The report following the UK Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee Evidence Check into homeopathy is due to be published any day now.
Homeopaths should expect a critical report given the way the Check was handled.
Why it was even on the agenda when the UK is currently challenged on so many serious issues we can only surmise.
Why the witnesses called were overwhelmingly anti-homeopathy (6 out of 9) and several of them with no real understanding of what homeopathy is and is not - is another question that needs to be asked.
The Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Mr. Phil Willis, was at pains to explain at the second meeting that the Evidence Check was NOT about whether homeopathy works or not:
“….there seems to be a little confusion about the nature of the work that we are doing, this is not an inquiry into whether homeopathy works or not. This is an inquiry which follows a series of evidence checks across a number of government departments to see whether in fact there was any evidence to support the Government's policy towards homeopathy. I want to make that absolutely clear.”
And then Mr Willis proceeded to ask one witness after another, "Does homeopathy work beyond the placebo effect?"
The Evidence Check was derailed onto RCTs (Random Controlled Trials) - it was all that was discussed in terms of evidence - back and forth - meta-analysis after meta-analysis - this trial and that trial - despite the Chair's assertion that this Evidence Check was supposed to look at the evidence that INFORMS the government's policy on homeopathy.
What SHOULD have been discussed are the reports from the homeopathic hospitals, submitted to the committee and detailing effectiveness, cost effectiveness and patient satisfaction - all of which are high. The results of the 2008 Get Well UK Northern Ireland government project are in and are similarly impressive as far as provision of cost effective services are concerned.
When questioned, Mike O’Brien, the Minister for Health, did not mention the reports, and for reasons which will never be clear, said that the Northern Ireland project didn’t include homeopathy!
Yes it did - and homeopathy was found to be very effective by the GPs who referred their "heart sink" patients to the project.
That’s homeopathy in the real world with real patients getting satisfaction often when conventional medicine has failed to help them. WHAT MORE EVIDENCE DOES THE GOVERNMENT NEED TO INFORM ITS POLICY?
And why oh why was it not brought to the committee's attention like a stuck record that RCTs cannot adequately test the system that is homeopathy.
Why oh why do we insist on trying to play by rules that cannot serve us. As I said in a letter to my MP Ian Stewart, who sits on the Science and Tech Committee - the fact that homeopathy has ANY positive RCTs is a miracle in itself - tantamount to running the 100 m sprint wearing a blindfold and shackles and still making it to the finish line.
It's a fact that we should insist is taken into account.
The Evidence Check was a set up to begin with, so we should expect a report that reflects that fact.
You can watch the BBC programme of the Get Well UK project here.