We are launching the second part of our campaign to help fund the legal fees for our judicial review hearing which has been set for 1 May. Your support will help make NHS England more accountable, defend patient choice and, more importantly, ensure patients have genuine input on their access to cost-effective healthcare they use and need – in this case HOMEOPATHY!
We want to raise over £10,000 to cover part of the legal fees for our hearing. We previously raised over £18,000 to get the judicial review application submitted to court, which provided substantial grounds for NHS England to answer.
The background to our case
The NHS England Consultation on ‘Items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care’ included a proposal for future statutory guidance that homeopathy should not be prescribed to existing or new patients within the NHS. This consultation closed in October 2017 with recommendations issued by NHS England on 30 November 2017 to stop funding homeopathic prescriptions.
We understand that expenditure needs to be reviewed, but any review of services must be done lawfully and with proper consideration given to the views of the patients receiving the services and the healthcare professionals delivering them.
That is why the BHA made an application for judicial review in October 2017. The basis of our legal challenge is that the consultation was fundamentally flawed from the outset, in that the proposal was formulated without seeking any input from homeopathy experts or practitioners; it was not a genuine attempt to engage patients and healthcare professionals (a decision having been ostensibly predetermined); and did not provide adequate information for them to make a considered and informed response.
We are also challenging NHS England’s decision to go ahead with the proposals and publish national guidance that homeopathic medicines should no longer be routinely prescribed by GPs. We are concerned that NHS England has failed to consider the effect of its decision on those patients with protected characteristics (e.g. the elderly, chronically, sick, disabled etc), which is in breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty. The judicial review seeks, among other things, a declaration that NHS England has acted unlawfully in relation to its proposals and subsequent decision, on the basis of its failure to consult on them properly and to listen to patients!
People treated with homeopathy on the NHS have found it to be beneficial to their health, quite often after they’ve failed to respond to conventional treatments or where conventional treatments do not exist. It is also used to help alleviate the side-effects of conventional treatments and/or in place of antibiotics and other medicines which the NHS wants to reduce. With NHS England issuing these recommendations in November 2017, the BHA understands from GPs that CCGs have stopped them from prescribing homeopathic medicines which is having an effect on patients. Often chronically ill and on small fixed incomes, these patients are now compelled either to pay for homeopathic services or to use alternative and often more costly NHS services/medicines.
A parliamentary petition to stop NHS England from removing herbal and homeopathic medicines received 34,670 signatures from across all of the UK, demonstrating that this is an important issue across the nation.
We have been granted a ‘rolled up’ hearing where the grounds for permission to bring the judicial review and the case will be heard at the same time. This will be on 1-3 May 2018 in the Administrative Court at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. We have engaged solicitors Bates Wells Braithwaite, led by Emma Dowden-Teale, recognised for their expertise in judicial reviews and a highly regarded QC, Richard Clayton QC, who has an outstanding track record in cases involving public policy.
Any financial support you can offer will not only help us defend the right of patients to choose to be treated with homeopathy on the NHS, but the rights of all patients to have a genuine say in the services that their National Health Service provides.