I neveronly very rarely have a good word to say for LibDem MPs. However, when I do come across one talking sense, I feel I should make an effort to mark the occurrence.
So step forward Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, and take a bow.
He has written an article for ePolitix.com applauding the BMA for calling for a ban on NHS funding of homeopathy. He describes himself as “a strong proponent of evidence-based policies” (I won’t ask how he squares that with his support for some of the less-than-soundly based policies of the Coalition Government) and points out that:
“There is no scientific basis for why an extremely diluted solution completely devoid of any active ingredient should be an effective treatment.”
As he says (twice in consecutive paragraphs):
“Homeopathy has been shown to be ineffective beyond placebo.”
He goes on to argue:
“The use of homeopathy by NHS doctors also raises ethical questions. Because the placebo effect ultimately depends on deception, it removes patient choice and undermines the trust inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.
It is unethical to prescribe patients homeopathic remedies while giving them the mistaken impression that they are valid medical treatments.
In these tough economic times where we must look for savings, spending on homeopathy cannot be justified. Disgracefully, our government has no idea how much it spends on homeopathy, but estimates reported by the Guardian place NHS spending on homeopathy at £12 million from 2005 to 2008.
These are millions of pounds that could be spent on treatments that have been proven to be effective at treating patients.”
It was a scandal that the last Government allowed this to continue. I will watch with interest to see what impact Julian Huppert will have on his Coalition colleagues.