Despite homeopathic treatment prescribed by the NHS being at the request of patients, the practice has received criticism due to the total amount spent on the alternative therapy totaling £12 million across the UK over the last three years. The treatment is based on the theory that like treats like, and patients are prescribed minute doses of plant extracts diluted down that aim to treat the underlying cause of illness, rather than simply relieving the symptoms.
Criticism has come from a number of people including Professor of Complementary Medicine, Edzard Ernst, who has said that homeopathic remedies are little more than sugar pills, and their effects are placebo. There have been calls for doctors to stop prescribing homeopathic treatment for patients as a result of this, although not everybody is of the opinion that homeopathy is a waste of time.
The University of Westminster’s director of integrated medicine, David Peters, pointed out that alternative therapies are being prescribed because this is what patients are requesting when visiting their GPs. He said,
“The overarching question is what is the NHS prepared to pay for? The people who go to the homeopathic hospital go there because they want to and they like it. They say it makes them better, it makes them feel better. If they didn’t go to the homeopathic hospital, they would go elsewhere. And they cost money to look after. So how do you square that circle?”
The therapy also has the backing of former tennis star Annabel Croft who has relied on homeopathic remedies to cure her family of anything from upset stomachs to colds and cuts and bruises. Annabel’s belief in homeopathy began when she saw a homeopath for an ovarian cyst that had been causing immense pain, almost causing her to pass out at times. Taking pillules containing the remedy several times a day to treat her illness saw Annabel’s pain relieved, something she puts down to the treatment. Annabel told the Telegraph,
“I’m passionate about homeopathy. I sing its praises at dinner parties where I find my audience is one half sceptical and one half increasingly curious.”