An independent charity for science and integrity in healthcare

Read the latest HealthWatch newsletter:  Issue 106, Autumn 2017

15 AprilBristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are consulting on proposals for homeopathy for a second time.

We reported on their first consultation last year. This overlapped with a consultation by NHS England and we understand some homeopaths had complained to the CCGs about the way their consultation had been run. This second consultation should finally decide the fate of homeopathy in the area.

After the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital closed in January 2013, homeopathy continued to be provided by a small clinic at the South Bristol Community Hospital. Just three years later, in October 2015, this too closed to be replaced by a private clinic, the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine. That is not part of the NHS but is contracted by the CCGs to provide homeopathy services.

At the end of November 2017, NHS England announced recommendations that GPs should no longer prescribe homeopathic treatments or herbal remedies.

The CCGs give further details here and have published a summary document.

The aim of their proposal is to review the commissioning of homeopathy services and treatments and includes three options.

  • The homeopathy service should continue under the current policy where funding is granted if the patient meets the published criteria
  • The current policy should be amended to reduce access either by reducing the number of appointments routinely funded or by restricting the access criteria so the fewer patients will qualify for treatment
  • NHS funded homeopathy is only available in rare and exceptional circumstances and would need to be approved by the Individual Funding Request Panel (IFR)

The consultation closes on Sunday 15 April 2018 so plenty of time to submit your response online. This is little more than indicating how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the three proposed options, but you have the opportunity to provide further information if you so wish.

We encourage members to take a minute to submit their response.

The 2018 HealthWatch student prize competition for critical appraisal of clinical research protocols is now open.

There are two first prizes of £500 each, one for medical and dental students and one for students of nursing, midwifery and professions allied to medicine. Up to five runner-up prizes of £100 will be awarded in each class. Prize winners will be invited to attend the HealthWatch Annual General Meeting in October to receive their prizes.

The competition consists of four hypothetical research protocols: your task is to rank the protocols in order from that most likely to provide a reliable answer to the stated aims of the trial to that least likely to do so. You then have to explain your ranking in no more than 600 words.

Please pass on to any students, organisations, colleges, universities, etc you think might be interested.

Your entry must be submitted before midnight BST on Monday 30 April 2018. Entries received after that time will not be considered.

The terms and conditions can be read here.

Find out more here.

Free student membership

Whether you enter the competition or not, if you are a full-time student, please consider taking advantage of our offer of free Student Membership of HealthWatch.

The Department of Health is seeking views on the regulation of medical associate professions (MAPs) in the UK.

Deadline for submissions

Friday 22 December 2017

Consultation description

Full details of the consultation can be found here.

Rising demands for medical treatment and advances in clinical care requires a co-ordinated approach and greater skill mix within NHS healthcare teams.

In recent years the health service has seen the emergence and increased use of new professional roles within multi-disciplinary teams as part of a continuing drive to provide safe, accessible and high-quality care for patients.

Four of these roles are:

  • physician associate (PA)
  • physicians’ assistant (anaesthesia) (PA(A))
  • surgical care practitioner (SCP)
  • advanced critical care practitioner (ACCP)
  • As these professionals become more widely employed, it is necessary to explore the options for professional regulation.

This consultation seeks your views on the following proposals:

  • To introduce statutory regulation for PAs
  • To seek further evidence on the most proportionate level of regulation for PA(A)s
  • To seek views on the position that statutory regulation of the SCP and ACCP roles is not proportionate, and whether alternative options for professional assurance should be considered

A consultation document and a risk assessment profile from Health Education England (HEE) are published alongside this consultation.


We will be considering whether to submit a formal HealthWatch response and we encourage our members to think about their own personal response.

Responses can be submitted here.


Do you feel that HealthWatch should respond to this consultation?

Do you have any suggestions about what we should say in our response?

Could you help us coordinate or write our response, particularly if you have expertise in this area?

If you submit your own personal response, could you send us a copy to help us formulate our response?


If you are able to help us, or require any further information, please contact our consultations coordinator, Roger Fisken.

The Autumn 2017 issue of the HealthWatch Newsletter is now online here!

The HealthWatch Newsletter is now free to read and download. HealthWatch members will shortly receive their personal printed copy of the newsletter if they have opted to do so.

Featured in this issue:

  • NEWS FEATURE British universities are not sharing the results of their research, resulting in wasted public money and danger to patients.
  • NEWS Consultations, awards, a new book, and how patience with homeopathy is running out.
  • TREATMENTS How a routine practice during childbirth could be putting newborn's lives at risk.
  • NUTRITION Can this best-selling "healthy" 21-day diet plan live up to its promises?
  • MEETING REPORT Worlds collide: an on-the-spot-report from an NHS Public Consultation event.
  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR "Regulatory agencies are like a car with only two speeds - too fast and too slow".
  • LAST WORD Another hair-raising story about cancer hits the headlines, but the truth will surprise you.

Join us by becoming a member of HealthWatch and a supporter of science and integrity in healthcare.

HealthWatch has responded to the Government's consultation on research integrity with a practical proposal to address the issue of incomplete and inaccurate reporting of clinical trials.

The proposal, submitted jointly with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines UK, TranspariMED, and Dr Simon Kolstoe, calls for a national clinical trial audit system that would substantially strengthen research integrity by monitoring the registration, summary results posting and academic publication of every trial conducted in the UK. It refers to a pilot trial of such a scheme that was conducted over 2010–11 at the University of Portsmouth by Simon Kolstoe, senior lecturer in research design and ethics there. The pilot used documents already held by research ethics committees to monitor retrospectively whether trials have been registered, post summary results within 12 months, and publish accurate results. It found that such an audit was effective and could be implemented at minimal cost.

The House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's Inquiry into Research Integrity was launched initially in January this year to look at trends and developments in fraud, misconduct and mistakes in research and the publication of research results, and the so-called 'crisis in reproducibility' of research. It had begun to take evidence but was closed on trhe dissolution of parliament for the general election, and there were fears that valuable evidence already submitted might not be heard (see Spring/Summer 2017 issue of the HealthWatch Newsletter, p3). The inquiry was re-opened on 13th September and closed on 5th October with nearly 100 submissions received from experts and concerned groups.

Written submissions from HealthWatch and by other parties will soon be accessible online at the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's webpage for the Research Integrity Inquiry.

The submission of which HealthWatch was a joint signatory was prepared by Dr Till Bruckner, of TranspariMED, a UK-based initiative that develops and promotes policy solutions to the problem of evidence distortion in medical research.