Dalkeith grandmother loses NHS case

PIC: TOBY WILLIAMS'NEWS: THE COURT OF SESSIONS, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, HIGH STREET, EDINBURGH.''Pic shows Parliament House.
PIC: TOBY WILLIAMS'NEWS: THE COURT OF SESSIONS, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, HIGH STREET, EDINBURGH.''Pic shows Parliament House.

A grandmother from Dalkeith has lost her legal battle to force a health board to provide controversial alternative medicines on the NHS.

Honor Watt (73) sued Lothian Health Board after the authority stopped providing homeopathic treatments to patients.

The board decided in June 2013 that the money spent on giving people the substances would be better spent on conventional medicines. A number of medics believe that there is no proof that homeopathy - a style of medicine in which substances like mushrooms diluted in water are given to ill individuals - works.

Mrs Watt suffers from arthritis and received homeopathic medicine for her debilitating condition.

Her lawyers decided to challenge the board’s decision in the Court of Session claiming the health board acted illegally. But last Friday, judge Lord Uist ruled that the health board acted legally and he refused to overturn the board’s decision. In a written judgement issued on Friday, Lord Uist wrote that the health board acted correctly. He wrote: “It is clear to me from an examination of the relevant documents that the board was from the outset consciously focusing on its PSED.”

In January 2014, Mrs Watt was given a final appointment with the homeopathic service and told she was no longer entitled to homeopathic treatment. However, the judgement states that she still receives a prescription of homeopathic medicine.

In a report written by NHS employee Alyson Malone, the reasons the board should stop spending money on alternative treatment were set out. Lord Uist wrote: “In that report she stated that the withdrawal of funding for homeopathic services would have a limited negative impact on patients and staff, the majority of patients were from more affluent areas and it was felt that they could perhaps afford to self fund alternative provision.”

Lawyers acting for Mrs Watt claimed that the board didn’t do enough to seek the views of those who used the service. However, Lord Uist concluded that the health board had done everything in its power and had made the correct decision.