Friday, November 14, 2008

Department of Health respond to Homeopathy Petition

Well, I say respond, but they don't really say anything.

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".

[/fail]

BPSDB

5 comments:

  1. Oh, I read it as saying homeopathy is great and patients like it, so we want more:

    "PCTs will be expected to support practices that are innovative and entrepreneurial, and which extend patient choice"

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  2. "A reasonable person should be able to guess the question, having got the answer".
    Haha, chance would be a fine thing. I got a similar response from the DoH (D'oh!) when I wrote to my MP last year. Nice post Dr* T.

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  3. Ha! Patient choice indeed. Ask for bloodletting or trepanning and see how far that gets you. Patient choice MUST only extend to treatments that the NHS/NICE have already certified as safe, effective, and cost effective.

    Still, hold the front page "government responds to a question without really saying anything"

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  4. I was thinking I should ask for a bottle of 15 year old Highland Park whiskey for pain relief.

    It's certainly effective, reasonably safe (some long term issues, perhaps) and costs about 3 prescriptions.

    I want patient choice NOW :)

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  5. Dr*T, to help along your, ahem, business case for Highland Park pain relief therapy, you could point out that, at about £25 for 750ml of the 12-year-old, it's, ml for ml, a lot better value than Bach Flower Remedies (£3.45-£5.00 for 10ml of diluted brandy). I don't see how they can refuse you...

    ReplyDelete

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