Archive for category Pseudomedicine

Have your say on NHS Homeopathy funding in Liverpool

Back in June the Good Thinking Society challenged NHS Liverpool CCG over their decision to spend over £30,000 per year on homeopathic remedies. Given that homeopathy has proven to be nothing other than placebo, Good Thinking (where I work full time as Project Director) argued that spending any money at all on this treatment was unjustifiable and possibly unlawful.

In June, NHS Liverpool CCG withdrew their funding decision and promised to re-consult on the issue. It’s now the time for supporters of evidence-based medicine to have their say, and to explain to NHS Liverpool CCG why spending money on treatments that don’t work is unacceptable.

The process is simple, and can be done via an online form: http://www.liverpooltalkshealth.info/homeopathy

After registering, the survey takes just 5 minutes to complete. If you are not a resident of Liverpool, you can still offer your views – simply skip the questions that require a Liverpool perspective.

This is a rare and genuine opportunity for the skeptical community to have our say, and to make our opinions known. If we do not speak up now, then only homeopaths will contribute to the consultation and funding will likely continue.

Please take 5 minutes to ensure the reputation of the NHS is not used to lend credibility to a system of alternative medicine that can offer no benefits to patients. Take the survey now >>

If you’d like to understand more about the consultation, the accompanying FAQs offer some insights into the issues surrounding homeopathy in Liverpool.

Once you’ve taken the survey, be sure to share it with friends and colleagues – the more support NHS Liverpool CCG gets for ending homeopathy funding, the better chance we have of helping them make this decision happen.

2 Comments

Merseyside Skeptics Society welcomes NHS Liverpool CCG’s Decision To Re-Think Homeopathy Funding

3736069_1426544235.2609_funddescription-300x225As reported in the Liverpool Echo today, NHS Liverpool CCG recently decided to reverse their decision to continue funding homeopathy after a successful legal challenge by our friends at the Good Thinking Society. As a result of the challenge, Liverpool CCG has elected to re-consult on the matter – a decision we at the Merseyside Skeptics Society wholeheartedly support.

As a Merseyside-based critical thinking group with a large number of members who live within the jurisdiction of Liverpool CCG, we believe it is time that our local NHS services were no longer burdened with the need to provide ineffective sugar pills to the unwell – not least at a time when NHS budgets are under great pressure. Since our inception in 2009 we have campaigned to spread awareness about the pseudoscientific nature of homeopathy and the clear failure of any homeopath to find credible evidence that homeopathic remedies are of any benefit at all, and we sincerely believe it is unacceptable for taxpayer funds to be wasted on treatments that have been comprehensively shown to be ineffective.

Liverpool CCG’s decision is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to the upcoming consultation with hope that a fair and sensible decision will be made, reflecting the lack of evidence for homeopathy and the need to offer the people of Liverpool quality healthcare founded on good evidence-based practices.

MSS President Mike Hall said of the decision: “Homeopaths have claimed that skeptics reject homeopathy because we don’t understand how it works. While the proposed mechanism of homeopathy is indeed nonsensical, we do not reject it for this reason. We reject it because in 200 years it has never been shown to have a reliable effect on the course of any medical condition. With an ageing and expanding population, it is right and proper to insist that our NHS funds only those treatments with a proven benefit for patients.”

Donate with JustGivingWe urge our supporters – and indeed anyone who wants to see NHS allocate their limited resources to treatments that have any hope of helping patients – to support Good Thinking’s campaign against wasting taxpayer funds on these ineffective and disproven treatments. Good Thinking are currently crowdfunding in order to mount further legal challenges similar to this successful one in Liverpool, and supporters can donate to the campaign online.

Update:  Liverpool CCG has been in touch to ask us to make clear that homeopathy services are not being immediately withdrawn. Rather, they intent to return the decision to continue funding homeopathy to the consultation stage. Homeopathy will still be available during the consultation.

, , , ,

No Comments

Yes to life Chief Executive responds to criticism

In November 2014, myself and two other Merseyside Skeptics Society members attended a seminar hosted by the charity Yes to Life in Manchester. Yes to Life is an organisation that offers advice to people diagnosed with cancer with a focus on “integrative therapies” – that is, a combination of conventional therapies with alternative therapies including diet, detox and lifestyle modification. Despite the latter being supported by little to no evidence, the talks at the seminar suggested a scientific basis for a number of alternative therapies to an audience of cancer sufferers and their loved ones.

I wrote of my concern about this for the Guardian Science Blog, which elicited an email response from Sue De Cesare, Executive Director of Yes to Life. I reproduce the email in full below Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Happy Homeopathy Awareness Week!

In celebration of Homeopathy Awareness Week – and in recognition of the fact that genuine awareness is the biggest threat to belief in homeopathy – our friends* at the Good Thinking Society have released their own awareness-raising site, with 12 key points to be aware of when it comes to homeopathy.

Homeopathy Awareness Week takes place internationally from April 10th-16th and is aimed at raising awareness of homeopathic remedies. Each year, homeopaths from around the world use this week to promote their practice and gain publicity – yet public awareness of the realities of homeopathy remains low.

For example, many people mistakenly believe homeopathic products are a form of herbal product – not realising that homeopathic products typically contain no active ingredients at all. Over two centuries ago, the first homeopaths perversely decided that diluting an active medicinal ingredient makes it more potent, with the vast majority of remedies containing nothing at all! Modern homeopathic tablets are generally 100% sugar, containing no active ingredient whatsoever.

As part of World Homeopathy Awareness Week, we would like to raise awareness of twelve key points about homeopathy.

Head over to homeopathyawarenessweek.org to read the twelve points in full!

*full disclosure – Vice President of the MSS, Michael Marshall, is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society.

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Exploring TCM: Dr & Herbs, Liverpool

Having a rare weekend free, and having the need to pop into town in order to buy secret things for my girlfriend’s upcoming birthday (July 22nd if you want to wish her a happy birthday, by the way), I chanced into St John’s Shopping Centre and came across the rather charming ‘Dr & Herbs’ Traditional Chinese Medicine outlet. Which I immediately dived into and immersed myself in, obviously.

I’d like to say up front, before I get into any real detail – the two people who seem to run the shop were helpful, kind and friendly. Unfortunately, they were also entirely wrong in a number of ways…

The first thing that struck me about the shop was the crude (and rather awfully-designed) posters in the window, listing various ailments and how TCM can help – the list was reasonably long, and didn’t include any more wild and dangerous ailments to treat, but I was able to grab shots of the claims for Thrush, StressEczema and Asthma.

Thrush: TCM treats this as a problem of damp in the body, usually internal damp caused by an infection or fungus; herbs are a very effective treatment.

While it’s true to say that thrush is caused by a fungus, it’s vague and bewildering to claim it a problem of ‘damp in the body’, and the bald assertion that herbs are a very effective treatment is an outright falsehood, unsupported by evidence.

Stress: According to TCM, Stress is due to too much dampness and heart heat from internal and external pressure. We can treat this by clearing the dampness as well as regulating your Qi (vital energy) through a natural process).

Here the issue is somewhat more fundamental – the notion of ‘stress’ is something favoured by pseudomedical practitioners because of its dual properties of vagueness and ubiquity. Many people believe they have stress; very few of them could quantify what they mean by the term. Fortunately, Dr & Herbs seem to know, and they’re pretty sure it’s to do with dampness – although, in fairness, dampness is their go-to diagnosis. That they can regulate this invented dampness – both internally- and externally-caused –  via the regulation of Qi is neither here nor there, given that Qi adds one more invented element to the pot. All in all, their claims to fighting stress don’t stand up to scrutiny. Read the rest of this entry »

, , , ,

5 Comments

The Daily Express and The Wife-Taming Wonder-Spray!

As a result of a little digging around the papers last week, as-ever on the trawl for nonsense, I stumbled across the following in the Daily Express:

HERBAL REMEDY’S NAGGING RELIEF TO THE HENPECKED

BATTLING couples could have found the cure for their marital bust-ups – a herbal remedy which claims it can tame the nastiest of nags.

A miracle cure you say? To get rid of nagging? With a slight hint of a putting-your-woman-in-place angle? Thanks very much, Diana-mourning, Maddie-sleuthing Daily Express. The article was written by Nathan Rao, who I feel is worth calling out because frankly I suspect he contributed barely a word to it, as you may well come to suspect too I’m sure. The article continues:

The world’s first anti-nagging medicine hit the shelves yesterday.

Two sentences in, and we’re suddenly claiming not only a world’s first, but that this herbal product is classifiable as medicine, and all that that entails. In short, if the Express, Nathan Rao or whoever wrote this piece wants to call this herbal remedy a medicine, that’s fine – so long as it’s a licensed product, licensed by the MHRA. If it’s not, then labelling it a ‘medicine’ is… well, let’s call it naughty. And complaint-worthy. And potentially pretty serious. So, a nice start then! Let’s continue Read the rest of this entry »

, , , , , ,

7 Comments