UPDATE: What the Liberal Democrat position on homeopathy IS

Since I previously wrote about what it was, and then wasn’t, I feel it is encumbant on me to include here what the official line on homeopathy now is:

A recent report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee examined the provision of homeopathy through the NHS and called for funding by the NHS to be stopped. The Committee did recognise that many users derive benefit from its use and did not argue that such treatments should be banned.

The Liberal Democrats believe that, as a basic principle, individuals should have maximum freedom about how they choose to get treated, so long as the therapy is safe. When it comes to NHS provision, we support a review by NICE into the cost effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative (CAMs) therapies, including homeopathy; as well as expanding the work of NICE to look at the cost-effectiveness of existing conventional treatments.

We know that many complementary therapies are popular with the public. The NHS budget is limited and we want to make sure that NHS funding is focused on treatments which are efficacious and cost-effective. NICE reviews of all existing treatments would give us the best possible basis for future decisions over funding.

That sounds much more sensible and measured. On top of that, I am now getting (unconfirmed) reports that the Scinos will not be at Lib Dem conference after all. Looks like the party may have had an outbreak of common sense.

Or maybe not.


  1. Hmm, well that’s better at least, but it’s still not perfect. IIRC, the report called for no further money to be wasted on homeopathy by the NHS. So I see no reason to call for NICE to re-evaluate it (though I have no quibble with it looking at the other CAM therapies).

  2. Oh, and that piece in the Guardian… sheesh.

    Not a single tax rise to deal with the structural deficit? I’m not sure that’s sensible. Especially after “savage cuts”.

  3. Yes, but the Select Committee report firmly states: β€œβ€¦To maintain patient trust, the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments, including homeopathy. Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA should stop licensing homeopathic products.”

    Never mind about a possible NICE investigation, do the LibDems agree with the above or not?

  4. 100% cuts? Maybe not so sensible. However, he’s right about Thatcher. Her taking on the Unions was highly significant for Britain. It’s arguable that the status quo is now too far imbalanced in the opposite direction, but there’s nothing particularly wrong with Clegg’s pointing out the importance of a crucial piece of politial history.

  5. If this is the official party line it is truly pathetic. I thought Lib Dems (for whom I voted last time) were in favour of evidence based policy. The seemed to be so in the case of the David Nutt affair.

    Perhaps you should look at my post,
    A handy list of dimwitted members of parliament.

    It is a disgrace that a higher proportion of Lib Dem MPs have signed EDM 908 than any other party apart from Democratic Unionists. Fine allies, there.

    Homeopathy is very simple. There is nothing in the pills, They are a fraud and a delusion. Furthermore, nobody is proposing to ban it. All we say is that deception should not be endorsed by the NHS or the MHRA.

    If this is Lib Dem policy, it is firmly rooted in the early part of the 19th century. It is an insult not only to science, but to any thinking person. And it is particularly tragic given that the very sensible report was the work, among others, of Phil Willis and Evan Harris.

  6. I absolutely agree it’s an individuals decision on how they are treated. There are actually some homeopathic methods that seem to be more effective and have less side effects than traditional treatments. The cost is typically less as well so I don’t see why it couldn’t be covered by insurance.

  7. @bobman
    You say

    “There are actually some homeopathic methods that seem to be more effective and have less side effects than traditional treatments. ”

    There isn’t the slightest reason to think that this is true. Indeed the latest paper on the topic shows that homeopathy doesn’t even produce any worthwhile placebo effect -see http://www.dcscience.net/?p=4615.

    It is really important that Lib Dems don’t fall into the same trap as the Green Party by embracing barmy new-age thinking (like advocating homeopathy).

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