Wednesday, 8 September 2010

One down, three to go

Andy Lewis (Le Canard Noir of The Quackometer) is bearing up very well after the recent demise of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, and has written its obituary. For the benefit of those who are pressed for time, I print below a slightly abridged version.

The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital of Great Ormond Street, London, has passed away after a long battle with science. It can trace its origins back to The London Homeopathic Hospital founded by Dr. Frederick Foster Quin, the first homeopath in England. Quinn was a pupil of the founder of homeopathy, Dr Samuel Hahnemann, and his entry to London saw him mixing with the aristocratic and wealthy, establishing royal connections for homeopathy that would last until today.

In its life, the RLHH has moved through several London addresses and became the Royal Hospital when King George VI granted the honour in 1948. In the same year it was subsumed into the NHS as part of the widespread post-war nationalisation of the health system.

In becoming a public institution, and no longer relying on wealthy benefactors, the hospital began its long and slow battle against the cancer of reality. Despite its long history, the homeopaths could not demonstrate that anything that was going on inside showed any sign of objective success. Instead of embracing the new world of trials and evidence, the hospital clung to its tried and trusted approach of relying on anecdotal stories of its success, a diet that would ensure its eventual demise. Despite other doctors’ warning that it had to kick the 60-a-day habit of anecdote after anecdote, the rot of pseudoscience was setting in.

After the Staines air disaster in 1972, which tragically killed 16 of its doctors on the way to a conference, the hospital started to become more and more diluted as it lost its ability to survive alone and subsumed its independence to its retirement home of University College London Hospitals. At the time of its demise today, only one small ward was still breathing and having to share its small room with unwelcome acupuncture quacks and reiki healers

Hope for a longer life flourished under the directorship of Dr Anthony Campbell, a homeopath who recognised that homeopathy was a form of counselling and was thoroughly skeptical of its more deluded claims. Unfortunately, this progressive form of homeopathy never took root and the current incumbents maintained the wilder fantasies of homeopathic healing, ensuring the spreading disease of reality would soon ensure the lights would be going out.

The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital has many admirers from abroad. Homeopaths in India, Africa and Cuba used the presence of a Royal Hospital, funded by tax payers within the NHS, to push quackery on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, replacing cheap and effective malaria treatments with sugar pills and water drops, pretending homeopathy can treat AIDS, cancer and TB and using it as justification to replace effective infectious disease control with superstitious nonsense. It is survived by similar institutions in Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. We understand that they too are desperately ill and will not be able to attend the funeral

It is understood that the body of the hospital will not be donated to science, but instead will be occupied by a few remaining stragglers who will stick pins in patients, wave their arms around them and dish out vitamin pills. Known as the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, it will survive for a few more months until it is realised that ‘Integrated’ is a misnomer and it is still practising superstitious nonsense.

No flowers.


eric said...

In Philadelphia, where I used to live, there is a venerable hospital and medical college (now part of Drexel University) named after Hahnemann. It's reassuring, somehow, that what started as a den of quackery was able, at some point (I don't know the historical details) to evolve into a respectable medical facility. Pity the same didn't happen at Royal Homeopathic. The poor Queen Mum must be devastated.

Tony said...

Eric, I don't think they do devastation up there. Or wherever.

eric said...

Hah, I'd actually forgotten she'd passed on! But no doubt the diluted atoms of her essence are devastated, wherever they may be.

eric said...

Also, this:

Tony said...

Eric: Coming in contact with homeopathic literature has so rotted my brain that I read nearly all of this before I realised that it was a spoof.