Spring/Summer 2018 issue
Cristal Sumner, BHA Chief Executive
Cristal Sumner, BHA Chief Executive

Last issue I wrote about the BHA pursuing a judicial review of NHS England’s consultation in relation to homeopathy. Since then, we’ve spent four days in the high court putting forward our case against NHS England and we have a judgement at last.

Although our grounds were found arguable and worthy of holding a judicial review, in the end the judgement handed down from the Right Honourable Justice Supperstone did not side with the BHA. It is extremely disappointing that not one of our four grounds found favour with the judge. Having attended the entire hearing, I can tell you it wasn’t an easy defence for NHS England.

The BHA undertook this action to protect access to homeopathy in the NHS and represent the patients that depend on homeopathic medicines throughout the NHS. Protecting and developing greater access to homeopathy is our prime objective. A significant amount of our funding comes from legacies from people who benefitted from homeopathy and would have wanted it to thrive and remain on the NHS. We would be doing a disservice to them, our current supporters and future patients by not challenging what we considered to be an unlawful consultation to halt prescriptions of homeopathy within the NHS. It seems that sentiment is held by many people and as a result we have been extremely fortunate to have raised £109,000 in donations to help cover our legal fees.

I want to thank all of you that signed the parliamentary petition, took part in the consultation, supported our crowdfunding or made a donation to help pay for our legal fees, and took an active part in spreading the word. As a community we galvanised together to make the strongest case possible and stood up collectively for our rights. That’s positive action!

The case was heard in the high court on 14 May. I was fortunate to have friendly faces in support of the BHA every day in the courtroom. I was joined by David Tredinnick MP, a long-term supporter of homeopathy, and was touched he spared the time to join us two days in row. I’d also like to thank Karin Mont from the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, Mani Norland from the School of Homeopathy, Dr Gary Smyth from the Faculty of Homeopathy, Dr Charlotte Mendes da Costa, a BHA trustee, Rachel Roberts and Chris Connolly from Homeopathy Research Institute, and staff members John Burry and Sacha El Masry for being there in court. Special thanks to Enid Segall and Sato Liu from the Friends of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) who sat next to me as representatives of the only active interested party.

Richard Clayton QC represented us and put forward our grounds admirably. There were over 5,000 pages of paperwork with witness statements from patients, GPs, representatives from the BHA and Friends of the RLHIM; there were submissions around the evidence base for effectiveness, a full breakdown of the 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report and why it should not have been used in a consultation document; evidence around the use of homeopathy from around the globe, as well as on the predetermination of NHS England around removing homeopathy, and critical issues about the Equalities Impact Assessment as it applied to homeopathy patients.

Again, all that could not be done alone. I am so thankful to those doctors who provided witness statements and the patients willing to go on record about how cuts to homeopathic medicines would personally affect them. Also, my colleagues abroad for providing information about how their governments endorse and pay for homeopathic prescriptions; Dr Peter Fisher who provided expert scientific evidence and to our legal team at Bates Wells Braithwaite.

It’s been an intense period of work but very rewarding to see everyone respond positively, give their time, expertise and energy freely. Despite this disappointment, the BHA remains committed to defending homeopathic services. We will continue to champion homeopathy’s health benefits, cost effectiveness and the right of patients to choose the therapy when it is appropriate for their condition.

Our charitable aims remain unchanged: to enable greater access to homeopathy through providing financial support for research, training of healthcare professionals, providing factual and useful information about homeopathy to the public, and expanding the BHA’s network of charitable and low-cost clinics throughout the UK. Growing numbers of people are seeking a more holistic approach to their healthcare and the BHA is working to enable them to do so.