Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Registration Society of Homoeopathy, UK

This organisation was overlooked in a previous post. Rather than update that post, the organisation's website will be considered in more detail, highlighting breaches of both UK and Indian regulations and legislation. It is worth noting that this organisation will be the subject of complaints to various bodies. This post will also make mention of links to other businesses.

It is worth noting that all the information here is in the (very) public domain. 

What is the Registration Society of Homoeopathy, UK
The Registration Society of Homoeopathy, UK (RSHUK) claims to be -
Registration Society of Homeopathy, UK (RSH UK), is a registered, international organization for accreditation of homeopathic professionals. The society represents as a professional and ethical body to recognize and regulate the professional standards of its members by virtue of membership/fellowship and continued medical education. The professional and fellow members undergo examination before awarding the society membership. This enables a competitive and learning environment which helps practitioners gain an edge for their clinical expertise and homeopathic knowledge.
Which doesn't say a lot. 


Who are the Registration Society of Homoeopathy, UK
One of the first places to look to determine who is behind an organisation is Companies House. RSHUK is a limited company and details and filed documents can be found here. Most importantly, it gives the list of directors.
  • Harjit Singh Sidhu - UK resident, no obvious online profile, director of at least two other companies. Former Director of of the Homeopathic Medical Association.
  • Dr Saurav Arora - who is resident in India. Mr Arora has a profile here.
  • Dr Satinder Pal Singh Bakshi - again resident in India. Mr Bakshi has a profile here.
  • Dr Sandeep Paila - India resident, profile here
  • Harsharan Kaur Sidhu - UK resident, no obvious online profile but director of at least 10 other companies. Member of the Council of the HMA. Director of HMA.
Additionally, the "faculty" listing includes -
  • Dr Isabelle Grafin Grote - UK resident, profile here. Would appear to be a naturopath - not GMC registered.
  • Dr Jagjit Ram - UK resident, several directorships. Member of HMA. Former Director of HMA. No obvious online profile.
  • Barbara Sharma - UK resident, possibly this person.
  • Dr Mridul Kumar Sahani - India resident
  • Phil Hughes - UK resident. Member of Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (ARH). Best known for this and this .
  • Hafeez Bhatti - unknown status.
  • Dr Ileana Rindasu - Romania resident. Medical doctor
  • Dr Vasilka Yurukova - Bulgaria resident. Medical doctor. Profile here.
  • Dr Kamal Puri - India resident. No obvious online profile.
  • Dr Surjit Singh Makkar - India resident. Qualified vet. Profile here.
  • Dr Anwar Amir Ansari - India resident. Profile here.
  • Dr Leoni Bonamin - Brazil resident. Qualified vet. No useful online profile.
  • Dr Geeta Rani Arora - India resident. Profile here.
The http://rshuk.com/ domain would appear to have been registered by Saurav Arora.

What do they actually do?
Their purpose is not terribly clear. Their objectives state -

  • To recognize and regulate the professional standards of members by virtue of membership/fellowship: MRSH & FRSH UK respectively.
  • To recognize educational institutions of Homoeopathy located in United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
  • To promote and support facilities for the education of persons desirous of learning homoeopathy and biochemic system of medicine in United Kingdom.
  • To organize seminars & conferences nationally & internationally, for supporting the dissemination of authentic homoeopathic practices worldwide.
  • To establish a Code of Ethics to maintain high professional standards of practice amongst qualified homoeopathic practitioners (See Code of Ethics).
  • To facilitate the exchange of homoeopathic knowledge in the form of International clinical exposure worldwide.
  • To publish an international directory of qualified practitioners of homoeopathy registered with RSH UK.
  • To provide free homoeopathic consultation; to establish charitable clinics and arrange free camps for the needy.
  • To increase public awareness and acceptance of homoeopathy internationally as a safe and effective system of medicine.
So, except for providing free homeopathic consultation, not that different from UK homeopathic trade associations?

Joining the RSHUK is somewhat different to other trade associations. Rather than being accepted purely on the basis on qualifications gained from an "approved" institution (or a cumbersome individual assessment process), RSHUK also requires an online exam. It could be the case that the exam is skewed towards Indian homeopaths, which might make it difficult for UK lay homeopaths to pass. Also, note that taking the fee for the examination is non-refundable. RSHUK talks about -
Eligibility: Candidates applying for the MRSH must have a Diploma or Degree from a recognized school/university/college of homeopathy. In addition, experienced homeopaths who previously had Diploma in homeopathy, and are in regular homeopathic practice for at least 5 years may be accepted for the membership by submitting curriculum vitae, letters of reference and a compilation of 5 case studies. If the basic requirements are met, a written(online) exam/interview will be conducted for granting membership. Applicants need to show competence in written and spoken English and use of computers. C.V., evidence/copies of valid certificates must be appended with the application.
Um. Recognised by who? Also, it appears that the website wants payment for the exam before any checking takes place and sneakily charges a 4% processing fee. 

The fees for membership are for five years. They are not refundable under any circumstances. This is unusual in that other trade associations have annual fees. One problem with this is that the RSHUK may go out of business. Some of the people associated with RSHUK have a history of involvement with failed companies - as will be discussed later. 

There is talk in the terms of use of some sort of "course" -
Cancellations & ReturnsThe membership fee in NOT REFUNDABLE under any circumstance. However, course fee may be refunded as per details below:
Within one month of registration to course: Full amount, subjected to deduction of 5% (Administrative Fee)
Within three months of registration to course: 50% of the total amount
Beyond three months: NO REFUND
But RSHUK do not seem to offer a course. Webinars? Yes but is unclear whether there are any Seminars and conferences? Well, there don't seem to be any scheduled.

RSHUK say that they offer an insurance scheme via Balens. It is not necessary to join a trade body to get insurance but it can result in a discount although that is likely to be more than offset by the cost of being a member of the trade body. Interestingly, RSHUK does not insist on insurance, merely stating that is the responsibility of the member to be insured.

What the RSHUK seems to offer that is unusual are internships.
For full members, we provide a clinical Internship of 3 weeks at following locations*Homeopathy Health Clinic, Hounslow, London, England.Bakson Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Greater Noida, UP, India.
The aim of this clinical internship is to provide a clinical exposure to our members at International level. The internship and accommodation shall be provided for free, but a member has to bear the travel and visa formalities on his/her own.
The Homeopathy Health Clinic will be discussed later. Visa formalities may be a problem. For those wanting to do the UK internship, this represents no problem to European Economic Area (EEA) citizens but does for those outside. A Tier 5 visa would be required and may not be permitted. Coming in on a tourist visa would risk deportation. India visa requirements for interns are unclear to say the least.

Problems
Apart from misleading claims in the website, the main problem is that Indian homeopaths registered with the Central Council for Homoeopathy (CCH) would potentially be in breach of the Code of Ethics which forbids professional association with non-registered homeopaths. It is unclear whether the CCH would regard online activities as ultra vires but offering internships in India is a completely different matter.

The RSHUK Code of Ethics could be a problem in itself. 
It is the responsibility of Members to be acquainted with and comply with the Laws of their country, as they apply to the practice of homeopathy. Overseas Members must abide by the laws of the country in which they practice.
This is uniformly a problem with homeopaths in pretty much every country. It is worth bearing in mind that the CCH Code of Ethics has the force of law in India. The section on advertising reads -
Members may advertise their professional services as follows: 
  • Name Plates of a modest size may be displayed outside the Member’s clinic. 
  • No Member may use the title Doctor or Physician in their Homeopathic advertising unless entitled to do so in their country. In the UK unless registered with the General Medical Society. 
  • If the title Dr is used in other forms of advertising, then it must be stated clearly what the qualification refers to (e.g. Ph.D.). 
  • Advertising must be discreet and not designed to mislead the public. 
  • No advertisement may claim or imply any superiority over the professional services provided by other practitioners, nor give the impression that the Member is a specialist in the treatment of a particular disease. 
  • No advertising may be used that claims to cure named diseases in accordance with the laws of their country. 
  • No Member may use their Association membership in the commercialization of any product or remedy.
  • Members who write articles or broadcast homeopathy must make clear that their views do not necessarily reflect those of the RSH UK.
What legislation and regulations permit for UK advertising of homeopathy is well understood. However, what non-UK members may not realise is that breaching advertising regulations in their own country could lead to RSHUK disciplinary action. Although the RSHUK has no power, per se, as the membership fees are non-refundable, it is money down the toilet.

There is also the question of what impact the RSHUK could have on other homeopathic trade bodies. 

Links to other Organisations
So say that the links between various individuals and organisations is complex would be a gross understatement. Some of the individuals named above have been involved with all sorts of schemes, most of which have gone absolutely nowhere. And some of the other people involved in those schemes are linked to other schemes. Any attempt to map this gets out of control so only fairly direct links are considered.

Harsharan Kaur Sidhu is a current/former director of the following companies -
Harjit Singh Sidhu is the current/former director of these additional companies where Harsharan Kaur Sidhu is not.
And there are possibly a few other companies with these two as directors under slightly different names.

Homeopathic Health Clinic


The purpose of the rather obvious doctoring of this photo is unclear but this is the Homoeopathic Health Clinic (HHC), which is presumably where Harsharan Kaur Sidhu is based. The doctored photo shows Baksons UK logo - see above - and also "Dr Herbals UK". There is a Companies House record which shows the company has been dissolved. The drherbalsuk.com domain isn't working but is registered to Harjit Singh Sidhu via Homoeopathic Essentials Ltd. There is a Wix shop. The above photo is fairly high res - the post in the window seems to list Dr Herbals UK products.

It would be easy to poke fun at the website and the associated ones. That is not the purpose of this post.

There is a downloadable brochure associated with the Wix shop. It is easier to examine that the website. Dr Herbals UK show a UK flag on their marketing. It seems unlikely that these products are produced in the UK. The style of the graphics is similar to what is seen in Indian marketing. The packaging shown is not consistent with EU standards for Traditional Herbal Medicines. But it is very, very similar to that of Dr Homoeopaths - Harjit Singh Sidhu again. The guest list for his presentation includes some familiar names, including Jagjit Ram and Shashi Mohan Sharma.

The American Homeo Herbal Inc on the mock up of packaging is a dissolved company listed in California. The name Harjit S Sidhu appears in the paperwork. The purpose of the company was supposedly the manufacturing of herbal products.

Conclusions
It is unsurprising that Indian homeopaths resident in the UK have links to those resident in India. Neither is it particularly surprising that business ventures are attempted, even if most of them seem to come to nothing. 

Importing Indian healthcare and beauty products is a lot more difficult than it might first appear. Licences have to be applied for, GMP certification is required and products may need to be tested or registered in the UK before they can be placed on the market. It's not a quick or easy process. Nor is it inexpensive.

Setting up UK trade bodies for homeopaths is notionally easier (and cheaper) but it does require active attempts at recruiting members. Some evidence suggests that the number of UK homeopaths is in decline. Certainly, the Society of Homeopaths have said that their numbers are dropping as their members retire and there are fewer new homeopaths joining. For India homeopaths in the UK, the Homeopathic Medical Association is a much better option than the RSHUK.

UPDATE:
Mention of a mysterious Bakson College of Homoeopathy UK is being made on various homeopathy websites - an example here. It would be appear, on face value a joint venture between the RSHUK and the Bakson organisation. The article referenced gives a web address to a page on the RSHUK website that currently does not exist. No mention is made of the "college" on either the RSHUK website or the Bakson website.

This does not suggest a thought through marketing strategy.

The office of the Bakson College of Homoeopathy UK would appear to be the shop/clinic above.

There is an "official" opening event to be held at the University of West London or rather in a room rented from them. Some have suggested that groups like RSHUK hold events at universities as opposed to other venues because of the halo effect. Some critics of homeopathy do get upset about this. One argument is that hosting pseudo-scientific medicine events is an offense to academics/scientists/medics who work at the institution. Another is the risk of reputational damage. 

But there is already a "homoeopathic college" in that part of the world - the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy the principal of which is the above mentioned Shashi Mohan Sharma. Would the Bakson College draw away potential students? Unlikely on the basis that the Bakson College of Homoeopathy UK is likely to fail even before it gets started but even so.


3 comments:

  1. A comphrehensive piece of research! However, where in all of this is the risk to public health?
    If a few homeopaths have the spare cash to join either the pointless RSH or pointless HMA then that is their problem- I can't see they are getting much for it but it is their money.
    This all must take you ages and I wonder why you are doing it. Do you really like homeopathy regulation that much?

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    Replies
    1. Do my motives matter? Not really.

      Membership of RSHUK itself does not pose a risk to public health. However, there have been cases of similar organisations claiming that their courses allow Indian homeopaths to practice in other countries. Which is not the case and would be considered fraud.

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    2. Also, it doesn't take that long if you have the right skills/background. Have been involved in fraud investigations.

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