What a Jeremy Hunt …

The British government has just appointed someone who appears to be functionally illiterate as far as the sciences are concerned as Health Secretary.

The author of the MotePrime blog, Sean Ellis, took him up on his support for an Early Day motion in the British parliament in support of Homoeopathic Hospitals. His response to Mr Ellis, quoted on MotePrime, is revealing

I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue. Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is “patient-led” it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient.

Let’s take this bit by bit, because there are a couple of different problems here.

I understand that it is your view that homeopathy is not effective, and therefore that people should not be encouraged to use it as a treatment. However I am afraid that I have to disagree with you on this issue.

Firstly it’s not the fact that it is Sean Ellis’s (or my) view that is important. It is that this is what the evidence says. Mr. Hunt is entitled to his opinion, but in this case he wants his own facts and no-one is entitled to those.

Then he goes on to entirely change the parameters:

  Homeopathic care is enormously valued by thousands of people and in an NHS that the Government repeatedly tells us is “patient-led” it ought to be available where a doctor and patient believe that a homeopathic treatment may be of benefit to the patient.

The thousands of people that may value it don’t change the facts one iota, any more than the bleatings of climate change deniers stop the ice melting. A patient-led health service, not that I even know what that is supposed to mean, surely shouldn’t be one in which patients order doctors to give them whatever bollox du jour the Daily Mail might come up with that month but rather one in which the doctors lay out one or more proposed treatment plans with full information on the efficacy of the treatments and their potential side-effects and then discusses the plan fully and honestly with the patient, considering the pros and cons of a given treatment in that person’s specific circumstances. You empower people by giving them accurate information, not by conniving in a lie.

What do you call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?

Medicine

And the rest is just a nice bowl of soup and some pot pourri.

A hat tip to Tom Chivers at the Telegraph, who must have one of the most thankless jobs in the world (casting scientific pearls before Tory swine) and whose description of the appointment says it all:

This is not unlike putting someone who thinks the Second World War began in 1986 in charge of the Department of Education.

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