England: You have four days to reply to the secret consultation on the NHS's future

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If you guys stopped spending millions of pounds a year on homeopathy, acupuncture and TCM bullshit,you might have more money to pay for legitimate medicine based on evidence.

Fortunately, this current consultation is also currently looking at blacklisting such utter quackery.

Can’t say I know a whole lot about “coded policy signals”, but at least according to the Merseyside
skeptics, there’s been a lot of accusations flying that their work is somehow trying to defund the NHS by stealth, when what they’re quite obviously doing is holding the government accountable for its squandering taxpayer money on magic potions and fairy dust.


The Red Squirrel Has A Broken Leg.

Next transmission tonight at 2400.

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Whatever millions my benighted compatriots spend on quack treatments via the NHS, it’s dwarfed by the billions spent on real medicine.

The problem isn’t paying for treatment; it’s the fair distribution of whatever treatments are available. It’s this that successive governments have ignored. Up until this one, which actively and openly seeks to subvert this core value of the NHS.


Holding “the government” accountable by taking away health care from the people? You’re aware that in a democracy, the government is the people, right? Less so in a limited monarchy, but I don’t think it’s the Lords you’re blaming here.


No, I’m not saying taking away healthcare is a good thing. I’m very narrowly looking at specific practices that aren’t supported by logic, much less evidence. I see now that there actually are conservative politicians trying increasingly to privatize the NHS. I don’t think that’s a good thing. What I’m complaining about is the fact that if the Tories are going to cite budgetary issues and waste, they can start by ceasing to pay for magic spells, sugar pills, and water.

Denying people of quackery is in no way denying them of healthcare. And perhaps I’m a one-trick-pony, but when I see that the UK’s NHS has spent 7 million pounds in the last year on homeopathic remedies, and various conservative elements yelling about how the NHS can’t be paid for, then it makes sense to me to stop letting the NHS pay for stuff that’s obviously not medicine. Stuff that’s been proven not to work for over 200 years now.

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On the other hand, a sugar pill can sometimes act purely as a placebo, address a psychosomatic ailment, and save a lot of further chasing of expensive specialists. A deeper cost-benefit analysis could show it actually is (or isn’t) a cost-effective thing.

If you’re that bad of a hypochondriac, you probably should see a psychologist and look into getting treatment for OCD or an anxiety disorder. Legitimate treatment. By an actual doctor who went to med school and understands the scientific method.

On one hand, true.
On the other one, it is likely to be much more expensive.


Well, I’ll take the difficult and costly treatment that actually fixes the real problem over a sweet-tasting lie any day.

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At the end, you want the symptoms to be gone.
Also, “responds to a homeopathic treatment” is quite a telling diagnostic test.

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Acronyms are the fucking worst. NHS? Yeah, I figured out this post was about the National Heath Service in the UK. But, FFS, any acronym introduced in a public/general sphere should have an “(explanation)” around it in the first instance…

Minor gripe, I know… but still… READABILITY

It would help if you wouldn’t comment on stuff you clearly know nothing about. The NHS spends £ 4 Million max on Homeopathy while its annual budget is around £ 100 Billion. You do the math on how those figures relate to each other and how saving £4 Million is going to save a system that has been starved of funds for years. Health spending is considerable lower in the UK than in any comparable OECD economy and quackery has nothing to do with that.

One of the great things about the NHS is that unlike other health systems it has very robust procedures to test the efficacy of medical interventions (it’s called NICE, look it up), far more robust than health delivery systems in the US, which are far more vulnerable to commercial pressures or as you call it “magic potions and fairy dust”.

Really infuriating to read such uninformed, off the mark on a very important subject that effects the health of 60 Million people.

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If you are on a mission to rid the world of all in effective / unevidenced medical treatments why not start with the big pharmaceuticals pushing their drugs. How about entering the statin discussion / or HRT or various other controversial difficult issues which actually have more serious impact on the budget.

The real serious issue when it comes to healthcare spending is the fact that 30% of healthcare spending is spent in people’s last year of life mainly on intensive care inventions, which by definition do not prolong people’s life and often significantly reduce people’s quality of life. Turning that around, changing how we look after the dying could really make a difference to healthcare spending, except that there are vested interests not to keen on significant change in that direction. See Atul Gawande on the subject. But if it makes you feel better you can of course keep punching the quackery straw man, which has nothing to do with the English NHS.

As to accountability. Surely, an accountable government would make sure that when they run a consultation the citizens are acutely aware of said consultation and can easily comment?

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You make a better general point than I did.

I was very eager to jump in with my own specific area of expertise. And it’s certainly true that HRT, Statins, and end of life care aren’t being looked at with enough scrutiny either.

I probably could have stood to stay out of the discussion until I had processed the article.

In anycase, I’m not going to back down on homeopathy. It’s no more a medicine than its components, water and sugar. And shaking stuff really hard.

But I’ll concede that I started out with a derail, and that I’m not exactly knowledgeable about the NHS other than its basics, and what I’ve learned from various British skeptics podcasts.

I’d like to specifically second you on this point. Thinking about end of life decisions is sorely lacking among the general public of the entire developed world. When you ask healthcare workers about this and what they’d choose for themselves, they pretty much unanimously say that faced with a terminal disease, they’d prefer good palliative care and to let most of those diseases run their course while they remain comfortable and die peacefully with their loved ones.


Thanks for being open-minded.


Interestingly enough, public satisfaction with the NHS is up, up, up…

so whatever’s being done to it seems to be working, or at least not failing.

From the conclusions:

However, given the much publicised financial pressures and difficulties in meeting waiting times targets in 2014, an alternative interpretation would be that the positive views reflect a desire to stand up for the service or express solidarity for it during a difficult time.

The idea that people would begin to report more positive feelings at a time when there are political and economic threats to the system strikes me as a distinct possibility. It’s easy and actually useful to complain when something is always there for you as a driver for ever more improvement. Start to “fix” it by dismantling and privatizing, and all of a sudden it becomes the thing you appreciate more, because you realize it might be gone soon. Kind of a way to say, “Oh that’s what you were going to do with out complaints? Kill it, well, then, if you must know, I rather like it.”

Have you seen what they charge for the supplements and such? It can’t be that much more expensive…

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