• STV
  • MySTV

Woman loses legal bid to force NHS to provide homeopathic medicine

Honor Watt sued Lothian Health Board after they stopped providing the controversial treatments.

Homeopathy Homeopathic medicines Quality news imge flickr from Creative Commons uploaded August 28 2015
©Richard Craig Creative Commons (Cropped)

A grandmother has lost her legal battle to force a health board to provide controversial alternative medicines on the NHS.

Honor Watt, 73, sued Lothian Health Board in Edinburgh's Court of Session after the authority stopped providing homeopathic treatments to patients.

The board decided in June 2013 that the money spent on giving people the substances would be better spent on conventional medicines.

A report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said there is no evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.

Practitioners believe that using a diluted substance which causes certain symptoms can help to remove those symptoms

Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left.

Ms Watt suffers from arthritis and received homeopathic medicine for her debilitating condition.

Her lawyers decided to challenge the board's decision in the Court of Session claiming the health board acted illegally.

Ms Watt's solicitors claimed the Equality Act 2010 placed an obligation on the health board to ask their patients for their views on whether homeopathy should be continued to be funded.

The legislation states that public sector organisations have an obligation to consider their decisions on the terms of what is called a public sector equality duty.

This is designed to tackle racial, sex and economic class discrimination against people.

But on Friday, judge Lord Uist ruled that the health board acted legally and he refused to overturn the board's decision.

In a written judgement issued on Friday, Lord Uist wrote that the health board acted correctly.

He wrote: "It is clear to me from an examination of the relevant documents that the board was from the outset consciously focusing on its PSED."

The judgement states that Ms Watt, of Dalkeith, Midlothian, was first referred to the homeopathic service in 2003 suffering from anxiety.

She was given a homeopathic medicine called Bovista after telling medics that conventional medicine wasn't controlling her arthritis.

In January 2014, she was given a final appointment with the homeopathic service and told she was no longer entitled to homeopathic treatment.

However, the judgement states that Ms Watt still receives a prescription of homeopathic medicine.

Lothian Health Board decided to end homeopathic provision after concluding the money would be better spent on conventional treatments.

Studies conducted by medics have concluded that there is no proof that homeopathic medicine works.

The board made the decision after holding a consultation exercise and concluding that a minimum of NHS users would be affected by the decision.

In a report written by NHS employee Alyson Malone, the reasons for why the board should stop spending money on alternative treatment were set out.

Lord Uist wrote: "In that report she stated that the withdrawal of funding for homeopathic services would have a limited negative impact on patients and staff, the majority of patients were from more affluent areas and it was felt that they could perhaps afford to self fund alternative provision."

However, lawyers acting for Ms Watt claimed that the board didn't do enough to seek the views of those who used the service.

They argued that the board broke the terms of the 2010 Equality Act.

However, Lord Uist wrote that after examining the evidence, he concluded that the health board had done everything in its power and had made the correct decision.

He added: "I am satisfied that reduction of the board's decision of June 26 2013 would result only in a waste of time and public funds as it would inevitably result in exactly the same decision being taken by the board."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.