“Homeopathic Hospitals”

[BPSDB]
More of Louise Mcleans homeopathic facts this time about homeopathic hospitals. It will surprise absolutely nobody to discover that she thinks they are wonderful and I disagree.

In Fact 23 she says there are 5 homeopathic hospitals in the UK and contrasts their total £10 million p.a. running costs to the £100 billion 2008 NHS budget. Firstly, if the money is wasted by providing ineffective treatments, then it is immaterial that it is only a tiny fraction of the total budget, much effective treatment could be provided for that money. Secondly, under the NHS internal market, when patients are referred to hospital, the hospital trust charges the Primary Care Trust for the treatment provided. Thirdly, this money does not include free prescriptions for homeopathic remedies issued by doctors. Hence the cost to the NHS of providing homeopathic treatment is much greater than £10 million.

In Fact 24 she claims that in 1948 the Government “pledged” that homeopathy would continue to be available on the NHS as long as there were “patients wishing to receive it and doctors willing to provide it”. The pledge of universal free prescription drugs has long since been dropped so clearly such promises are not binding. Furthermore, if she wants a return to 1948 style provision, that would mean no organ transplants, no preventative care such as smoking cessation and no geriatric care (few in 1948 lived long enough to need it).

In Fact 25 she tells us that there is a campaign by “certain U.K. Professors” to oust homeopathy completely from the NHS.” Good thing too. To be honest, I don’t know why she is complaining. No NHS homeopathy presumably translates into more mugs punters patients spending £50 per hour for private consultations.

In Fact 26 she tells us how nice the staff at homeopathic hospitals are and that patients are “generally pleased with their treatment unlike many orthodox National Health Service Hospitals”. She does not give a source for this so it is impossible to check to see whether patients of homeopathy are more satisfied than patients of evidence based medicine or not. In any case, satisfaction surveys are not proof of efficacy.

In Fact 27 she says that incidents of MRSA or C. Difficile in homeopathic hospitals are very low. Contrary to what the dead-tree media may have told you, they are pretty low in other hospitals too. Most of the stories about “mops of death” and such like were based on tests done by the unqualified and incompetent Chris Malyszewicz in his garden shed. She does not give any figures or the source of her information.

In Fact 28 she claims that two thirds of all conventional hospital admissions are due to the side-effects of pharmaceutical medicines and that the bill for negligence claims is in the billions and contrasts this with one un-named U.K. insurance company reporting only ‘a couple’ of claims against homeopaths in a ten year period. This is probably due to the fact that homeopaths in general confine themselves to treating self-limiting ailments so the patients would recover even if they received no treatment at all, and since – as noted previously – homeopathic medicines have no effect of any kind on the body, there will be no adverse reactions. More seriously, her claim that two thirds of all hospital admissions are due to drug side effects is completely wrong. According to this there were 13,706,765 hospital admissions in the UK in 2005 of which 76,642 (0.56%) were due to adverse drug reactions. Even this rather alarmist story from the BBC (which as usual does not link to the study) puts the figure at 6.5%. One can only speculate as to the origins of Mcleans two-thirds figure but considering the wooish predeliction for using Britain’s oppressive libel laws to stifle criticism, I shall refrain. The NHS Litigation Authority estimates its total exposure as being something like £9 billion so this is probably where Mcleans “billions” claim comes from. However, as the NHSLA say, this is a theoretical maximum exposure. The actual costs of meeting clinical negligence claims in 2006-7 was £579.3 million, which is a huge amount – but not “billions”.

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13 Responses to ““Homeopathic Hospitals””

  1. BobP Says:

    Re: c diff & mrsa – i get the impression these prefer long stay environments like ITU and geriatric. I’m guessing that homeo hospitals are predominantly outpatient? Not a fair comparison.

  2. David Colquhoun Says:

    Ahem, she seems to have forgotten that Tunbridge Wells homeopathic Hospital has shut. The medical director of the West Kent PCT decided that there were better ways to spend the money

    She also seems to have forgotten that commssioning of homeopathy has been greatly reduced at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and that large parts of their building are now occupied by the National Hospital and by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children,

  3. Warhelmet Says:

    BobP – you are right. Mrs Warhelmet thinks that homeopathic hospitals don’t do emergency medicine. And Mrs Warhelmet’s hospital has very low rates of c. difficile and MRSA.

  4. draust Says:

    Good point, Bob. I find it difficult to imagine the homeo hospitals having many inpatients.

    The other point in a similar vein is that the inpatients in a conventional hospital are likely to be – wait for it – ill and/or frail. The outpatients at a homeopathic hospital will likely have predominantly self-limiting chronic ailments – I would suggest back pain, arthritis, allergies etc. And as you also allude to, I rather doubt that many of the RHH’s customers are the 75+ yr old multiple morbidity population you find in conventional hospitals.

    Back to JQH’s article, stating the obvious, the other thing missing from the standard homeo-nitwit analysis of conventional medicine is that, while conventional pharmaceuticals carry risks, they also carry benefits which outweigh the risks. That is why they are given by the doctors in the first place.

    For instance, low-dose aspirin for ischaemic heart disease is a medicine with some finite risks related to gastrointestinal bleeding. However, for the patients taking low-dose aspirin, the risk of having, and quite possibly dying from, a heart attack or stroke (a risk which low-dose aspirin reduces significantly) is greater than the risk of a serious bleed from taking the aspirin.

    In fact, before patients are given low-dose aspirin they will be being “risk assessed” against a guideline which in effect asks the three part question:

    1. At what predicted risk of heart attacks (and similar) does the benefit of taking low-dose aspirin outweigh the risk of bleeding?

    2. What is this individual patient’s predicted risk of heart attacks or similar?

    And therefore:

    3. Will this individual patient get overall benefit from taking aspirin?

    Thus if you are close to (or below) the “critical” risk level (i.e. in the risk band where it is marginal whether aspirin means more benefit than harm) you won’t get given aspirin. if you are in the higher risk group (for clotting events), where aspirin definitely is more likely to be beneficial than harmful, you will get aspirin.

    “Doh!” as Homer Simpson would say.

    Unfortunately this kind of argument, being based on actual science and numbers, is a bit too rational for many Alt.Reality enthusiasts, and certainly for the homeopathic faithful. They prefer to believe in the Tooth Fairy, cross their fingers, and trust the Magic Water.

  5. Dr*T Says:

    Louise McLean did an interview with homepath Andrew Ward in 2007 which has some interesting bits in it,

    http://www.zeusinfoservice.com/ArticlesbyLouise/ArticlesbyLouise4.html

    e.g.

    L. I do find some of these top homeopaths…They start getting a bit too weird and wonderful and getting away from reality.

    A. Yes, and it says in the Organon in the beginning in the first Aphorism – what is our task? It’s to help the patient. Nothing about our greatness or our ego or our interesting theory, or I’ve got this new…it’s helping the patient. That’s it. And I think people have lost track of this or something. I think it’s the teachers who are responsible for what happened in the last 20 years.

    L. A lot of ego with the teachers.

    A. It’s very disappointing to George who taught them all. What they did is they just went to him and then they just abandoned what they had learnt. Over the next few years they became very well known because they were getting results intially. However they never understood the whole theory properly because it had only been taught in its infancy at that time. They became well known and they established their colleges, then they just abandoned it. I believe this is because with only 30% of the information they could go no further and so they started to look further afield for inspiration. Now we have the full information and they think they know it all – its ironic! They all need to come to the course for re-education.

    L. Created their own kinds of versions and their own teachings.

    A. They’re responsible for it. Creating some kind of pseudo-science now. Pseudo-science is what it is.

    L. Because as you say, homeopathy is a very clear science and there is no reason why we can’t present it as such.

    A. We have to. They are going to challenge us. They already are. It’s started. With the degree courses which are Bachelor of Science, they say it is not a science and we should get rid of them (homeopathic practitioners). Well it is a science.

    L. Much more of a science than allopathic medicine.

    —————————–

    There is also an interesting discussion with Andrew Ward going on here:
    http://www.ideasfestival.co.uk/?p=251

    He is …umm….. quite aggressive!

  6. Warhelmet Says:

    Am I right in thinking that at one point, homeopaths were completely opposed to the homeopathic hospitals becoming part of the NHS? Or is that me misremembering something I read in historical accounts of homeopathy?

  7. A Second Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    [...] two three four <a href="http://jaycueaitch.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/scientific-studies/&quot;.five [...]

  8. Lisa Says:

    I just came across this blog and I find it interesting that some people see fit to patronise others, especially as medical knowledge on homeopathy and basic biology seems to be few and far between in here. I have found homeopathy to help efficiently and effectively where allopathy “has no drug against this”. Taking it away would mean that an increasing part of the population will have no chance of ever getting well. In the last few days I have read in a professional homeopathy journal how homeopathy improves the lives of handicapped persons and helps them push their boundaries and live to the fullest of their abilities. Hahnemann’s miasm-theory is used to find the correct remedies for them.
    At least, modern genetics seems to explain why allopathy is so ineffective in many instances, its dangerous side-effects notwithstanding.

    • jaycueaitch Says:

      Quite frankly it is the homeopaths who are lacking in knowledge of basic biology – and basic chemistry – and basic physics.

      WRT the claim that homeopathy improves the lives of people with disabilities, would you care to give us a link so people can read it for themselves?

  9. Derrick Smithers Says:

    “,…homeopathic medicines have no effect of any kind on the body…”

    Would you concede that you may have exaggerated that statement?

    I’m just imagining the effect on my toddler’s body after consuming a 6 oz. glass of orange juice combined with the contents of 75 capsules of bee pollen. Might that produce at least “some” effect?

    • jaycueaitch Says:

      I concede no such thing. Those are not homeopathic medicines.

      Are you aware that homeopathic medicines are repeatedly diluted until no trace of of the original remedy remains?

      • Derrick Smithers Says:

        Admittedly, I’m far from an expert in Homeopathy. If true, I would agree that misrepresenting the claims of efficacy of any medicine (by dilution or otherwise) is simply wrong and I don’t support that.

        Your use of the the word “remedy”, whether it is diluted or not implies that some Homeopathic treatments work. My question then is, if not diluted would some of these treatments amount to a “remedy?”

        This is not a challenge, as I’m just learning more about your position. So, any answer is the correct answer and I won’t be back to engage in a nasty back and forth or anything!

      • jaycueaitch Says:

        I use the term “remedy” as in “substance used in a treatment”. This does not mean the treatment actually works!

        You will probably notice that homeopaths use weasle worded phrases like “is used to treat” in the advertising material in an attempt to imply that their hyper-diluted nostrums have an effect. This is to avoid making outright claims that they work, which would get them done for making false claims.

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