£100,000 to be saved by cutting homeopathy budget

August 23 2018

Almost £109,000 is to be saved in the region after a decision to end routine funding for homeopathy treatments.

The Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG) estimated that 41 patients in the area received treatment in 2017/18, costing the NHS £109,476.  The cash could pay for 22 hip replacements or 170 cataract operations.  £37m of savings are needed in the next financial year. 

Homeopathy will still be available for patients who are ‘clinically exceptional’, but a clinician would have to explain why this is the case to a funding panel. 

The group was the last NHS trust in England routinely funding homeopathy.  Clinical Chair Dr Jonathan Hayes said; “We are working hard to become an evidence-informed organisation because we need to make the best use of all resources to offer treatment and care to the widest range of people. The decision on homeopathy funding today is a step towards this and brings us in line with national guidelines.”

The decision follows the publication of a report which considered a wide range of views.  Dr Peter Brindle, The Medical Director for Clinical Effectiveness said: “In putting the report together, staff and clinicians from across the CCG have closely examined the full range of clinical evidence available from both sides of the debate, consulted with local people, clinicians, patient groups and providers of homeopathic treatments and looked at national guidance.”

Prior to that there was a public consultation last summer. Out of over 2,000 people who responded, half were from outside the Clinical Commissioning Group’s area, but over 75% of local people agreed that the homeopathy services should be decommissioned. 

The CCG’s governing body decided to defer the decision to 2018 to allow further evidence to be considered and more engagement with patients. In early 2018, three options were used as the basis of a second consultation. These were; to continue to provide NHS funded homeopathy under the current ‘prior approval’ policy, to provide homeopathy in a more targeted manner or to make it available only in exceptional circumstances.

The feedback showed there were similar levels of support for the continuation of the current policy and the option to make it available only in exceptional circumstances.

It’s not only homeopathy treatment that has been reviewed by the NHS, other services include over the counter medicines, breast reconstruction after cancer, cosmetic surgery, liver disease and sleep apnoea.