lördag, mars 10, 2007

Kamp för alternativ sjukvård i England

Ett sjukhus i England som framgångsrikt behandlat många patienter med homeopati i 150 år är nu hotat. Starka krafter verkar för att man där bara ska få ägna sig åt traditionell sjukvård. Vad patienterna tycker är tydligen inte intressant när politikerna fattar beslut.

Jag publicerar informationen, som skickats via ANH (Alliance for Natural Health), på engelska:

Thanks for your attention - I hope that you will read to the end of this email, for there is a travesty in progress.

The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (RLHH) - the visible presence of homeopathy within the National Heath Service (NHS) - an institute putting homeopathy in the public mind for the last 150 years - the place where homeopathy was seen to perform so well in the cholera epidemic of 1840's - is being dealt a DEATH BLOW.

The moves are subtle and insidious, but nonetheless relentless and they won't stop until the hospital is closed. In these insane times, I have to protect my source but I have it on absolute authority that without a highly visible, vocal and active campaign, the hospital will be closed within the year, with other homeopathic institutions to follow.

The recent (smear) media campaign led by Prof. Ernst, Exeter University, Chair of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and cost cutting in an NHS strapped for cash, are cited as the main reasons. Yet the RLHH is one of the very few areas of
the NHS that actually makes money over it's budget!

Without a doubt politics are at work.

A little history of the Stealth involved . . .The In Patient beds at the RLHH were the first to go. Patients then received day care at the hospital and were put up in a local hotel as a means of saving money. Now this has been stopped and treatment restricted to Outpatients only.

In typical media outrage - led again by Prof Ernst - it was claimed that the 43 million pound revamp of the RLHH building was NHS money that should never have been used for a therapy that doesn't work. (As per Prof Ernst's Lancet article in 2005.)

The fact of the matter is that the money for the revamp was donated by benefactors to be used for the homeophatic hospital alone. It was not money that could have been allocated elsewhere in the NHS. But of course (and call me cynical) if you allow the hospital to be revamped and then push out the homeopaths, you can use a state of the art building for all kinds of other NHS departments.

The Camden PCT (Primary Care Trust - the local control unit of the NHS) dictated that the homeopathic allergy clinic must now be held over at the main University College Hospital site. It's perfect - now the brand new rooms are not being used by the homeopaths and in order to be economically effective must be used by some other department - like the neighbouring neurology department's private practice! (I kid you not - what was initially a once a month event is now several times a week - the neurologists have already got their feet under the consulting desk....)

A number of PCTs have already cut funding and others intend to, so that their patients will not be able to obtain homeopathy on the NHS. Hammersmith and Fulham are not allowing new referrals to the RLHH, six PCTs including Islington have already, or plan to, cut their contracts from April this year, other PCTs plan to follow suit and direct GP's NOT to refer patients to the RLHH. Then Camden PCT can accuse the RLHH of a reducing patient base. Perfect. If this wasn't a literal account of events, it might be amusing in it's bizarre simplicity. And all this at a time when the Government is committed to patient choice in a patient led NHS.

The PCTs even want to change the RLHH's name, and remove the word Homeopathic from the title, despite the building being a local landmark for more than 150 years!

The "Powers that be' at the RLHH have mounted (imho) a token gesture of a campaign - a letter is given to each patient and they are asked to write to their MP. Best case scenario is political naivety. There has been no attempt to utilize the internet, no attempt to contact the royal family, which in itself is mystifying since the Queen is the RLHH's Royal Patron. No attempt to contact the wider homeopathic community. I have heard a serious 'rumour' that staff have been told to keep a low profile.

No matter what your party politics, it seems to me that this is in line with the modus operanda of the day - quiet insidious shenanigans until - oops it's a faite accomplish and too late to do anything. Whatever you might think about the quality of homeopathy being practiced at the RLHH, they are doing important work especially in the areas of allergies, autism and ADD even given their limitation of a 20 minute consultation. They are devoted homeopaths doing their best in a less than ideal situation.

They provide a credible face of homeopathy for the general public and with 40,000 patient appointments every year make homeopathy available on the NHS for a significant number of patients who could not afford to have it otherwise.

In 2005 "67% of individual GPS and 85% of practices in the host PCT (Camden) referred patients; an increase of 29%...." (Interesting timing of this move to close the hospital ...)

The RLHH provides a: "....holistic, patient centred, low risk, low cost, low tech approach...It offers effective and cost-effective treatments; averts multiple referrals and investigations, and treatments with which many patients fail to comply or find ineffective."

We live in a time when many are afraid to speak their truth for fear of ridicule from colleagues, friends and family; fear of loss of position or status or research funding; fear in many form and guises... we live in a time when imho building bridges is more important than standing on ceremony. I know first hand that the RLHH people have respect for professional homeopaths, the work we do, the standard of our education.

I presented at a homeopathic educators conference in 2004 in Malvern - 110 homeopaths there - some of you were also there - professional homeopaths, medical homeopaths, homeopathic vets, homeopathic pharmacists - the first time we were all sharing ideas and learning from each other on a level playing field - it was amazing. If we are to keep homeopathy on the table of health care options, we have to work together. If you share my view, please take action now, this concerted effort to remove homeopathy from the NHS is already in progress. It might be that Prof Ernst will put in motion another campaign to remove the remaining homeopathic community still practicing this 'ineffective' form of medicine.

We all know the issues, it's not about saving the NHS money, it's about politics and multi-national drug companies and the commercialization of medicine etc. etc. ...and it's my contention that those of us working in the same arena need to support each other. United we stand, divided we....well you know the rest!

...Get out your best fountain pen and drop a line to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and ask her to intervene to preserve this 150 year old institution of which she is the Royal Patron.

Anything else you can think - please don't hesitate to send me emails with your ideas and I will pass them on. This is a personal campaign, not associated with anyone at the RLHH and driven purely by my inability to stand by and watch this institution die.

Thanks for your time. I hope you spread the word and make your feelings known.


Carol Boyce MCH, CCH, RSHom (NA)
Concerned Homeopath and Teacher

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