Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Society of Homeopaths (HO 23a)


  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 that—a symposium—or discussion forum—to 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…avoiding 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 & Practice?

  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 also.

  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 register.

  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 Professions Council.

  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.

Paula Ross

Chief Executive

The Society of Homeopaths

November 2009

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