Monday, 19 November 2018

UK Homeopathy Organisations #1

The world of UK homeopathy is very small. Much smaller than some make it out to be and it is likely shrinking. It's not exactly surprising that most of the groups involved are linked in some way. What might surprise some is how very closely linked some groups are. It might also surprise how few people are involved. 

The amateurish of much of what goes on, the poor decision making, lack of governance, bad alliances and often inward focus will be familiar to those who have ever had dealings with badly run small voluntary/community/political groups. 

This post looks at those organisations that are more associated with medical homeopaths. Those organisations more closely associated with lay homeopathy will be the subject of a future post.

British Homeopathic Association
This is the oldest and best funded homeopathy charity in the UK. It was founded in 1905. It also absorbed another charity the Homeopathic Trust (although there have been two charities of that name). 
The principal objects of the charity are to promote and develop the study and practice of homeopathy and to advance education and research in the theory and practice of homeopathy provided that the useful results of such research shall be published. 
The British Homeopathic Association’s overall priority is to ensure that homeopathy is available to all through: 
1. providing information about homeopathy 
2. developing the evidence base for homeopathy 
3. encouraging the education and training in homeopathy of healthcare professionals 
4. ensuring patients have access to homeopathy 
5. fundraising to support all of the above
The BHA is also a limited company. Its directors are -
  • Cristal Heather SUMNER
  • John Howard MORGAN
  • Richard Charles O'QUINN
  • Robert ORCHARD
  • Gary James SMYTH
  • Elizabeth Jane TUCKER
  • Margaret WYLLIE
Sumner is not a Trustee though. She is the Chief Executive Officer and appears to have been since 2000. Something that is very noticeable is that over time Sumner has become a lot more visible, strident even. There are a number of other staff employed by the British Homeopathic Association (BHA), some of whom are "shared" with the Faculty of Homeopathy (FoH).

John Morgan is a pharmacist by trade. He is the owner of Helios Homoeopathy as well being a member and director of the Society of Homeopaths (SoH). Richard O'Quinn seems to have a background in marketing and is also a director of the SoH. Orchard is a journalist who has written in favour of homeopathy. Smyth is a GP with various other interests as well as being acting President of the FoH. Tucker - it is not clear who she is. Margaret Wyllie's background would appear to be teaching but has long been a supporter of homeopathy and formed a Lothian Homeopathy Group in the dim and distant past (with support of the BHA).

Little is known about employees of the BHA other than Sumner who has become more prominent over the years.

In terms of providing information, the BHA has a website. It has a presence on social media - Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Notionally, it has a YouTube channel but it actually belongs to the FoH. It also produces a magazine Health & Homeopathy as well as having an online bookshop. It used to produce various different leaflets. It runs various public events. It's not clear if it still does, but it used to turn up to Crufts, Supreme Cat Show and the Chelsea Flower Show. It does have some involvement in Homeopathy Awareness Week but in the past tended to do this on its own and to be fair it did manage to gain some media coverage before the mainstream media became more critical of homeopathy. 

The BHA talks about research but currently doesn't seem to do any. This maybe because there is now the Homeopathic Research Institute (HRI). It has a section on its website and sometimes has the odd news item. An "evidence base" it is not.

Historically, the BHA has funded research of various kinds. Partly this was due to receipt of income that was specifically for research but generally the amounts were small. There was also at one point funding of a lecturer post at Liverpool University for several years.

This article tells us something very interesting about the history of the BHA - it was initially set up to pay for the homeopathic education of doctors in the UK. It still does but not to the same extent. For the years 2016/17 and 2015/16 grants of £100,000 where made to the FoH but before that the annual grant was £50,000 (although back in 2007/08 it was higher and at its peak in 2000, it was £345,000 although prior to that much lower).

Much is made of patient access to NHS homeopathy. The website contains very out of date information on how to access it. It's known that the BHA used to produce leaflets. 

The BHA used to fund more clinics than it does now. There seems to have been a hope that local NHS bodies would start to provide (some) funding once they were established but nothing much ever came of this and the original clinics seem to have closed. There was never much enthusiasm for homeopathy on the part of these bodies but from the mid 2000's onwards, they become much more negative.

Reading historical reports reveals that it supported local campaigns against Primary Care Trusts (the predecessors of Clinical Commissioning Groups) cutting/restricting funding of secondary care homeopathy, the closure of clinics as a result of those cuts but it doesn't seem as if the BHA gave these groups any significant amounts of money. What the BHA has done in the past is organise letter writing campaigns, petitions and the like. 

The BHA has in the past tried to engage with NHS bodies, Department of Health etc but it would seem without any real success. There is a sense of the BHA becoming more frustrated and possibly antagonistic as the tide of opinion has turned against homeopathy.

The latest annual report mentions the BHA's intention to apply for judicial review but it doesn't say anything about what monies would be allocated to this. The judicial review ultimately failed and despite crowdfunding has ended up costing the BHA a lot of money. This has been discussed at great length in previous posts but it does represent very poor judgement.

Most of the BHA's income comes from bequests and return on investments. Whether depending on bequests is sustainable in the long term is unknown, especially if the popularity of homeopathy is declining. It is possible to become a Friend of the BHA - which gets you a subscription to their print magazine, an email newsletter and invitations to meetings.

Faculty of Homeopathy
The FoH is both a membership body and training provider for regulated medical professionals who practice homeopathy. It gives out various qualifications but these are not recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC). It is not possible to be listed on the GMC register as a homeopathy specialist. The FoH did manage to become a revalidation body and much was made of this but it's not recognition of homeopathy.

Its history dates back to 1843 and the creation of the British Homeopathy Society. It became the FoH in 1943 and was incorporated in 1950. At a casual glance, this might look like Government recognition of homeopathy but the real story is more complicated - in short medical schools wanted nothing to do with homeopathy. For much of its history, the FoH has had a dismissive attitude towards lay homeopaths. Publicly, all the various homeopathy organisations are united these days but old attitudes die hard.

The FoH is a statutory corporation. It's not a register company, nor is it a charity. As a result, its accounts are not filed anywhere. Statutory corporations do not appear to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It used to publish an Annual Review but the last one that is publicly available is from 2013.

It is also curious to note that the FoH used to publish details of its Council. This is no longer the case. The most recent list is from the end of 2017 -
  • President: Dr Helen Beaumont 
  • Immediate Past-President: Dr Sara Eames
  • Vice President: Dr Elizabeth Thompson
  • Treasurer: Dr Gary Smyth
  • Medical Dean: Julie Geraghty
  • Nursing Dean: (to be confirmed)
  • Pharmacy Dean: Dr Lee Kayne
  • Veterinary Dean: Mr Peter Gregory
  • Podiatry Dean: Mr Tariq Khan
  • Members’ Committee Convener: Dr Patricia Ridsdale
  • NHS Primary Care representative: Dr Ralf Schmalhorst
  • NHS Secondary Care representative: Dr Helmut Roniger
  • Independent Practice representative: Dr Jonathan Hardy
The current iteration the FoH website looks somewhat broken but there is non-linked to directory that has what looks like photos of staff who are -
  • Dr Gabriella Day
  • Mr Tony Pinkus
  • Dr Jonathan Hardy
  • Dr Patricia Ridsdale
  • Mr Peter Gregory
  • Dr Gary Smyth
  • Dr Jacqueline Mardon
  • Dr Sara Eames
  • Dr Julie Geraghty
  • Ms Lesley Peatfield
  • Dr Helen Beaumont
This list does look very similar to the Council list. Pinkus could be the new Pharmacy Dean (he is owner of Ainsworths - a homeopathy manufacturer), Peatfield the new Podiatry Dean. Day could be the NHS Primary Care representative.

Elizabeth Thompson's current status is not entirely known. There is a National Centre for Integrative Medicine formerly the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine (PCIM) which she is notionally head of. She was also involved with the defunct Bristol Homeopathic Hospital. Thompson and PCIM will be discussed in a future post.

The BHA and the FoH have always been closely linked. The BHA says they share some staff. In some places, Cristal Sumner is said to be CEO of FoH but LinkedIn suggests it's Greg White.

The FoH offers all sorts of training courses and various levels of membership to certain statutorily regulated professions -
  • Doctors
  • Veterinary Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Nurses
  • Podiatrists
  • Osteopaths
  • Chiropractors
The majority of homeopathic products are unlicensed medicines, they can only be prescribed by doctors, vets and to a degree dentists. Nurses, even nurse independent prescribers, can not prescribe them, whatever prescribing rights they have. Podiatrists have limited prescribing rights. Osteopaths and chiropractors have none. Only registered homeopathic medicines can be supplied. It offers international courses but some of the countries mentioned have a (near) prohibition on the use of homeopathy by doctors.

Worryingly, the FoH accredits qualifications from the Kenia School of Integrated Medicine (which seems to have been set up by Dutch homeopaths). 

The FoH mention funding research but research doesn't reveal anything major. It sometimes emails members/post news items asking members to become involved in third party "research".

The FoH talks about homeopathy education in medical schools. At one point, there was funding of a lecturer post at Liverpool University but it seems from his LinkedIn profile Martien Brands did somewhat more than teach homeopathy. It is not clear whether any homeopathy education occurs in medical schools anymore but it seems unlikely 

BHA annual reports reveal that the FoH commissioned the report Go Figure: Making the Economic Case for Homeopathy from Viewforth Consulting (generally deals with education) which sank without trace.

The FoH has a Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and Youtube channel

The FoH's income is derived from membership and examination fees as well as grants from the BHA and others. It loses money on its magazine, journal and Congress. It does not appear to have much in the way of reserves. It does not seem to earn any income from investments.

It seems to be based at the same address as the BHA.

Blackie Foundation Trust
The FoH also receives money from the Blackie Foundation Trust although this seems to be intermittent. Margery Blackie was part of the Royal Medical Household - note part. There is often an implication by supporters that the Royal Family are entirely dependent on homeopathy or that the Homeopathic Physician is all there is. Whilst certain members of the Royal Family are known to be keen on homeopathy, they do use conventional medicine.

The Trust has considerable investments and it mostly uses the income from that to give grants. There is very little of other income. The trustees are -
  • Hamish Avory Stuart Andrew Blackie
  • Jeremy David Bedford Nickson 
  • Dr Sara Ann Eames
There was a website but it isn't very illuminating. 

Barcapel Foundation
Older UK readers may be amused to learn that the original money for the Barcapel Foundation came for Kattomeat and Kennomeat.

It's never given a huge amount of money to the BHA/FoH.

Friends of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine
This is again a surprisingly affluent charity. The Friends' stated aims are -
  • To educate the public, health professions and policy makers of the needs of the hospital’s patients, with particular emphasis on homeopathy, and to encourage interest and support in the hospital.
  • To give and exchange information and advice and to promote education in all matters relating to hospitals and hospital management, to promote research and to disseminate the results.
  • To publish, or contribute to the publication of, any papers, books, periodicals, reports or other documents relating to homeopathy and other recognised complementary therapies.
  • To hold conferences, meetings, lectures, exhibitions and discussions.
  • To supplement the service provided by the hospital for the health, welfare and comfort of the patients, by the provision of facilities and equipment.
  • To provide, or assist in the provision of amenities for patients and staff.
One thing that is clear is that the Friends go well beyond these aims unless the third point is interpreted in incredible broad terms. What the Friends are doing getting involved in veterinary homeopathy is unknown but it appears that all of the news items were written by a former member of the BHA/FoH staff. It is atypical for hospital Friends groups to address anything beyond patients of the hospital and the local community.
  • Chairman: Mrs Enid Segall
  • Vice Chairman: Ms Cynthia Burton
  • Treasurer: Mr Renny Clark
  • Mrs Valerie Palmer
  • Ms Jennifer Hurstfield
  • Mrs Ruth Cohen
  • Dr Ann Bowden
  • Ms Caroline Ford (Co-opted May 2018) 
Ex Officio
  • Administrator: Mr John Pyle
  • Projects Manager: Ms Sato Liu

Segall is former General Secretary of the BHA - which is presumably what the CEO role was called in the past. Sato Liu is interesting in that she was formerly involved with the infamous Princes Foundation for Integrated Health.

The Friends provide a fair amount of information on their website but a lot of it is out of date especially when it comes to accessing treatment at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM). This will be dealt with in a future post on the end of NHS homeopathy in England. This potted history of the RHLIM is interesting.

They do spend money on supplying the RHLIM and its patients with various things but it has spent a lot of money campaigning to preserve access to NHS services at the RHLIM. 

The Friends have surprising financial reserves. It has been in existence since 1975 and the reserves are likely the result of bequests etc. The Friends do generate some income from donations and a snack bar.

Whilst it does give an address at Great Ormond Street, it also lists the same address as the BHA.

European Federation of Homeopathic Patient Associations
The EFHPA's stated aims are -
  • to represent patients in Europe using or seeking homeopathic treatment
  • to defend these patients’ rights and interests
  • to work towards homeopathy becoming integrated into EU healthcare policy
  • to raise awareness of the benefits of homeopathy with EU healthcare authorities
  • to lobby for harmonisation in the implementation of the EU Directives pertinent to homeopathic medicines throughout Europe leading to equal availability of the treatments and medicines to all EU citizens
  • to support the founding and development of national homeopathic patients’ organisations.
It's board consists of -
  • Enid Segall, President, UK 
  • Fabienne Gigandet, Vice-President, Switzerland 
  • Wim Menkveld, Treasurer, Netherlands 
  • Sato Liu, Secretary, UK 
  • Jennifer Hurstfield, Member of the Board, UK 
  • Cristal Sumner, Member of the Board , UK 
  • Miquel Peralta, Member of the Board, Catalonia, Spain
Something that is curious is that some of the supposed patient organisations here are nothing of the sort. The EFPHA is an off-shoot of the European Council for Homeopathy (ECH).

It isn't really clear if the EFPHA does very much beyond having an annual conference.

It has a Twitter account and Facebook page. It gives both the address of the BHA and the Friends.

European Committee for Homeopathy
The ECH is an organisation for medical homeopaths. Not lay homeopaths. Its stated goals are -
  • Promoting the scientific development of homeopathy;
  • ensuring high standards in the education, training and practice of homeopathy by medical doctors;
  • harmonising professional standards in homeopathic practice across Europe;
  • providing high-quality homeopathic care in a safe medical context;
  • integrating high-quality homeopathy into European healthcare.
Harmonising professional standards is nigh on impossible. Some European countries permit/tolerate lay homeopathy. Others take an incredibly dim view of doctors practicing homeopathy. Its Council are -
  • Dr Hélène Renoux President
  • Dr Sara Eames Vice-President
  • Dr Jaume Costa General Secretary
  • Dr Arlette Blanchy Treasurer
  • Ms Caroline Vandeschoor Documentation Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
  • Dr Dora Patchova Education Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
  • Ms Cristal Sumner Patients Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
  • lse Muchitsch Mag. pharm. Pharmacy Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
  • Dr Hetty Buitelaar Political Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
  • Dr Jean Pierre Jansen Provings Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
  • Dr Tiziana di Giampietro Research Subcommittee Co-Ordinator
Why is has a patient sub-committee when the EFHPA exists is unknown.

What the ECH actually does is a bit of a mystery. It liaises with other homeopathy organisations, it has meetings and a conference but that's about it. It's possible that it does have a lobbying role at EU level but 

The ECH has a Twitter account, Facebook page, LinkedIn account and a Youtube channel. It is based in Belgium.

In theory there is also the Liga Medicorum Homoeopathical Internationalis (LMHI) but it appears moribund and dominated by non-Europeans.

All the social media accounts of the above seem to post the same stories and repost each others stories. That many of them list the BHA's address as a contact address, that there are so many linked people does raise the question as to whether the BHA is behind these accounts (and possibly others). 

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