Thursday, 16 November 2017

Yippee! Another Wonder Drug, this time for Breast Cancer! But does it stand up to media hype? And is there a better alternative?

The avalanche of new wonder drugs never seems to cease. There are only two other things seem to match the sheer numbers of these announcements:

  • the rise of the diseases these drugs are supposed to treat
  • and the profits of the pharmaceutical industry
Still, lets take a look at the two new wonder treatments for advance breast cancer. As I often do, I have used the BBC News feature to describe how they act as advertising agents for the drug company, Pfizer. They always regurgitate the press release, unquestioned and unexamined, as do the rest of our 'free' news organisations!

The BBC described them as 'breakthrough', 'life-changing' drugs, as usual. The news story is that they have now been approved for use in the NHS by NICE, which is not a surprise as they are funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and by people who have worked, or will work in the industry. The drugs are called palbociclib and ribociclib.

Palbociclib was approved in the USA in February 2015, Ribociclib in 2017. Apparently, these breakthrough drugs slow down advanced breast cancer to about 10 months, and can delay the need for chemotherapy. Even if the terms 'breakthrough' and 'life-changing' are supported by these claims is questionable, but certainly they come at a cost. The BBC reported that just one cycle of palbociclib, 21 capsules, £2,950, and for 63 tablets of ribociclib, the price is the same.

To support the case for the drugs the BBC used a patient who had used the drug (without using the word 'anacdotal'), the head of oncology at Pfizer UK, and a professor of molecular oncology from the Institute of Cancer Research, who was also a consultant medical oncologist, and the Professor who led the clinical trials. The latter said that "these drugs have allowed women to live a normal life for longer".

As usual, no-one from outside the conventional medical establishment was asked to comment. And on the Today programme, no questions were asked about the side effects of the drug. The Drug.com website has produced these for both palbociclib and for ribociclib, at least those currently accepted, these being drug used sparingly over a short period, and with very few patients. For palbociclib they include:

  • body aches or pain
  • ear congestion
  • fever
  • headache
  • loss of voice
  • painful or difficult urination
  • swelling or inflammation of the mouth
  • trouble breathing
  • ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Anxiety
  • chest pain
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • sudden shortness of breath or troubled breathing

As usual, our mainstream media does not believe that patients are entitled to know about these. It is difficult to know how patients can make an 'informed choice' about whether to take these drugs, or other pharmaceutical drugs, without this knowledge. The only side effect mentioned was from the patient who had tried the drug "You get slight fatigue from it, but it was manageable..." was all she said, perhaps someone who had a better than normal experience of the drug, and perhaps someone put forward by the drug company for this very reason.

I would predict that in time the adverse drug reactions will be far worse that those already known. This has been the history of every pharmaceutical drug, and there is no reason to think that these drugs will be any different.

Breast cancer patients require treatment. And there is safer, and more effective treatment (providing a life expectancy gain far in excess of 10 months). It is homeopathy. I have written about it many times before, although this one was criticised for being 'anacdotal (something convention medicine does not do, of course)! First, cancer is often the end result, the 'side effects' of pharmaceutical drugs taken for other conditions. So to avoid cancer it is sensible to avoid these drugs. But in addition there is research evidence to confirm over 200 years of clinical outcomes, that homeopathy is an effective treatment for cancer. Yet the media is not interest, of course. So although Homeopathy might be able to provide effective treatment for cancer, including breast cancer, this is not considered to be a medical 'breakthrough', it is not considered to be 'life changing'.

But, of course, it is!



Friday, 10 November 2017

The NHS Crisis (2017-2018)

This is becoming an annual blog - the British NHS in crisis! Despite spending increasing £ billions on the NHS over the last 70 years, the amount of sickness and disease continues to increase, demand for conventional health care expands year by year, hospital waiting times lengthen, difficulty getting an appointment with a doctor more difficult, and major demands for yet more funding become shriller and more strident.

So the pattern is this - increased sickness, followed by increased spending on conventional medicine, followed by even more sickness, and increased demands for even more money. Yet no one EVER questions whether spending more money on a medical system that is clearly and demonstrably failing is the appropriate response to NHS problems. It has always been thus - read my previous blogs.

This year, the expected crisis has been heralded by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England since April 2014. His recent speech, made two weeks before the Budget, outlines the crisis that he is expecting this winter. For a fuller account of what he said go to the Telegraph report of his speech.  Basically, what he said was that NHS performance would decline significantly without an immediate cash injection, and made the usual case for spending more money, - an extra £4 billion next year. He warned that if increases were limited to 0.4% next year, as currently planned, it would mean deeper rationing of care, staff cuts and record waiting lists. He added that the budget for next year would fall “well short of what is currently needed to properly look after our patients.” He continued

               "Our duty of candour requires us to explain the consequences of these decisions to help inform the difficult choices that will be made in the years ahead.”

My duty of candour is to ask why it is that, year by year, the conventional medical establishment is still unable to cope with the demand for health services, and ask the pertinent question - why the medicine the NHS is using consistently leads to increasing rather than reducing demands on those health services. 
  • Should we not expect that patients get well after treatment? 
  • And certainly that they don't get sicker, leading to increased levels of health need.
Anyway, these are a few of Simon Stevens chilling warnings about what he expects to happen over the winter of 2017-2018, and his demands for yet more money for the NHS.
  • He says that without extra funding, waiting times would rise to a record high of 5 million patients, an extra million people on the waiting list, with 1 in 10 people stuck on a waiting list by 2021. It would be, he said, the highest number ever!
  • He stated that the deterioration would be so steep that Parliament would need to pass new laws, abolishing rights to treatment within 18 weeks.
  •      "It boils down to this, on the current budget, far from growing the number of nurses and other frontline staff, in many parts of the country next year hospitals, community health services and GPs are more likely to be retrenching and retreating.
  •      "On the current funding outlook, it is going to be increasingly hard to expand mental health services or improve cancer care. Services the public need and rightly want.
  • He said that the NHS has already "reluctantly" limited the annual increase of waiting list operations, to protect funding for Accident & Emergency, Mental Health services, and GP care, and that these temporary measures to manage demand would have to become permanent.
  • He said that this would mean that the government would have to publicly, legally abolish patients' national waiting times guarantees.
Stevens went on to claim that the British NHS were underfunded by some £20 to £30 billion per year! This is on top of the (approximately) £120 billion already being spent on conventional health care! And in demanding more resources he referred to the Brexit battle bus, and the slogan on its side, 'Vote Leave for a better funded health service, £350m a week'. This is the amount of additional money he is looking for, amounting to £18,200 billion every year. Stevens demands also came with a threat to politicians.

               "Rather than our criticising these clear Brexit funding commitments to NHS patients - promises entered into by cabinet ministers and by MPs - the public want to see them honoured. Trust in democratic politics will not be strengthened if anyone now tries to argue, 'You voted Brexit, partly for a better funded health service. But precisely because of Brexit, you now can't have one.'"

So what would this staggering increase in NHS resources be spend on? The same as before! The same failed conventional treatments, the same failed pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, with all their side effects and adverse reactions. 

In the Telegraph article, referred to above, it is interesting to see a conventional medical explanation for why the NHS is under so much pressure. It gives 4 separate reasons.
  1. An ageing population. There are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago. This has caused a surge in demand for medical care.
  2. Cuts to budgets for social care. While the NHS budget has been protected, social services for home helps and other care have fallen by 11 per cent in five years. This has caused record levels of “bedblocking”; people with no medical need to be in hospital are stuck there because they can’t be supported at home. 
  3. Staff shortages. While hospital doctor and nurse numbers have risen over the last decade, they have not kept pace with the rise in demand. Meanwhile 2016 saw record numbers of GP practices close, displacing patients on to A&E departments as they seek medical advice
  4. Lifestyle factors. Drinking too much alcohol, smoking, a poor diet with not enough fruit and vegetables and not doing enough exercise are all major reasons for becoming unwell and needing to rely on our health services. Growing numbers of overweight children show this problem is currently set to continue
These are all inadequate explanations, singly and together.
  1. There are indeed more older people, but demand is not coming just from older people now. Diseases once believed to be a product of ageing now strikes people of all ages. The huge increase in Cancer now affects all age groups, including very young children. Diabetes strikes irrespective of age. Arthritis and joint replacements is no longer age sensitive, with younger people suffering the complaint, and replacement surgery. The rise and rise of heart, liver and kidney disease, and the need for organ transplantation, similarly affects younger, middle aged and older people.
  2. Conventional medicine has been able to keep people alive, but it has not been able to maintain people's quality of life. So whilst more people may be kept alive after illness, but without the ability to function adequately, or to cope with the everyday tasks of living. They are alive but dependent, and this is the result of health services, dominated by conventional medicine, for over 70 years.
  3. This is not an explanation. Staff shortages are the direct result of the failure of conventional medicine to make patients better. More demand for health services, more sickness, more dependency on car leads to the need for more doctors, more nurses, and other medical personnel.
  4. Lifestyle factors have always been a factor in our health, both individually and as a nation. In the past conventional medicine has been tardy in its recognising the importance of lifestyle factors to health, preferring instead to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs to deal with the resulting problems rather than pointing to the need for lifestyle change.
So how difficult the winter of 2017/2018 will be for the British NHS remains to be seen. No doubt I will be blogging about this in due course! But one thing is certain - spending more money on the same old, failed medicine will not improve matters. Indeed, it will make matters worse. The side effects and adverse effects of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines are misnomers. They are really new illnesses and disease, all of which have to be treated. And when they are treated, with more pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, the sicker patients become, and the more demand they make on health services.

It is a horrible vicious circle that no-one has yet considered!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

What have corrupt USA Admirals have in common with the mayhem caused by the pharmaceutical industry

This morning, amidst all the trifling news of political scandal being reported in the mainstream media, I turned over to RT (Russia Today) news. They were dealing with the 'Fat Leonard' corruption scandal. I was amazed as this was not a new story but something that has been going on for months. Why did I now know about it? But then, I thought, why do 99% of people not know about the ongoing corruption associated with the pharmaceutical industry? It is censored news which is not reported in our 'free' news media. What we are allowed to know depends on what the Establishment wants us to know.

I searched the internet in order to find out who was reporting the story. "USA", "Admirals" produced an article from RT, and little else. I noted that the scandal was called the "Fat Leonard" scandal, so another search. To my surprise, Wikipedia had a page, and apparently the scandal dates back to 2010. It said that the Washington Post called the scandal "perhaps the worst national-security breach of its kind to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War." This referred to an article published in 2016, "The man who seduced the 7th fleet". The search showed that in the UK the Daily Mail had reported on the scandal recently, and the Guardian some months ago. But most information available came from non-mainstream news websites.

As Wikipedia outlines, at the heart of the scandal was Leonard Glenn Francis, known as "Fat Leonard" for his 350-pound weight. Apparently he had provided thousands of dollars in cash, travel expenses, luxury items, and prostitutes to a large number of US uniformed officers. In return they gave him classified material about the movements of US ships and submarines, confidential contracting information, and information about active law enforcement investigations his company. The, Francis "exploited the intelligence for illicit profit, brazenly ordering his moles to redirect aircraft carriers to ports he controlled in Southeast Asia so he could more easily bilk the Navy for fuel, tugboats, barges, food, water and sewage removal." Wikipedia stated that in 2013, 31 people have been criminally charged in connection with the Fat Leonard. The RT feature today declared that the scandal now involved 60 admirals, and hundreds of officers within the US Seventh Fleet.

Is this not a news story that deserves more public attention and examination - the most powerful navy in the world caught up in bribery and corruption at the highest levels? Perhaps I should have known about it, but then, ask the next 100 people you meet what they know about it, and find out how many of them are aware of the story!

At the same time, ask them whether they know about the harm pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines cause to millions of patients every year, and discover how many people know about this.

The fact is that our mainstream news media does not tell us the truth. At least, it does not tell us the whole truth! We may believe (because we have always been told) that our press and news media are 'free', and can investigate and report on any matter of public importance. This is part of our democracy, an integral part of our personal freedoms. It takes governments to task. It exposes crime and corruption wherever it happens. And so on......

But of course, it does no such thing, and certainly not all of it. We can all recognise, and can look back at news reporting in time of war (WW1, WW2, Vietnam, et al) when the full enormity of the death and destruction occurring were intentionally kept from the public. It would not have been in the public interest for us to know at the time, we are told. But this does not happen in peacetime.

Yet it does. As far as the 'Fat Leonard' scandal is concerned it is not in the wider public interest for us to be too aware of the corruption that exists within powerful military forces, which are protecting the free world! If we knew this, to the full extent that it exists, would have dreadful implications for our government! So people in the corridors of power mingle with people in the corridors of information to determine what we are allowed to know, and how much we are allowed to know.

Similarly, with the Pharmaceutical industry. The public should not be told about the harm and disease caused by drugs and vaccines because it is these things that keep us healthy. For instance, if we all knew that childhood vaccines have been instrumental in causing the Autism epidemic over recent decades people would refuse to vaccinate their children. This would have dreadful consequences for the main funder of mainstream news organisations. So people in the corridors of the drugs industry mingle with people in the corridors of information to determine what we are allowed to know, and how much we are allowed to know.

This is how important news, across the entire spectrum, is censored. There is news that is too sensitive, has too many implications, for the Establishment to want to divulge. Although individuals wrong-doing can be investigated and pursued (they are just bad, corrupt people with evil intentions), pursuing rich and influential institutions is much more difficult. They are vital components to our life, and our society. Or so they believe!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

MIMS. Can doctors advise us about the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs that are not yet known?

MIMS is one of the 'bibles' used by conventional doctors. They rely on it for advice about the dangers of the pharmaceutical drugs they prescribe. I receive their regular (monthly?) updates, and a few days ago they published a bulletin that came up with an enormous amount of new advice. This is just one update for doctors. I have copied the new advice below, but let me first ask several questions.
  1. Conventional medicine routinely peddles dangerous drugs, but this regular change of advice suggests that it does not know exactly what the dangers are! So does conventional medicine really know just how dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines are?
  2. And how do doctor's retain all this information. Remember this is just one month's new or revised guidance on the drugs mentioned. So can patients be sure that their doctor can retain and recall all this information when they are prescribing pharmaceutical drugs?
So this is the new advice. Don't worry if you do not understand exactly what this means - the point is that these drugs have been prescribed to patients for years, during which time these warnings were not known about.

     Adjust gabapentin dose to avoid respiratory depression, MHRA advises
Prescribers may need to adjust the dose of gabapentin in patients at risk of respiratory depression, including those taking CNS depressants and elderly people.

     Cows' milk allergy warning over methylprednisolone use
Lactose-containing methylprednisolone preparations should not be used in patients with cows' milk allergy, the MHRA has advised prescribers.

     Risk of serious skin reactions with anaemia drugs
Severe cutaneous adverse reactions can occur in patients treated with erythropoietins, the manufacturers have warned in a letter to healthcare professionals.

     Clozapine prescribers reminded of intestinal obstruction risk
Clozapine can impair intestinal peristalsis, leading in very rare cases to potentially fatal intestinal obstruction, faecal impaction, and paralytic ileus.

     Advise women to take combined contraceptive pills continuously, says family planning expert
The 21/7 contraceptive pill regimen is 'outdated' and taking combined oral contraceptives without a 7-day break is the '21st century way to take the pill', according to Professor John Guillebaud.

So perhaps patients should routinely ask their doctors to be ENTIRELY sure that they know about ALL the contraindications and side effects of the drugs they want US to take, and that they also know about all the new contraindications and side effects that MIMS will announce next month, the month after, and the years to come. Impossible, of course.

YET WITHOUT THAT ASSURANCE WE CANNOT BE ENTIRELY CONFIDENT THAT THE PHARMACEUTICAL DRUGS OR VACCINES OUR DOCTORS PRESCRIBE FOR US ARE SAFE, OR EFFECTIVE!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

An Alternative NHS?

The NHS wants to stop patient access to homeopathy. They initiated a consultation exercise asking our opinion, part of a 'saving money' initiative. I blogged about this in July, 'Banning Homeopathy on the NHS'. Following the Department of Health's response to a petition opposing this, I wrote another blog, 'Homeopathy, the NHS, and Patient Choice'. Given the vested interests that control the NHS, both asked whether homeopathy should want to be, or continue to be part of the NHS. I also raised the question, almost rhetorically, whether it would not be better to establish an 'alternative' NHS that offered patients a variety of traditional therapies. In this blog, I want to develop that idea.

My blogs, so far, have focused on the negative aspects of the current situation. The NHS is now completely hostile to alternative medical therapies, especially homeopathy. The NHS is now completely controlled by the conventional medical establishment, which is itself is completely controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. This is making it almost impossible to debate health issues with these powerful vested interests as they just repeat their mantras, 'there is no evidence that homeopathy works'.

At the same time the government says that it supports 'patient choice', that there should be within the NHS 'no decision about me without me'. Yet whilst this might be their policy, their actions say otherwise. They are intent on restricting and denying patient choice, not developing it.

As I predicted, the homeopathic community is going to fight this, and I am aware of its plans to do so. Indeed, they may be quite right to respond to yet another attack on health freedom. My question is, should we bother? Should we, instead, set up some kind of 'alternative NHS' that provides patients with real patient choice?

The case for doing so is a strong one, but it is one that will require considerable work and effort to establish - and it is something we should seek to do alongside our colleagues from other alternative medical therapies, who suffer equal neglect and marginalisation.

1. A Declaration of Independence.
Homeopathy is different to conventional medicine. In most crucial respects it is superior. It is more effective. It is safer. It is less expensive. It is inferior only in one important respect. It is not organised, it has no structure. Patients, even those who know that we exist, don't know what we do, or even how how to find us in their locality.

The conventional medical establishment clearly does not want us. We are a threat to their virtual monopoly within the NHS. They are trying to get rid of us. We are not welcome. And most people, most organisations, do not thrive within hostile environments. Homeopathy is no different. So leaving the NHS, voluntarily, would be like declaring our independence. It would be liberating, invigorating.

2. A Declaration of Disassociation
NHS medicine, dominated as it is by pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, is failing, fast. Conventional medicine is failing for many reasons. Its drugs and vaccines do not work, they are not effective in treating the epidemics of chronic disease that are creating demands the NHS cannot cope with. Worse, it is the side effect and adverse reactions of pharmaceutical drugs are causing these illness and disease epidemics.

The result is that the NHS is virtually bankrupt. It cannot recruit sufficient staff to meet the ever-increasing demand for health care, the epidemic levels of chronic illness, which, in significant part, have been caused by dangerous drugs and vaccines. It is difficult to get a doctor's appointment, and the NHS is finding it difficult to recruit more doctors. Waiting lists for treatments and operations are growing. Accident and Emergency services throughout the country are at breaking point.

Does homeopathy want to be part of this failure? The NHS does not use homeopathy to any significant degree, so there is little that the homeopathic community is going to lose. Homeopathy has survived throughout the world for over 220 years, and it has done so without the support of national health service schemes.

3. A Declaration for Safe Medicine
Conventional medicine harms patients. Iatrogenic (doctor-induced) disease is rife. In the past many pharmaceutical drugs have been either banned or withdrawn. Today, the drugs and vaccines doctors are using are heavily restricted because of the patient harm they are known to cause. Medical science and the drug regulatory process has completely failed to protect patients from iatrogenic harm.

Homeopathy is safe medicine. Why should it want to be associated with a medical system that has caused illness and disease through its side effects, killed millions, and continues to do so every year. Homeopathy can, and probably should stand on its own, and declare that it is different. Why do we need to work with medics who tell us that any medicine or treatment, to be useful, has to be harmful?

4. A Declaration in favour of Effective Medicine
Homeopaths often say that we treat people who are ill, not illness itself. Whilst this is true, we rarely sit back and think about how different we are. For instance, we don't want patients to tell us they have arthritis, we want to know when that arthritis is worse, and when better; whether it is better or worse for exercise; and a whole host of other individual symptoms. Homeopaths don't believe that illness is caused by bacteria and viruses, just why we have become susceptible to them. We don't believe that we have an ability to prevent and cure human illness and disease, but we do know that we have knowledge of, and access to remedies that will help the body heal itself.

Homeopathy is effective medicine because it understands what causes illness that relates to the real, observable world. And through our Materia Medica (knowledge of what symptoms remedies will treat), and over two centuries of clinical experience, we know that they work. And we know that they work because we see them working. We do not create illness and disease with our remedies, we treat them successfully, we cure them. Why do we think that we need to work with a medical system that has overseen such a prodigious increase in illness and disease?

5. A Declaration of Our Existence!
So where on earth are we? Do we exist within the NHS? Only a handful of doctor-homeopaths operate from there. Most homeopaths work independently, in their local communities. So how do we operate within these communities. Do homeopaths have high visibility? Can anyone living there find us easily?

The fact is that homeopathy has never been well organised. At best, we are a collection of well-intentioned individuals, working alone, in isolation, relying on the successful treatment of patients to get us more widely known. This can work well. But it cannot be called 'organisation'. And if homeopathy does decide it has had enough of the NHS, its myopia and its hostility, we will need to organise. We will have to declare that we are here, we do exist. How do we do this?

The Need for an Alternative NHS
Homeopathy needs an organisation within which to base our practice. It should not be an organisation that restricts how homeopathy practices, what we can and cannot do. Homeopaths are healers, and we all have their own ways of operating. Homeopaths do not need an organisation that restricts us - but our patients need an organisation that makes us visible!.

If someone becomes sick, what do they do? They do what is easiest, closest to hand. They contact NHS Choices, or go to their GP surgery, or to the local hospital. They do so because that is how conventional medicine has organised. If patients want to use homeopath what do they do? Are we in Yellow Pages? Are we on the internet? Perhaps the surgery, or the local pharmacy, or our hospital will know. Or perhaps not!

And how much does homeopathy cost? NHS treatment is free. It may not work, it may not be safe - but it IS free! This is the big argument about staying within the NHS. Poorer people, entitled to free NHS treatment, are unlikely to opt to pay for homeopathy. Yet this argument fails in two ways.

  • It ignores the important fact that most people, in most parts of the country, are already denied access to homeopathy. 
  • And it ignores the fact that homeopathy has failed to organise, to work within an organisation that people know about, and can find easily, that offers homeopathy at that stressful time when illness strikes.

Other Alternative Therapies
I am a homeopath, and I have focused on homeopathy. There are many other alternative practitioners, and they all have the same problem. They are all excluded from the NHS, and the conventional medical establishment is hostile to them. So similar things can be said about their current organisation, or the lack of it. No-one knows for certain what they do, or for whom, where they can be found, and how much it will cost.

There is every reason for alternative medical therapies to join together in such an enterprise.

Each therapy has similar problems. Each therapy seeks to cure patients without the need for pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. Each therapy provides a safer, gentler, more effective medical discipline that relies on helping the body heal itself. So why not join together. It makes imminent sense.

So how can alternative medicine organise itself. What would such an organisation look like? How would practitoners relate to it? How will patients find it? And how will treatment be funded?

An Alternative Health Service (AHS)
The organisation will need a name, and a logo that people will be easily recognised. For the sake of simplicity, lets call it AHS - the Alternative Health Service. The first objective should for AHS to develop, gradually, over time, a presence in every community Many communities already have independent health centres devoted to alternative medical therapies. These could all be invited to work under the auspices of the AHS, completely independently.

      1. Practitioners
Qualified and registered health practitioners, whether they be homeopaths, osteopaths, acupuncturists, herbalists, naturopaths, reflexologists, would sign up to the aims and objective or the AHS - which would be simply to offer their services to patients who are searching for safe and effective medical treatment. When they treat patients the AHS will pay their fee.

     2. Patients
The AHS would be largely funded by patients. There is no alternative to this when our government is totally, myopically committed to an ineffective and unsafe medical system based on pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, and whilst it remains so hostile to alternative medical therapies.

  • Patients would pay a small monthly fee to enable them to access the treatment of an AHS practitioner.
  • Patients who are unable to pay the monthly fee could apply to AHS for emergency funding.
  • Every patient who undergoes a course of treatment will be asked to provide information about their treatment, and the outcomes of that treatment.

     3. Local Health Centres
These may be existing health centres, who affiliate to AHS, or new ones. Alternative therapists may practice from the premises, or they might prefer to practice elsewhere.

Each centre would identify and approve therapists, seeking to ensure that they have access to therapists from the complete range of therapeutic disciplines.

The centres would be a drop-in point for local patients, where they can seek information and advice, book appointments with therapists, and sign up to the AHS scheme.

In addition, each centre would liaise with local GP surgeries and hospitals. They would pass on information about the functioning of the centre, and how doctors can make referrals to them. When the surgery makes a referral, they would be charged the full cost of an initial period of treatment, plus an administration fee.

     4. The AHS
The central AHS organisation would oversee all this operation, setting guidelines and standards for both affiliated health centres, and therapists, without seeking to restrict or control their practice.

     * AHS would identify existing, and establish new health centres. It would develop simple and unobtrusive guidelines for the operation of each of the centres.

     * AHS would approve therapists submitted by each of these centres.

     * AHS would register patients, and receive their monthly payments. It would pay therapists for the work they do with registered patients.

     * AHS would also seek patrons, people who support the concept, principles and work of the AHS, and who are able to make donations towards its work, and help to subsidise emergency or urgent treatment.

     * AHS would manage a scheme to fund emergency or urgent treatment for patients who cannot afford to pay the monthly fee.

     * AHS would also keep a database of treatment outcomes from Health Centres, and publish these on a regular basis.

     5. The Fee Structure
The AHS should be run by people who are well versed with alternative medical therapies, and can operate the system without encroaching on freedom of therapists to practice. However, as this is essentially a health insurance scheme, it would be important that an insurance company ran this particular aspect of the business.

  • Patients would pay their monthly fee to the AHS, or the insurance agent.
  • The AHS, or the insurance agent, would pay the local health centre who generated the business.
  • The local health centre would pay the therapist for their work undertaken.

Prospects?
No business works unless there is a demand, and there is undoubtedly a demand for safe and effective  medical treatment. At the moment no alternative therapy is organised to systematically tap into this demand.

The proposed AHS would have to be sympathetically led by entrepreneurial business people who were tuned in to the principles and ideals of all the medical therapies they promote.

The proposed AHS would have to be efficiently managed by people who understand the principles and operations of health insurance, and were able to make it an affordable option for most people and their families.

The proposed AHS, along with local health centres, would have to promote alternative therapists efficiently.

If all this were done demand for alternative medicine would quickly increase, and initially AHS might struggle to meet patient demand, particularly in areas where there has been little previous development or promotion of alternative medicine.

Beyond this, the venture will succeed in line with the success of the treatment.

  • Curing a patient will increase demand on a 'word of mouth' basis, as it has always done for alternative medical therapies. 
  • Demand will increase with the ongoing failure of the NHS, its failure to meet demand, its inability to offer timely appointments with doctors.
  • Most important, demand will increase when the outcome surveys mentioned above show that alternative medicine is more effective in the treatment of illness.
If this happened, the government and the department of health would find themselves in some difficulty. They would be funding an NHS, who were offering a medicine, that people no longer wanted. Patients would vote with their feet! 
  • Patients are voters. 
  • Voters influence the result of elections. 
  • Elections determine who our politicians are. 
  • Politicians, to be elected, will want to give people what they want.
  • Politicians determine governments.
  • Governments run the Department of Health.
  • The Department of Health controls the health budget.
Soon, the department would be trying to work out why doctors are under-occupied in their surgeries, why Accident and Emergency departments are no longer struggling to cope, and start asking about all these AHS Health Centres, and why they are so popular. Shortly afterwards, the department would be running down their support for the failing, or failed NHS, and asking the AHS whether it needed any of the spare cash it had because the NHS no longer had many patients.

Could any of this be achieved if homeopathy remains content to be an unwanted, irritating, and insignificant part of the NHS?




Friday, 13 October 2017

Antibiotic Apocalypse. Conventional Medicine needs Homeopathy

Professor Dame Sally Davis hates homeopathy, and she is NHS England's chief medical officer in the Department of Health. This is certainly not unusual, but it is a misfortunate - for her, her department, the NHS, and every patient who relies on pharmaceutical drugs for their health care.

Professor Dame Sally Davis has been talking about antibiotics again, and she is concerned. Antibiotics 'may be lost', she says, through overuse, and she is urging global leaders to tackle the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. She is giving this message to a meeting in Berlin of health officials from around the world. It is, she says, a "call to action" to tackle the problem.

This is not a new warning, medical experts have told us that conventional medicine's 'wonder' drug is being used too much, and that 25,000 people die across Europe each year because of drug-resistant infections. This morning, Professor Dame Sally Davies said that she was "really worried" that without effective antibiotic drugs, common medical procedures such as caesarean sections, cancer treatments and limb replacements could become too risky.

Professor Dame Sally Davis is right of course, and I have blogged about the problems of antibacterial resistance several times.

               In June 2015, I first heard her use the term 'antibiotic apocalypse', and wrote "Antibiotic Apocalypse. The BBC fails again to address the issue", suggesting that whilst she was right, the BBC (and the mainstream media) were asking her the wrong questions. Today, she has repeated the message, and the BBC asked the same questions.

               Later that year, in November 2015, I wrote another blog, when it was suggested I was discounting the serious situation we would be in if Antibiotic drugs failed. This was entitled "Antibiotic resistance. A problem only for conventional medicine?" Antibiotic was not a problem for homeopathy, or anyone who relies on homeopathic treatment. in the treatment of infectious illnesses.

               In May 2016, I blogged about "The Failure of Antibiotic Drugs" in which I outlined the harm that antibiotic drugs caused to patients, something never admitted by Professor Dame Sally Davis, or by conventional doctors throughout the world.

However, this morning I took particular note about her comments that antibiotic failure would jeopardise the future of certain surgical operations. Professor Dame Sally Davis is correct, of course. I could point out that many of these operations might be entirely unnecessary if the NHS embraced homeopathy, and other alternative therapies, as they would be more successful in preventing the need for many such operations, rather than pharmaceutical drugs which are often the reason they become  necesssary! But on this occasion let's focus on another issue.

How can alternative medicine help with surgery - notably the pain, and the danger of infection, created by operations? How can Acupuncture help with the pain? How can Homeopathy help with the infections?

I wondered whether Professor Dame Sally Davis had looked into this possibility, and set up meetings with their professional bodies. Probably not, as she hates homeopathy! Unfortunate. So what has happened during the two-and-a-half years since she last used the term 'Antibiotic Apocalypse'? From what she said this morning, not a lot, except that doctors were now prescribing 4.3% fewer antibiotics. Is this enough? No, she said. Apart from that, Professor Dame Sally Davis said she has been urging drug companies to come up with new antibiotics. Why are they not doing so? There is insufficient profit in it for them, not least because doctors were being urged to use less of them. The drug companies, of course, want them to use more of them!

Indeed, far from seeking to resolve an 'apocalyptic' problem by working co-operatively with alternative therapies, the department she advices is now seeking to ban the use of homeopathy within the NHS. The drowning woman, it would seem, has cut the cord to one ship that might just save her, and the conventional medical establishment, from a severe embarrassment. Perhaps Professor Dame Sally Davis saw that the ship was crewed by homeopaths, acupuncturists, and other therapists she despises so much.

Well, there are still lots of good homeopaths around who have been treating infectious diseases, safely and effectively, without antibiotics for decades. I am sure that they would not withdraw the offer of help, I don't suppose any of them will pull in the cord away whilst she splashes around in the water, with no-where to go but the direction in which conventional medicine is heading - downwards.

However, I am more concerned with patients, especially if they are getting fearful. To them I say, at the same time, that homeopaths and other alternative therapists, will be there for them too, to treat their infectious disease. And I repeat the message - antimicrobial resistance is not a problem for homeopathy But we have no surgeons, and if surgeons need help, they will need to talk to us, as soon as possible, because the crisis hits.



Homeopathy, the NHS, and Patient Choice

The conventional medical establishment is moving to ban all homeopathy from the NHS in England. They are doing so NOT because homeopathy is a danger to patients, like pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines; NOT because homeopathy cannot make patients better; NOT because patients do not want to use homeopathy for their illnesses. It is doing so purely and simply because the NHS, and the conventional medical establishment that controls it, has been captured by the pharmaceutical industry. They want to kill patient choice and health freedom.

To allow homeopathy on the NHS could lead to comparisons which conventional medicine has always found awkward. Why don't their drug treatments work? Why is the NHS in constant crisis? Why do homeopathic 'sugar pills' have such a wonderful effect? Why do patients continue to see homeopaths when they have to pay for the treatment?

It's not that homeopathy costs much, or that the NHS spends a lot of money on homeopathy. In a previous blog, Banning Homeopathy on the NHS, I calculated that homeopathy constituted just 0.001257% of the total NHS drugs budget.

This blog, written on 24th July 2017, outlined what the NHS were doing. It mentioned a petition to the government in support of homeopathy. In the blog I questioned whether homeopathy needed a place within the NHS. After all, it is not where most homeopathy is practiced in Britain. But the petition to government was well supported, and now the Department of Health has responded to it. I am reproducing that response here, commenting on what it says, and the government's position.

               "It is for local NHS organisations to decide on the commissioning and funding of these healthcare treatments. NHS England’s consultation on low value prescription items includes homeopathic treatments."

It would seem that Pontius Pilate rules within the Department of Health! It's nothing to do with us, guv'! We wash our hands of the whole thing! But can they do this without abandoning a key element of the government's policy on health? Read on.....

               "Information from NHS England (NHSE) shows that in 2015, the cost for all prescriptions dispensed in primary care, not including any dispensing costs or fees, was £9.27 billion, a 4.7% increase on the previous year. Due to the increasing cost, NHSE is leading a review of medicines which can be considered as being of low clinical value and develop new guidance for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). "

Yes, yes. The pharmaceutical drugs bill IS enormous, and the government does need to control it. But that has nothing to do with homeopathy, and the 0.001257% of that budget spent on homeopathy will not have gone up!

               "On 21 July, NHSE launched a three month consultation on the draft guidance on low value prescription items which is based on the latest clinical evidence, including that from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Careful consideration has been given to ensure that particular groups of people are not disproportionately affected, and that principles of best practice on clinical prescribing are adhered to." 

The NHS regularly conducts these 'consultation' exercises when they are proposing to close down homeopathic treatment within the NHS. They did one prior to closing the homeopathy hospital in Lothian in 2014. A large number of patients, and former patients, spoke highly of the facility, and wanted it to continue. But NHS consultation is not about patients, it is about the vested interests of the conventional medical establishment, and their masters, the pharmaceutical industry! It was closed.

               "The commissioning guidance, upon which NHSE is consulting, will be addressed to CCGs to support them to fulfil their duties around the appropriate use of prescribing resources. This will need to be taken into account by CCGs in adopting or amending their own local guidance to their clinicians in primary care."

Most CCG's (Clinical Commissioning Groups) do not spend money on homeopathy, they have long since 'banned' it from the services they offer to patients in their area. This consultation is about preventing the remaining few CCG's from spending money on homeopathy.

               "The aim of this consultation is to provide individuals with information about the proposed national guidance and to seek people’s views about the proposals. NHSE welcomes the views of the public, patients, clinicians, commissioners and providers through this consultation process to help inform the final guidance. The consultation ends on 21 October. Links to the consultation can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2017/07/medicine-consultation/ and 
https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/items-routinely-prescribed/

I am delighted that the Department of Health welcomes people's views! It is a question about whether minority views will be listened to, or whether instead the NHS will go further down the road of mono-medicine, that is, a 'one size fits all' health service, on the basis that if pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines are good enough for most people, they are good enough for everyone.

               "It is the responsibility of local NHS organisations to make decisions on the commissioning and funding of any healthcare treatments for NHS patients, such as homeopathy, taking account of issues to do with safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness and the availability of suitably qualified and regulated practitioners. "

Okay, well homeopathy complies with all that.

  • Homeopathy is safe (indeed, it is demonstrably safer than the conventional treatments that currently dominate the NHS). 
  • Homeopathy has been part of part of the clinical practice of the NHS since 1948, and to my knowledge its clinical practice has never been brought into question.
  • Homeopathy is cost-effective, consisting of a modest consultation fee, and the modest cost of homeopathic remedies.
  • Homeopaths, suitably qualified and regulated, are available throughout England, and the rest of the country (see the 'Find A Homeopath' website).

               "Complementary and alternative medicine (CAMs) treatments can, in principle, feature in a range of services offered by local NHS organisations. A treating clinician would take into account an individual’s circumstances and medical history in deciding what would be the most appropriate treatment for their condition. CCGs will have specific policies on the commissioning and funding of CAMs, and may have also developed local policies on priorities with regards to the funding of treatments. A GP would have to work within such policies in providing any treatments on the NHS."

Now, this is where government policy comes in, something that this Department of Health response seems to totally ignore. Note in the above response that treatments available to the patient are to be determined by the 'treating physician, who will decide "what would be the most appropriate treatment for their condition". Then cast you mind back to 2010, and the new government's White Paper. It made an important policy decision, easily reproduced here.

"No decision about me without me" 

Just a few simple words, but with massive meaning. They do NOT mean that the 'treating physician' will decide on 'the most appropriate treatment'. It puts the patient at the centre of treatment decisions. And many patients, including myself, will always choose homeopathic treatment rather than the pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines routinely handed out by the 'treating physicians' of the NHS.

So the government, and the Department of Health in particular, needs to decide what it's policy is, and if it seeks to place the patient at the centre of decision-making, central government cannot wash its hands of decisions that will only reduce and restrict patient choice. Not, at least, without admitting that it no longer believes in patient choice; or without making 'patient choice' part of the 'proposed national guidelines' which will inform CCG's in coming to their decision.

               "The Department of Health supports an approach to evidence-based prescribing which does not support the commissioning of services which are not clinically and cost effective. We are not aware of any evidence that demonstrates the therapeutic effectiveness of homeopathic products. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not currently recommend that homeopathy should be used in the treatment of any health condition, whilst primary care prescribing data shows that there has been a significant decline in the prescribing of homeopathic products over the last 10 years. Furthermore, a good number of NHS organisations are reviewing their funding of homeopathic treatments and some have already stopped funding such treatment altogether.

Here, at last, is the real position of the Department of Health.

Yet, look closely at all these people and organisations brought in by the Department of Health to decide what patients can, and cannot have in terms of medical treatment within the NHS.

  • the treating physician
  • CCG's
  • the evidence base of medical science
  • NICE

So is the patient in this brave new world of NHS reform? Are we moving, ever closer, towards "No decision about me without me"? Or is patient choice dead? Is the concept of health freedom something quite foreign to the Department of Health?

This response only reinforces my belief that patients are going to need an alternative health service, one that is populated by homeopaths, naturopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists, reflexologists, and other alternative therapists, one that is quite separate and distinct from the NHS. Why?

Conventional medicine is failing - fast. Doctors can no longer prescribe painkillers safely. There is an 'Antibiotic Apocalypse' on the way, according to the Chief Medical Officer. Benzodiazepine drugs are an ongoing disaster. Antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs are no better. So many pharmaceutical drugs are on the way to being withdrawn and no new drugs are coming through the pharmaceutical pipeline. The NHS is in constant crisis. It cannot recruit enough doctors, who cannot afford to pay their indemnity insurance for the damage their treatments cause to patients. And, on the other side, an ever-increasing number of patients are realising that the drugs and vaccines the NHS are handing out are harmful - patients are becoming resistant to them, and this will only get worse.

So let the NHS go. Let conventional medicine monopolise it, and allow it to fail alongside the pharmaceutical drugs industry. This particular patient may shed a quiet tear, the end of a socialist dream, making the best medicine freely available to all. But the NHS is no longer about patients, or patient choice, or health freedom, the things I care about. It operates for the drug companies that control it. So good riddance, and long live the medical therapies of the future.