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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Homeopathy ward escapes cutbacks
The health board has decided to save homeopathic inpatient beds
The health board has decided to save homeopathic inpatient beds
Scotland's only homeopathic inpatient hospital ward has been saved from closure under NHS cuts.

Health chiefs have confirmed that the 15-bed unit will escape a cost-cutting exercise after a review.

The unit at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital combines conventional and alternative medicine within the NHS.

Members of Greater Glasgow Health Board had been considering closing the unique overnight ward in an effort to trim 300,000 from their budget.

Patients and doctors at the hospital resisted the proposal, which was designed to pay for a modernisation scheme.

Medics argued it would be a false economy and that the unit was vital in treating severely ill patients.

It is clear that both the homoeopathic clinicians and the patients take the view that this service can only be fully provided with dedicated beds
Tom Divers
Greater Glasgow NHS Board

They stressed that homeopathic treatments were an alternative to expensive drugs, GP visits and emergency hospital admissions.

Greater Glasgow NHS Board said it acknowledged the inpatient service offered a "valid and important model of care" for a small number of patients whose needs had not been met by conventional care.

Chief executive Tom Divers said: "Board members have visited the hospital and no stone has been left unturned in examining the cases for and against closing the inpatient beds.

"Three-hundred-and-fifty patients a year are admitted to the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital and it is clear that both the homoeopathic clinicians and the patients take the view that this service can only be fully provided with dedicated beds."

Brian McAlorum, patient representative and co-author of the joint review paper, said: "This news is met with enormous relief and appreciation to the health board for making this crucial positive decision.

The ward offers a unique homeopathy service

"The team of dedicated staff at the hospital will now be able to continue working with their usual diligence and devotion to provide crucial care to those who need it most."

Consultant Dr David Reilly said the hospital's integrated care policy had saved the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds per year and he would like to see the example followed across Scotland.

He also paid tribute to the patient-power campaign.

"It needed no help from me or spark from the rest of the staff. It really came strongly and powerfully from them. It was their voice," he said.

"The staff and others have been delighted and taken aback by the enormous strength of support the patients have brought forward."

'Holistic approach'

Campaigner Catherine Hughes called for a cash injection from ministers.

She said: "We want to see this unit invested in and we want to see it expanded.

"Knowing that the hospital beds may not be there in the future has given the patients untold stress and has weighed very heavily on their minds."

One of them, Isabella Mooney, has been treated at the hospital for a degenerative bone disease for many years.

Isabella Mooney
That hospital has been a life-saver
Isabella Mooney

She is cared for as an inpatient three times per year, as conventional medicine alone has failed to treat her condition successfully.

"They deal with the physicals but also the emotional trauma. Every decision that I was making was based on the physical pain I was in," she said.

"To get into that takes time and dedication and these people did that and I thank God that they did. That hospital has been a life-saver."

Homeopathy is based on the principle that 'like cures like' in terms of medicines. Experts claim that an ailment can be cured by small quantities of substances which produce the same symptoms.

Practitioners also take a more holistic approach to treating illnesses.

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.

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11 May 04 |  Scotland


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