An erroneous decision has been taken to stop the publicly-funded (NHS-funded) homeopathic treatment in Bristol, England. Before the decision was taken, the NHS-funded homeopathic treatment was only available in one city in England – Bristol. With the end of the NHS-funded homeopathy in Bristol, comes the end of the publicly-funded homeopathy in England.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the governing board of the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on 7th August 2018. Current patients would be able to finish their ongoing homeopathic treatment, but the new patients will only be able to access the treatment through the National Health Service (NHS) in exceptional circumstances. The CCG’s individual funding request panel will use a clinician to decide why a particular patient is exceptional clinically and requires the homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy has a long history in Bristol as it has been available there since 1852.
Before this decision was made, people from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, who met an agreed set of criteria could be referred by their GPs to the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine (PCIM) in Clifton, Bristol for getting NHS-funded homeopathic treatment. Now, after stopping of the publicly-funded homeopathic treatment in Bristol, the Glasgow Centre of Integrative Care is the only remaining NHS-funded homeopathy service in Britain.
In 2017/18, the NHS spent £109,476 on homeopathy consultations for 41 people from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire i.e., about £2,670 per person per year.
In response to the CCG’s recent decision to end publicly-funded homeopathy in Bristol, the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine (PCIM) released a formal statement – “PCIM is extremely sorry to hear that funding for the NHS homeopathy service is finally ending. Over the 70 years of playing a part within the NHS, medical homeopathy has helped thousands of people across Bristol and the region.
“PCIM has about 1500 registered patients who access NHS medical homeopathy. As ever, this change in service provision most impacts those who might not know about or who can’t afford to pay for holistic approaches.
“The NHS homeopathy service has been one of the very few holistic services within the NHS and one that supports a much-needed model of wellness.”
PCIM stated that clinical evidence for homeopathy being a true medical science does exist, but it has been consistently ignored. PCIM said that it will continue to deliver medical homeopathy within a broad vision of conventional, holistic and lifestyle approaches to improve health and wellbeing, and is looking at ways to provide greater access to homeopathy as the NHS homeopathy service has been withdrawn.
With support from the British Homeopathic Association, PCIM, is already running low cost clinics in Bath and Street, and is creating a new ‘access fund’ for patients in Bristol.
British Homeopathic Association has criticised CCG’s decision to stop publicly-funded homeopathy and stated – “By removing homeopathic referrals to the Portland Centre for Integrated Medicine (PCIM), Bristol CCG demonstrates a lack of sound decision making because this change will not help improve patient health or balance their books.
“It will have a negative impact on the lives of those in the care of Bristol CCG as most of the referral patients have chronic conditions which have not been helped through the conventional treatment and now have to go back to treatments that do not work as well for them and cost more.
“The highly-rated, doctor led service at PCIM will continue to be available to paying patients but sadly will now be unavailable to those without funds and often in most need who were being helped through the referral service.”