|At a meeting of the West Kent PCT board, on 27 September 2007, it was decided
to withdraw all funding for homeopathy from the end of this financial year. This means the end for the Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital..
Congratulations to Dr James Thallon (Medical Director of the West Kent PCT) who done a good job for patients in his area by ensuring that NHS money is well spent. He appeared briefly on Channel 4 News to explain that if the cost of the Hospital were saved, a lot of patients would be able to benefit from the latest treatments.
The announcement of intention to withdraw NHS funding was followed by a public consultation. But the supporters of homeopathy could muster only 6273 votes and they were spread over four petitions (we shall never know how many people signed all four). A web site for the supporters of the homeopathic hospital has a movie of their town centre demonstration. The numbers there were less than overwhelming, though they were led by a rather fine piper.
The local MP, Greg Clark (Cons, Tunbridge Wells) made a short speech, but sounded, it must be said, less than convinced. He is an MP better known for his support for nuclear missiles.
At 08.30, the morning talk show on BBC Radio Kent that preceded the meeting had a discussion about the homeopathic hospital. If you can stand talk shows, listen here (a London homeopath, DC and Sally Penrose from British Homeopathic Association). The first speaker says “someone even called it crackpot medicine”. Ahem. Could that have been me?
Who owns the Homeopathic Hospital?
You might expect to be able to find out from NHS Choices, but that site is unhelpful (how does the Department of Health manage it?). Here is the information that I have.
The Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital building is owned by the Mental Health Trust. The building houses three services. (1) The homeopaths, who are owned by Maidstone Tunbridge Wells (MTW) Acute Trust, (2) a child and adolescent mental health service CAMHS, which is owned by the Mental Health Trust, and (3) Community Paediatrics which owned by W Kent PCT. It will be for MTW as provider to decide if they want to close the department in the light of the commissioning decision but if they did then the building itself would continue to house medical services though not the Department of Homeopathy.
Follow up in the press
BBC News 24 had a short report.
The Times said ” Patients will no longer be able to receive homoeopathy treatments at a specialist hospital because they are a waste of money and do not work, an NHS trust said. ”
The final outcome
According to a report in the local newspaper, a year later it is, at last happening. Peter Fisher of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital said
“Of course homeopathy needs more research, but so do many areas of conventional medicine – without these NHS hospitals, this research won’t get done.”
The first part might be true, but the second is fantasy. The hospital did not produce a shred of good research. The report goes on.
“The PCT originally decided to withdraw funding for homeopathy – which costs the trust £200,000-a-year for 750 patients – last September, but the decision was challenged by patients through a judicial review which proved unsuccessful and led to the final decision being made last week.
Current patients will finish their treatment over the next eight months but the PCT will not pay for further routine homeopathic consultations or treatments after the end of March next year.”