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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 July, 2004, 19:37 GMT 20:37 UK
Minister hails troubled hospital
In-patients ward at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital
The hospital has the only in-patients ward in the UK
Scotland's health minister has told doctors fighting to keep in-patient beds at a homeopathic hospital that he was "very impressed" with their work.

Malcolm Chisholm was visiting the Glasgow hospital, which is under threat due to budget cuts.

It is the only homeopathic facility in the UK with in-patient wards.

The hospital was built with private funding but running costs are funded by Greater Glasgow Health Board, which has to make 58m of savings this year.

This has led to in-patient beds at the hospital being earmarked for closure.

The hospital is the only one in the UK able to look after patients 24 hours a day and tackle complex cases which are not responding to conventional medicine.

Mr Chisholm has said in parliament that he thinks the hospital provides an excellent model of care.

Doctors are hoping that his personal intervention can turn the situation around.

They believe that for many patients homeopathic treatments are the only alternative to expensive drugs, repeated GP visits and emergency admissions.

We help patients when all else in conventional medicine has failed and we do that in a way that saves money
Dr David Reilly

The minister met with staff who were worried that budget cuts will result in them not being able to treat the most complex cases.

"Everything that I have heard about the hospital suggests that it provides an excellent model of patient-centred and holistic care," said Mr Chisholm.

"It also takes patients from many boards throughout Scotland.

"I'm sure that NHS Greater Glasgow will want to bear those two points in mind when it considers its position on the matter."

He said no "firm" proposals had been made by the Greater Glasgow Health Board, but if significant restructuring of services at the homeopathic hospital is proposed, the board would have to consult and the plan would go to him for final approval.

Dr David Reilly, lead consultant physician at the hospital, told BBC Radio Scotland that "cutting innovation" was not the best way forward.

Malcolm Chisholm
Mr Chisholm praised the hospital's "holistic" approach
He added: "We help patients when all else in conventional medicine has failed and we do that in a way that saves money. We break into the cycles of costly drugs, investigations, referrals and even surgery.

"We've already made significant savings over the last decade and even built the hospital building by charitable donation without a penny from the NHS and we can contribute further to savings without losing beds.

"One of the main causes of the NHS's massive overspend is a 50% rise in the drug bill to 7.4bn. Four million people are on Prozac and we believe that the old model of treating people with chronic illness based on drugs is not working.

"We're developing new models which will actually save money and are less drug based, which means we can contribute to significant savings right across the NHS."

A spokesman for Greater Glasgow Health Board said: "The board asked for additional work to be done on the Homeopathic Hospital proposal to determine its viability and to find out what effect that would have on patient services.

"This work is still under way and once it is completed, the board will decide what to do next."

Does homeopathy work?
26 Nov 02  |  Health
Fears for homeopathic hospital
11 May 04  |  Scotland

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