And so, as the government recoils in terror from a cut that might get some bad headlines, I notice another exemption to the age of austerity (via Catherine Bennett).
Andrew Lansley has replied to the Commons Health Select Committee’s (highly critical) paper on homeopathy. He says that funding of this practice is to continue, despite a mass of scientific advice to the contrary. And why? Simple: “the overriding reason for NHS provision is that homeopathy is available to provide patient choice”.
Yes, you can have homeopathy on the NHS not because it works but because you might want it. You can choose to waste my money on a piece of quackery. Super. So, can you ask for any useless ‘treatment’ at taxpayers’ expense? Well, no. It seems that the power of lobby groups comes into it. Lansley says: “Given the depth of feeling on each side of the debate, it is unlikely that this controversy could be resolved by further analysis of literature or research on the efficacy of homeopathy.”
The “depth of feeling”. Is that peer-reviewed depth of feeling? Have double-blind studies been used to measure how deep these feelings are? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. So it’s acknowledged that scientific evidence has no bearing on people’s tendencies to fall for the homeopathy industry’s PR, and in light of that, the government will boldly let them spend our money.
But how much money? Alas, we don’t know. The Committee urged Lansley to find out, but he replied that doing so “could well require a disproportionate amount of resource”.
This sits uneasily with David Cameron’s insistence [£] this weekend that “no detail and no sum of waste is too small to escape the microscope of efficiency… we are having a root-and-branch audit of recent public spending”.
Bah. And yes, Labour funded this crap as well. It’s cross-party pusillanimity.