British Homeopathic Association believes complementary and alternative medicine charities are being unfairly targeted by Charity Commission review.
Charities that promote unproven treatments for sick patients could be stripped of their charitable status under proposals being considered by the UK government’s regulator.
The Charity Commission is reviewing how it decides which organisations qualify as charities – a status that brings authority as well as tax breaks – after it received complaints that some organisations make unfounded claims about complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies.
Hundreds of charities registered in the UK promote CAM therapies for all kinds of ailments, and while some interventions have demonstrable benefits – such as hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome – many more are unproven.
The Commission has received more than 300 responses to a public consultation on the issue, which closes on Friday, with many submissions coming from charities themselves. The British Homeopathic Association, which believes that CAM charities are being unfairly targeted by the review, points out that doctors and nurses around the world use CAM therapies in daily practice because they believe they help patients.
But an investigation by Les Rose, a clinical science consultant with the charity HealthWatch, claims to have found that dozens of UK-registered CAM charities offered dubious advice to people. Some discouraged vaccinations while others promoted homeopathic remedies for serious illnesses or invited donations to treat people at a distance by transmitting “healing energy”.
“The assumption is that charities are regulated and the regulator will make sure that they are bona fide, but the regulator doesn’t do anything of the kind,” Rose told the Guardian. “The Commission has to give these charities notice that they will be expected to provide evidence for any claims they make and that they’ll be de-registered if they don’t do it.”