Patients can choose homeopathy
Homeopathy has always been a part of the NHS. There are three NHS homeopathic hospitals: Bristol, Glasgow, and London.
There are also a number of NHS homeopathic clinics around the country and over 400 GPs use homeopathy in their everyday practice.
Use this section of the website to find out how to get a referral and what to do if you encounter problems accessing treatment.
NHS referrals for homeopathy
Asking to be referred
If there is a homeopathic GP in your area, you may be able to register with them – use our practitioner search to find out if there is one near you. Otherwise, you will need to ask your current doctor or specialist for a referral to one of the homeopathic hospitals or clinics, or to a homeopathic GP who takes NHS referrals. Your doctor can either use the choose and book system or apply directly to the Primary Care Trust (PCT) or Local Health Board (LHB) on your behalf.
Under the terms of his/her contract, your GP is obliged to refer you for other NHS services if you ask for them. Referral to doctors working at the homeopathic hospitals, clinics and in private practice fulfills this responsibility.
Your GP will want to be satisfied that the treatment you request meets your needs and he/she may want to know if there is evidence to back it up. You can use our two-page summary of evidence to show your doctor that there is a good body of positive research in homeopathy. In some cases we can also provide you with information on your specific condition – call us on 0203 640 5903 to find out.
If your GP decides that homeopathic treatment is not appropriate, he or she should discuss this with you. If you do not feel that your GP has given you a satisfactory explanation, there are other things you can do:
1. Contact the BHA – we can help you to make a good case for asking your GP to re-consider their decision.
2. Request a second opinion from another doctor at the practice.
3. Register with another GP in your area who is open to referring patients for homeopathy.
Got a referral but there’s no local funding?
It is likely that your referral to a homeopathic hospital or clinic will be funded by your PCT in England or LHB in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However some GPs might not know about the funding arrangements for NHS homeopathy, in which case the homeopathic hospital where the referral is being requested can usually advise.
There are some PCTs/LHBs that restrict access to homeopathic treatment and who will only fund GPs to refer patients in exceptional cases. If this is the case where you live, your referral will go to a panel of doctors and managers who will decide whether your treatment can be funded. The PCT/LHB must ensure that your request is considered on its individual merits.
If funding for homeopathy is refused
If you still cannot get an initial referral from your GP or specialist, of if you have the referral but the funding is refused, you may like to make a formal complaint. If you live in England and want to take your case further, contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). To find your nearest PALS contact, telephone NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit their page on the NHS site.
If you live in Wales, your local Community Health Council can point you in the right direction. In Scotland, the Scottish Health Council can help you and in Northern Ireland, the local Health Council can guide you. These bodies will help you to liaise with the practice, PCT or LHB making the decision.
Your rights to treatment
The Department of Health has confirmed that doctors can refer a patient for homeopathic treatment within the NHS.
Local funding decisions
Patients do not have an absolute right to any treatment on the NHS (including homeopathy), as clinical and funding judgements are always made before patients are referred to particular services. NHS Trusts are responsible for making decisions about local NHS funding.
The boards of Primary Care Trusts are required to hold their meetings in public and to take the views of local people into account. Many boards give members of the public an opportunity to ask questions and make comments at their meetings.
Campaign for NHS homeopathy
Giving patients choice
The BHA is committed to the widespread availability of homeopathy across the NHS. For six different ways to help us to keep homeopathy in the NHS, visit our campaign pages.
You can help us to keep homeopathy in the NHS by joining the BHA as a Friend. Your support will allow us to continue our campaigning work and continue to fight for what patients want – a choice of healthcare.