A small but vociferous group of doctors and scientists seems determined to remove homeopathy from the National Health Service.
The group has written to all the primary health care trusts (PCTs), which govern medical provisions in their area, urging them to stop supplying access to homeopathy, which it describes as 'crack-pot medicine'.
A similar letter was sent last year by another group, which included a Nobel prize winner and six fellows of the Royal Society.
This war of attrition seems to be working. Several PCTs were convinced by the arguments in the first letter and have stopped offering homeopathy, while the London Homeopathic Hospital says it may have to close because of a downturn in the numbers of NHS patients it's seeing.
It can hardly be an issue of cost. One PCT spent a mere lb60,000 on homeopathy a year before dropping it as an option, while two in London - Hammersmith and Fulham PCTs - between them spent lb300,000 on homeopathy last year. These two have also been convinced by the letters, and are planning to remove homeopathy as an option.
Aside from the dubious science the letters' signatories use, these bully-boy tactics go against the founding spirit of the NHS. In the original blueprint for a free health service, it states that homeopathy should be made available while there are people who want it, and there are doctors who can practise it. Both of these remain the case.
Bullies and myopics, who refuse to consider that any medicine other than theirs could work, are removing consumer choice - and nobody is saying a word because, of course, they are doctors and scientists.
(Source: The Guardian, 23 May 2007).
E-news broadcast 24 May 2007 No.362