A decision on the future of the NHS funded homeopathy service in the area is due to be taken next week.
BNSSG CCG is currently the only CCG in England routinely funding homeopathy.
The Governing Body of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) CCG is set to consider a report at its public meeting next week (Tuesday 7 August) which recommends NHS funded homeopathy would only be available in exceptional circumstances.
If approved, the CCG’s Individual Funding Request (IFR) Panel would need a clinician to set out why the patient is clinically exceptional.
“In putting the report together, staff and clinicians from across the CCG have closely examined the full range of clinical evidence available from both sides of the debate, consulted with local people, clinicians, patient groups and providers of homeopathic treatments and looked at national guidance,” said Dr Peter Brindle, BNSSG CCG’s Medical Director for Clinical Effectiveness.
It is estimated that the number of patients receiving NHS funded homeopathic consultations in the area is around 40 per year and costs £109,476. This equates to around a further 22 hip replacements or 170 cataract operations.
The report says that BNSSG CCG is ‘striving to become an evidence-informed organisation as it needs to make the best use of all resources to offer treatment and care to the widest and largest range of people’.
The CCG needs to make savings of £37m in this financial year as part of a long term strategy to get health and care spending under control
Homeopathy is one of several services that have been reviewed including over the counter medicines, breast reconstruction after cancer, cosmetic surgery, liver disease and sleep apnoea.
The issue of NHS funded homeopathy treatments in the area has been under consideration since last summer when over 2,000 people responded to a consultation exercise.
Half of those who responded were from outside Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire but over 75% of local people agreed that homeopathy on the NHS should be decommissioned.
At the time, the CCGs governing body decided to defer a decision until 2018 to allow more engagement with the service provider and local service users and to allow evidence from an NHS review and national consultation to be considered.
Three options were consulted upon during early 2018. These were to continue to provide NHS funded homeopathy under the current ‘prior approval’ policy, to amend the current policy and provide homeopathy in a more targeted manner or to make it available only in exceptional circumstances.
Feedback from this second consultation exercise showed there were similar levels of support for the continuation of the current policy and the option to make it available only in exceptional circumstances.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not recommend using homeopathy for any clinical condition.