WHILE I am sceptical of the scientific basis to support the effectiveness of homeopathy, I share the concern of patients at the decision of NHS Lothian and NHS Highland to withdraw support for homeopathic prescribing in their areas ("Tory calls for 'proper debate' on homeopathy", The Herald, October 23).

It is claimed that homeopathic preparations are not cost-effective and that the £12m spent by all health boards in Scotland over five years would be better spent elsewhere within the NHS.

It is important to view this in the context of the net cost of prescription medicines, which amounted to £1.2bn in 2012/13. Homeopathic preparations are very inexpensive compared to conventional, or allopathic, medicines.

To transfer patients from homeopathic to allopathic treatment would not produce savings.

Several patients have turned to homeopathy having failed to respond to allopathic treatment or have found the latter to have side-effects which have proved unacceptable. What recourse is left to those in this situation?

I am relieved to learn that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will continue to support the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, pictured, the only one of its kind in Europe to provide in-patient beds. It should be noted that since 2010 it has been known as The Centre for Integrative Care in order to emphasise that the care provided at the hospital extends beyond homeopathic treatment.

Physicians practising homeopathy within the NHS, either as GPs or within the hospital, are well qualified to recognise the respective roles played by conventional and homeopathic treatment and to apply whichever seems most appropriate.

It seems inequitable that patients within some health board areas should be denied access to comprehensive NHS treatment which is available to patients elsewhere in Scotland and I am pleased that the decision of NHS Lothian is to be challenged.

Malcolm Allan,

2 Tofthill Gardens,


YOUR correspondent Charles McQueen (Letters, October 26) is right to raise the important issue of prostate cancer.

It is not only the most common cancer in men in Scotland, but NHS projections suggest that the incidence is set to increase over the next 10 years.

There is a number of treatments available for prostate cancer in Scotland, including surgery and radiotherapy.

Minimal access (keyhole) surgery can reduce the impact of the operation compared with the open procedure and is available in many parts of the country, with a service in Glasgow starting soon.

As yet there is no robotically-assisted surgery in Scotland.

Robotic-assisted surgery makes the complex manoeuvres involved in minimal-access prostate surgery easier to learn and perform, which may improve outcomes.

Prostate Scotland is running the Blue Horizon Robot Appeal to raise the funding for a robot which will be given to the NHS for prostate cancer surgery in Scotland.

This fundraising appeal is to ensure that men in Scotland with prostate cancer have access to robotically-assisted surgery alongside access to other choices of treatment.

Readers who are interested in supporting the appeal can find out more at www.prostatescotland. org.uk.

Adam Caines,


Prostate Scotland,

6 Hill Street.


Your article and leader ("Two hospitals censured over food handling", The Herald, October 28) rightly highlight concerns about food handling within two Glasgow hospitals. However, you wrongly attribute the inspections as having been carried out by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Food hygiene inspections are carried out by environmental health staff of local authorities - on this occasion, Glasgow City Council. In the case of most inspections, this will reveal whether the premises pass or are classified as "Improvement Required" and this information is routinely uploaded on to the FSA website for public information by the inspectors concerned. Perhaps this is where the confusion has arisen.

John Sleith,


Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland,

c/o Development Services,

Falkirk Council,

Abbotsford House,

David's Loan,