Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Sep/12

5

Lunatic, Asylum, etc.

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Just when you think that David Cameron’s stumblebum government cannot get any worse, here’s a piece of news that does not bode well for British patients, taxpayers or both.

Tom Chivers writes in The Daily Telegraph:

The man [just] put in charge of the [UK's] health policy is on record as supporting spending public money on magic water to cure disease. Here’s the text of an Early Day Motion he signed in 2007:

That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to the health of the nation by the NHS homeopathic hospitals; notes that some six million people use complementary treatments each year; believes that complementary medicine has the potential to offer clinically-effective and cost-effective solutions to common health problems faced by NHS patients, including chronic difficult to treat conditions such as musculoskeletal and other chronic pain, eczema, depression, anxiety and insomnia, allergy, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome; expresses concern that NHS cuts are threatening the future of these hospitals; and calls on the Government actively to support these valuable national assets.

And here’s the letter Mr Hunt sent to a concerned constituent who pointed out that homeopathy doesn’t work:

Dear Mr Ellis,

Thank you very much for your letter regarding EDM 1240 in support of Homeopathic Hospitals. I appreciate that you are disappointed that I added my name to this motion, and read your comments on this issue with interest.

I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is “patient-led” it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient.

I am grateful to you for taking the time to write with your concerns. I realise that my answer will be a disappointing one for you, but I hope that the letter helps to clarify my view.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed)
Jeremy Hunt Member of Parliament South West Surrey

Hat-tip to Chris Coltrane on Twitter and the Mote Prime blog.

I probably don’t need to rehearse this, but: homeopathy does not work. Homeopathy is the treatment of disease using literally non-existent amounts of ingredients which wouldn’t cure the problem even if they were actually there. It is not to be confused with herbal medicine, which often involves real active substances (eg aspirin, which is distilled from willow-bark). If homeopathy worked, we would need to explain how this non-existent substance did what it does: but it doesn’t work, so we don’t. Homeopathic hospitals are not “valuable national assets”, they’re £7-million-a-year white elephants for middle-class hypochondriac hippies.

This is not unlike putting someone who thinks the Second World War began in 1986 in charge of the Department of Education.

Or following the advice of foes of the taxpayer like Orrin Hatch, the numbskull who wanted Christian Science prayer ‘treatments’ added to Obamacare’s bounty.

Hunt should be fired.

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2 comments

  • Polichinello · September 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Rent-seekers are attracted to government programs like flies to…well, I’m sure you can finish the sentence.

    The temptation also works the other way. Government can’t merely wish competent medical service into existence, but it’s happy to placate constituents with low-cost and readily available placebos. It sounds better than getting on a 6-month waiting list, or just being flat turned down.

  • ahornaday · September 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    David Mitchell and Robert Webb did a hilarious send-up of homeopathy in this skit:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

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