Health written question – answered on 21st March 2007.

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Photo of Richard Ottaway Richard Ottaway Conservative, Croydon South

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent guidance she has issued to primary care trusts on provision of the option of access to homeopathy care and treatment in the NHS; and what research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the use of homeopathic treatment to control rheumatoid arthritis.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

The Government consider that decision-making on individual clinical interventions, whether conventional or complementary/alternative treatments, have to be a matter for local national health service providers and practitioners as they are best placed to know their community's needs. In making such decisions, they have to take into account evidence for the safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness of any treatments, the availability of suitably qualified practitioners, and the needs of the individual patient. Clinical responsibility rests with the NHS professional who makes the decision to refer and who must therefore be able to justify any treatment they recommend. If they are unconvinced about the suitability of a particular treatment, they cannot be made to refer.

To support policy and the delivery of effective practice in the NHS, research is commissioned through a number of national programmes that are open to everyone and priorities are set through widespread consultation.

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