With an annual budget from the block grant given to Scotland by Westminster shrinking year by year, it is more important than ever that the Scottish Government continue to competently take the best decisions on public spending that are in the best interests of the people of Scotland. And especially in the area of health, devolved to Holyrood, this is more important than ever.
On the 20th September 2015, it was reported by The Scotsman’s Martyn McLaughlin that nearly £2 million was spent on homeopathy within NHS Scotland last year. When that is contextualised within the annual budget for the Scottish health service then it may seem like an absolutely insignificant sum.
But then again, it really isn’t. A figure of around £1.83 million (the actual amount spent on homeopathy within NHS Scotland last year) could fund for approximately 25 General Practitioners, 70 Registered Nurses or even 50 Prescribing Support Pharmacists. The money spent on homeopathy should be re-directed towards our primary and secondary care settings in order to give NHS Scotland a much needed boost in staffing resources.
As a qualified pharmacist myself and currently a nominee for the Scottish National Party for Mid Scotland and Fife, I hold much gravitas on this issue. If elected as an MSP to the Scottish Parliament next year, I will make it a personal pledge of mine to ensure that a moratorium is brought about and implemented. The SNP currently do not have a specific policy regarding the potential abolition of homeopathic prescribing, but I want to lead the way on this particular issue as it arguably falls within my professional remit.
It is essential that in the process of a moratorium being enforced that a consultation should take place in the aftermath to seek the viewpoints of all concerned stakeholders over the future of homeopathic prescribing. In that event, I will robustly argue and campaign with a personal view for the prescribing of homeopathic products to be ended permanently. And I also echo the calls by Dr Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland, for no further money to be spent on homeopathy.
Homeopathy is no better than a placebo – this was a key finding from a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report in 2010. Why any amount of taxpayers cash is being spent on an unproven and so called “treatment” is baffling and morally indefensible. And in the wake of the news report published by The Scotsman, I also welcome the excellent insight into the issue of homeopathy last week which was written by fellow Common Space columnist James McEnaney.
Action must be taken promptly to safeguard vital financial resources for NHS Scotland. And Scotland must lead the way in setting an example internationally.