NHS England faces legal challenge to its ‘fundamentally flawed’ consultation
NHS England’s consultation that resulted in the recommendation that homeopathy should not be routinely prescribed in primary care is being challenged in the courts. The British Homeopathic Association (BHA) is seeking a judicial review on the basis that the consultation was fundamentally flawed from the outset.
Cristal Sumner, BHA chief executive, said the charity is making the legal challenge on behalf of the many patients who receive homeopathy on the NHS and find it beneficial to their health.
Central to the BHA’s case is the argument that the proposal to withdraw homeopathy from routine prescribing was not formulated with input from any homeopathy experts or practitioners, and appeared to be based solely on the discredited conclusions of a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report from 2010. It is also the BHA’s position that, as a consequence, NHS England failed to provide adequate information for patients to give a considered and informed response.
The BHA also believes the consultation was not a genuine attempt to engage with patients, with NHS England appearing to have already taken the decision to deprive patients of homeopathic care even before the views of the public were sought.
The BHA considers that NHS England failed to properly take into account the effect on particular groups, such as children and older patients who will be directly affected by this decision. Many older patients have told the BHA they were unaware the consultation was taking place or were unable to respond because they don’t have access to the internet.
Furthermore, it is the BHA’s view that the consultation failed to take into proper consideration the evidence for homeopathy’s clinical use or the negative impact on patients and the NHS if it is removed from prescribing.
An online appeal to raise funds to help cover the BHA’s legal costs received more than £18,000 in donations. Meanwhile, the online parliamentary petition in support of NHS homeopathy has attracted over 26,000 signatures. The petition closes on 13 March 2018. Go to www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200154