Homeopathy in the NHS (National Health Service): Diluted but Active
05 February 2020 (online)
Background: Despite being used satisfactorily by millions of people worldwide for a range of conditions, and the homeopathy community’s efforts to integrate homeopathy into NHS services, homeopathy provision has been declining.
Aim: A pragmatic investigation of the integration of homeopathy in the UK NHS.
Method: A nationwide postal survey among 144 members of the Faculty of Homeopathy mapped demographic data and integration of homeopathy services in the NHS, building on a Canadian integration model proposed by Boon in 2004. To enable a comprehensive understanding, 10 semi-structured interviews explored homeopaths' strategies to integrate homeopathy successfully into NHS services.
Results: A sample of 72 respondents revealed that 27 were actively offering homeopathy treatment in their NHS service. According to the continuum proposed by Boon, UK services integrating homeopathy treatment are characterised as collaborative and multidisciplinary. Seven profiles of homeopathic providers in the NHS could be distinguished. In the interviews, several suggestions were put forward to restore the badly damaged image of homeopathy. The interviewees disagreed about whether integration was the preferred strategy to reach this goal, or even whether integration was desirable at all, but the accreditation of homeopathy within the healthcare system was deemed vital for the survival of homeopathy, even for the success of private practices. A lack of resources and the dwindling numbers of newly trained homeopathy practitioners were mentioned as a matter of concern. A major frustration was the negation of existing evidence for homeopathy, leaving homeopaths questioning what kind of evidence – from fundamental research or from outcome studies – would be the best way forward.
Conclusion: Despite positive results regarding the integration of homeopathic services in the NHS, the information disclosed in the interviews revealed a concern about the survival of homeopathy.
Keywords: Health service, homeopathy, integration