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Doctors say patients being offered “alternative” homeopathy instead of tried and tested vaccinations are vulnerable to fatal diseases, according to the BBC.
An investigation by the broadcaster, being shown in a programme on Monday night, detailed how some people have been given homeopathic treatment in place of the MMR vaccine.
The investigation also uncovered the fact that the NHS spends more money on homeopathy per head of population in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK.
Members of the Homeopathic Medical Association are apparently giving patients replacement vaccines, such as MMR. The association has around 300 UK members including six in Scotland, where the BBC based its inquiries.
The British Medical Association’s Vivienne Nathanson told the programme: “Replacing proven vaccines, tested vaccines, vaccines that are used globally and we know are effective with homeopathic alternatives where there is no evidence of efficacy, no evidence of effectiveness, is extremely worrying because it could persuade families that their children are safe and protected when they’re not.
“And some of those children will go on to get the illness.”
Some children could go on “even to die”, she said, which would be a “tragedy” because families can believe they have done what they need to protect their children.
Dr Nathanson called for the NHS to stop funding Glasgow’s Homeopathic Hospital until it creates an “evidence base” which shows the type of patients they can help with their treatments.
GPs in Scotland apparently prescribe more than 10 times as many homeopathic medicines per person as doctors in England.
Freedom of information requests made by the programme-makers showed that the NHS spends around £1.5 million every year on homeopathy in Scotland, while the UK as a whole spends a total of £4 million.
Around half of Scotland’s health boards fund homeopathy.
Magic or Medicine – Homeopathy and the NHS will be broadcast by BBC One Scotland on Monday at 7.30pm.
Copyright Press Association 2010