Scottish Executive Question Time — Health and Wellbeing – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 2nd December 2010.

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Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour 2:15 pm, 2nd December 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it considers that homoeopathy has a role to play in health care. (S3O-12177)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government recognises that complementary or alternative therapies, including homeopathy, may offer relief to some people suffering from a wide variety of conditions. It is, however, a matter for national health service boards in Scotland to make such services available on the basis of an assessment of needs within their respective areas. The treatment of individual patients is always a matter of professional judgement.

Photo of Rhona Brankin Rhona Brankin Labour

The cabinet secretary will know that NHS Lothian is planning to close the general practitioner-run homeopathy clinic in Dalkeith, in the face of huge opposition. Can she confirm that her department is developing an integrative care strategy that is being headed up by Dr David Reilly, one of Scotland's leading homeopathic practitioners? Does she agree that it would be inappropriate for NHS Lothian to cut homeopathic services, which are so important for many patients, especially those with long-term conditions, at the same time as the Scottish Government is developing a national integrative care strategy?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I am sure that Rhona Brankin would want the Parliament to have the full information about the case, so it is important to stress that NHS Lothian has taken no decision about the Midlothian community health partnership's proposal concerning the Dalkeith health centre.

The proposal is still subject to consultation, and the outcome of the on-going discussions will be reported to the community health partnership subcommittee at its next meeting in January. I encourage Rhona Brankin, as the local member who has, rightly, raised this issue, to engage with that consultation, as I am sure that she is doing, to ensure that her views and those of her constituents are heard.

On the wider issue, I repeat what I said in my initial answer. We recognise that, in some circumstances and in relation to some conditions, complementary or alternative medicines and therapies can have a role to play. However, decisions about the provision or otherwise of those services in particular areas are, rightly, for local health boards. That is why I have stressed that Rhona Brankin should continue to discuss the matter with NHS Lothian.