NHS homoeopathy funding probe pledge to MPs

November 13, 2008

The Government's chief scientific adviser has said he sees "no scientific evidence" that homoeopathy works, and has agreed to look into its funding as a treatment on the National Health Service.

John Beddington, who also heads the Government Office for Science (GO-Science), made the commitment to MPs during a hearing of the Commons Universities Select Committee last week.

The MPs said that continued NHS funding of homoeopathy called into doubt the Government's commitment to "evidence-based" policy, as it had not been raised as a concern during a recent review of the Department of Heath (DoH) by Professor Beddington's office.

Professor Beddington said he had not personally looked at the issue, but added: "I see no scientific evidence that (homoeopathy) works."

He agreed to look at the policy and come back to the committee.

Committee chairman Phil Willis said it was an "important issue" that went right to the heart of how government used science to inform its policymaking.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Evan Harris told Times Higher Education that he was "disappointed" that the issue had not been raised in the health review. "It suggests that either (John Beddington) is not that interested in evidence-based healthcare - which I think he should be - or GO-Science is not that keen to criticise government departments publicly."

The report from GO-Science concluded that the DoH "demonstrates good practice" in the way it commissions, manages and uses science and that other government departments could usefully copy it.

• Acupuncture has received a boost to its scientific credibility from the BMJ Group. The publishers of BMJ announced this week that it would publish a medical journal on acupuncture from next year. Acupuncture in Medicine will be the group's first complementary medicine title, formerly published by the British Medical Acupuncture Society.

zoe.corbyn@tsleducation.com.

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