Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Society of Homeopaths (HO 23a)
25 NOVEMBER 2009
I attended the above session this morning and
was concerned to hear Dr Evan Harris ask questions of two witnesses
that directly related to The Society of Homeopaths, without intervention
or challenge from the Chair or opportunity from The Society itself
to clarify and defend its position.
For your information, The Society, as the largest
body representing professional homeopaths, did ask to give oral
evidence to support its written submission but was refused.
Dr Harris asked Dr Fisher "What was your
reaction to The Society of Homeopath's symposium that argued that
AIDS could be treated homeopathically?"
This symposium on HIV/AIDS (2007) was just thata
symposiumor discussion forumto look at whether homeopathy
had a role to play in the treatment of patients with HIV/AIDS.
At no point was the symposium or The Society making claims that
homeopathy offered a cure for this terrible disease.
Dr Harris also spoke about disciplinary action,
including striking off members from a register and referred to
the 2006 undercover interviews of several homeopaths by the
organisation Sense About Science.
Dr Harris asked Dr Matthie whether any action
had been taken against any of the ten practitioners accused of
promoting "prophylactic homeopathic anti-malarials in the
absence of advice about conventional malarials and bed nets
being bitten." He continued by asking "Should The Society
of Homeopaths take and register someone who prescribes (prophylactics)?"
I would like to advise the Committee that, in
actual fact, only one of the practitioners interviewed for this
programme was a homeopath registered with The Society and that
after significant delay and reluctance on their part, Sense About
Science finally released the transcript of the relevant telephone
conversation to us for investigation. This was immediately forwarded
to our Professional Conduct Department, who reviewed it and concluded
that it had not breached The Society's Code of Ethics & Practice.
Whilst Dr Harris is right to be concerned about
the advice given to the public concerning homeopathy, it is dangerous
to assume that edited material on a television programme constitutes
evidence of malpractice. The propensity for trial by media must
surely be replaced by an independent adjudication process which
assesses all the evidence against a clearly laid out Code of Ethics
Of greater concern should surely be the number
of homeopaths in the UK who are not registered with any organisation.
Currently, there is no requirement for any training at all in
order to call oneself a homeopath. This is certainly a cause for
concern for The Society and I am sure, for the Select Committee
The Society of Homeopaths has a strict Code
of Ethics & Practice, which all registered members are required
to abide by. The ultimate sanction is removal from the register.
Indeed, during the last two years, two members have been removed
in this way. However, one of the flaws of this voluntary regulation
process is that anyone removed is free to simply transfer to another
You will be aware from our submission to the
Committee (although this was not mentioned at all during today's
session) that The Society is leading the call for the statutory
regulation of homeopaths, through its application to The Health
It was therefore encouraging to hear universal
support today for greater regulation of homeopaths. I hope, in
its summing up, that the committee makes this a formal recommendation
for future action by government.
The Society of Homeopaths