The original petition is here with the following wording:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Immediately ban NHS funding of homoeopathy and redirect the resources to proven medicine.to which the DoH replied:
Although the Department of Health provides strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England, it is for local NHS organisations to plan, develop and improve services for local people. These bodies are best placed to respond to patients’ concerns and needs, so it is their responsibility to commission healthcare services and treatments. The clinical and cost effectiveness, safety and availability of suitably qualified practitioners are all issues that have to be taken into account when deciding what treatment to provide.
The White Paper Our Health, our care, our say makes it clear that Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) will be holding GP practices accountable for the use of public money under practice-based commissioning, and that PCTs will be expected to support practices that are innovative and entrepreneurial, and which extend patient choice.
Now there are a few little tidbits to translate out of the bureaucratese and into english:
1. It is for Local NHS organisations to decide on clinical and cost effectiveness.
Fair enough. This phrase has to encompass non-efficacious quackery and efficacious-but-prohibitively-expensive treatments.
2. GPs are accountable to Primary Care Trusts for public money spending.
Again, no real drama.
3. "PCTs will be expected to support practices that are innovative and entrepreneurial, and which extend patient choice."
Hmmmm. I can't really get my head round this one. I would have liked to have seen a clause involving 'evidence-based' or 'science-based' in this statement. It's easy to increase patient choice and be entrepreneurial, but only if you are prepared to disregard the laws of biology and physics, lie to your patients and fleece them for placeboes.
Still, I'll take this in a positive manner, and hope that the statement is intended to promote new, evidence-based therapies and techniques which for whatever reason are not part of the historical GP surgery. Perhaps some increased dietician involvement to avoid future problems with obesity, diabetes etc.
What it doesn't say, however, is anything about homeopathy, which for a petition about homeopathy is rather strange. I would suggest that the government petition replies should adhere to following rule:
"A reasonable person should be able to guess the question, having got the answer".