Scotland spends millions on homeopathy

More than £12 million has been spent by Scottish hospitals on homeopathic treatment over the last five years, according to new figures.

The freedom of information request revealed vast disparities of spending on the controversial treatment programme, with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spending £9 million, while Fife, Forth Valley and Lanarkshire did not spend anything at all.

The variation in spending reveals how divided opinions remain on the treatments.

Medical experts scoff at homeopathy as no more than 'magic water' – diluting the substance which causes the illness to trace amounts.

But there are sustained reports from patients who find the treatment effective, even if for psychosomatic reasons.

"It doesn’t really matter whether you think homeopathy is a lifesaver or a nonsense, this disparity has to end," Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said.

"We need a proper debate on the merits of the treatment so a proper approach can be taken to this.

"It is difficult for health boards when you have doctors on one side vehemently discrediting homeopathy, yet hundreds of patients on the other giving very compelling accounts of why it works for them."

Plans by NHS Lothian to scrap its homeopathic service caused uproar among patients earlier this year.

Dr Charles Saunders, deputy chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said: "While the BMA supports the policy to allow NHS boards to make their own decisions about how to spend their resources, we are concerned that scarce funding will be spent on 'treatment' that has no scientific evidence base to support its use."