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”.