The remedies, which cost the NHS around £4m a year, have escaped the latest round of cost-cutting which has removed heartburn pills, paracetamol, sun cream, omega-3 fish oils, travel vaccines and gluten-free foods from the list that can be prescribed to patients.
The decision has angered many in conventional medicine, including the UK's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, who has described homeopathy as "rubbish" and a waste of taxpayers' money. She has been joined in her condemnation by a range of groups, even including the House of Commons science and technology committee, which concluded that NHS funding of the therapy should be stopped.
Critics have said that homeopathy is unscientific and unproven, but supporters say that good evidence exists for its effectiveness against a range of conditions such as depression. The Swiss health authority has announced that homeopathy is effective enough to be included among therapies that can be claimed under health insurance plans. It will be available, along with four other alternative treatments, from May this year.