Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England has written to the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care arguing that the Society of Homeopaths should not be re-accredited as to do so would give a false impression that homeopathy has been clinically and scientifically established.

In a separate statement, Mr Stevens said: "Anything that gives homeopathy a veneer of credibility risks chancers being able to con more people into parting with their hard-earned cash in return for bogus treatments which at best do nothing, and at worst can be potentially dangerous."

One of the dangers Mr Stevens referred to was the "rise in misinformation about vaccines - some of which is apparently promoted by homeopaths - and which poses a significant danger to human health."

In other words, anyone gullible enough to believe that a dilution of 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water to one part of crude oil, or skimmed milk, or human placenta, or condoms, or anything else for that matter, is going to cure them of anything, is more likely to believe all sorts of anti-vaccine, anti-pharmaceutical company nonsense, something which is very dangerous at a time when vaccination rates have been declining.

Human medicine does not have the monopoly on nonsense, of course. There are those who continue to peddle the lie that homeopathy can cure cancer in animals, and as the declining rates of human vaccination would tend to suggest, no shortage of people prepared to believe them. 

Niall Taylor MRCVS, author of No Way To Treat a Friend, said: "The situation in the veterinary profession mirrors that in the medical profession: a small number of people preaching the benefits of a discredited belief system to vulnerable people.

"Some in the profession argue that we should humour those owners who practise homeopathy in animals, as to challenge them would drive them underground. The problem is that if we don't challenge them, we help foster a belief system which doesn't just harm animal health, but human health too. So the skill here is to find ways to challenge these beliefs in a way that is empathetic and constructive."

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