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May 16, 2010 at 08:30pm IST

Homeopathy is witchcraft, says UK medical body

London: Homeopathy is "witchcraft", the British Medical Association (BMA) has said, adding: "If people wish to pay for homoeopathy that's their choice but it shouldn't be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works."

Hundreds of BMA members have passed a motion criticising alternative medicine use and they demanded that taxpayers should not pay for bills for remedies with no scientific basis to support them, The Telegraph reported on Saturday.

"Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street (in London) there is a National Hospital for Homeopathy which is paid for by the NHS (National Health Service)," Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman of the BMA's junior doctors committee in England, was quoted as saying at an annual conference.

The British Medical Association says that there is no scientific basis to support that it works.

Homeopathy was devised in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann.

Gordon Lehany, chairman of the BMA's junior doctors committee in Scotland, told the conference in London last weekend: "At a time when the NHS is struggling for cash we should be focusing on treatments that have proven benefit. If people wish to pay for homoeopathy that's their choice but it shouldn't be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works."

BMA chairman Hamish Meldrum supported the motion.

A report by parliamentarians in February said the alternative medicine should not receive state funding.

About 54,000 patients are treated each year at four NHS homeopathic hospitals in London, Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool.

Seventy percent of patients said they felt some improvement, according to a survey at NHS homeopathic hospitals.

"Homeopathy helps thousands of people who are not helped by conventional care. We don't want it to be a substitute for mainstream care, but when people are thinking about making cuts to funding, I think they need to consider public satisfaction, and see that homoeopathy has a place in medicine," Crystal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association (BHA), was quoted as saying.

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