NHS Lanarkshire is to stop referrals to the Centre for Integrative Care in Glasgow from April next year despite overwhelming support from patients to continue the service.
Dr Harpreet Kohli, the board’s director of public health and health policy, said there was “insufficient evidence” that homeopathic remedies improved the health of patients.
The decision follows a four-year review which looked at evidence from patients, GPs and health professionals.
NHS Highland and NHS Lothian have already withdrawn funding for referrals.
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it was “reliant on the ongoing commitment” from other health boards, raising fears about the future of the service.
Dr Kohli said the decision to stop referring patients to the centre was taken due to a lack of evidence for the clinical effectiveness of the services.
He said: “I accept that there will always be views from some patients expressing benefit from the service and I also recognise that the majority of those who responded to our consultation expressed a preference for continuing to use the CIC.
“However, there has been extensive investigation of the effectiveness of homoeopathy and there is no good-quality evidence that it is effective as a treatment for any health condition.
“There is also strong, clear and unambiguous evidence which shows that homoeopathy and other services provided by the CIC are lacking in terms of therapeutic benefit.”
The Centre for Integrative Care is one of four in the UK funded by the NHS and treats seriously ill patients suffering problems from cancer to motor neurone disease.
Conventional medicine is combined with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.
NHS Highland became the first Scottish health board to stop new patients being referred to homeopathic services in 2010 and NHS Lothian followed suit in 2013.
It led to fears for the future of the service but at an NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde board meeting last year, Health Secretary Alex Neil vowed to protect the hospital from closure.
A petition to safeguard the future of the hospital has also been signed by thousands of people from all over the UK.
Around 6,000 responses were submitted to NHS Lanarkshire’s consultation on the issue, with eight in 10 of the submissions saying that patients should continue to be referred to the centre. However, the opinions were split between patients and medics. Around half (50.7 per cent) of health professionals opted for referrals to continue, compared with 96.1 per cent of those replying on behalf of people who use the service.
A total of 57 GPs replied to an online survey, one-third of whom rated the service as of good or great value. Almost half said it was of no or little value while the remainder were neutral.
Patients from NHS Lanarkshire who are already using the centre will continue to do so but people needing referred for the first time from April 1 will be offered pain management, counselling, psychology and acupuncture within the health board area.
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We are reliant on the ongoing commitment from other boards to make use of the inpatient services to maintain their viability.” [Source]