Select Committee on Science and Technology Sixth Report


Special visit to the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital by two members of the Sub-Committee on 24 August 2000

Members present:Lord Perry of Walton
Lord Walton of Detchant

The Homeopathic Hospital is in the grounds of the Gartnavel General Hospital in the west of Glasgow. The building, which is extremely attractive, is owned by the NHS but the capital costs needed to erect the building were all obtained from private sources. There is an in-patient unit of 14 beds, with extensive out-patient facilities, and access to all of the more sophisticated radiological and other investigative activities of the General Hospital nearby. Some 400 patients are admitted to the unit annually. All out-patients are seen by reference from general practitioners or medical consultants in Glasgow. One great advantage is that the doctors are not, as a rule, required to see more than one, or at the most two, new patients in a single out-patient session, so that there is ample time for full and detailed consultation; this enables them to practise "whole patient" or so-called holistic medicine. Medical students are regularly attached to the Homeopathic Hospital on an elective basis.

Homeopathic remedies of all types are widely employed but whenever appropriate, and particularly in serious disease, conventional medical treatment is provided. In essence, therefore, the unit practises integrated medicine.

A detailed discussion took place about the research of the unit with Dr David Reilly and with the Unit Manager and two of Dr Reilly's colleagues, one a consultant, like him, in general internal medicine, and the other an associate specialist. Dr Reilly pointed out that they have great difficulty in raising funds for research, though they have obtained some from private sources and some through NHS mechanisms.

Discussions ranged widely over the role of homeopathic medicine and the mechanism of action of homeopathic remedies. Dr Reilly agreed that many biochemists find the concept of homeopathic treatment puzzling and difficult to accept, but pointed out that in his opinion the biophysicists had much less difficulty in understanding the validity of the mechanism by which homeopathic remedies may act.