Anthroposophical doctor prescribed quack medicine to Camphill clients

(update Social Services Report referred to below can now be viewed from the downloads area of the blog)

Coleg Elidyr is a Welsh Camphill Community specialising in the residential care and education of young adults with moderate to severe learning difficulties. All Camphills operate in accordance with Steiner belief, they are Anthroposophical care homes and, as registered care homes, are subject to routine inspections by Social Services. The agency responsible for such inspections in Wales is the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW).

A CSSIW Inspection Report undertaken in 2007 informs that many of Coleg Elidyr Camphill’s clients were prescribed and taking homeopathic medicines, prescriptions were courtesy of an unnamed anthroposophical doctor.

Readers can find the proof of this by downloading the full Inspection Report via the blog’s boxnet widget (bottom right of the left hand panel options on this page) and searching on the term ‘homeopathic’ within the document or by reading page 16 of the document. The Inspection Report is no longer available from the CSSIW website.

There are potential legal outcomes for me here in that the use of CSSIW information within their Inspection Reports is severely restricted. I’d need the written permission of the Welsh National Assembly to even quote what the conditions are. Prescription of homeopathic medicines to vulnerable people in care is in my opinion a legitimate concern of public interest and I have published this post on that basis.

This recent Guardian report quotes Prof John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, telling a Commons science and technology committee

“I have made it completely clear that there is no scientific basis for homeopathy beyond the placebo effect and that there are serious concerns about its efficacy”

The Guardian also reports Prof Beddington as saying ministers agreed to fund homeopathy on the grounds of “public choice”, despite there being “no real evidence” that the remedies work.

It’s my contention that the element of choice for some of our most vulnerable citizens, residents in Anthropsophical care homes, is absent. Followers of this blog will remember an earlier post published here last year covering the role of Anthroposophical doctors within Anthroposphical (aka Steiner, Steiner Waldorf) schools and within Camphills. It’s worth quoting from that post

People in need of care but without parents or family will not have chosen a care home; Social Services will have made the placement on their behalf…They’ll be without parents or family gauging their day to day nuances in behaviour, the nuances that signal the general well being (or otherwise) of a person. In Anthroposophical settings, those day to day signals will be interpreted by Anthroposophical carers and physicians in light of Steiner beliefs and, if deemed appropriate, the resident treated with an Anthroposophical remedy.

At Coleg Elidyr Camphill many residents were prescribed quack homeopathic medicine by an Anthroposophical doctor. It is unclear as to how many of the residents decided to opt for a quack remedy themselves as distinct from having had the decision made for them. Whatever the situation, it should be remembered that Coleg Elidyr is only one of many Camphills here in UK and abroad and that all Camphills operate in accordance with Steiner’s Anthroposophical beliefs (see here eg).

A brief description of the tools of the trade of a Camphill can be found within this online pdf . Originally written in 1999 by Dr Nick Blitz (who operates within Irish Camphills) the document is available via a South African Camphill, such is the timelessness and uniformity of approach amongst Camphills globally. I quote from the document Dr Nick’s overview of the range of therapies available at Camphill.

“Besides homeopathic and herbal medicines, the spectrum of therapies available at Camphill is truly impressive covering therapeutic art, therapeutic music, eurythmy, which is a form of movement therapy, play therapy and counselling, rhythmic massage and hydro therapy, and also riding therapy”

Wow Dr Nick, that truly is impressive. After reading that and other recent documentation we shouldn’t be surprised to find Anthropsophical care homes such as Coleg Elidyr practicing quack medicine and ‘alternative’ therapies on the people they are caring for, it would be surprising if they didn’t. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be Anthropsophical would they.

Camphills have always been an attractive option for Social Services looking for care placements. Camphills rely heavily on volunteer labour and so with lower overheads can offer much better value for money than can their mainstream or state run equivalents. Social Services and other cash-strapped agencies seeking value for money when carrying out their Duty of Care will surely find Camphill placements an increasingly attractive proposition, especially so in the current cycle of massive budget cuts.

Sadly, Prof Beddington and other critics of homeopathic quackery and its availability on the NHS remain reticent on the matter of state funding Anthroposophical care homes. Hopefully this post with its proof of use of quack medicines on vulnerable people in a care home will stimulate interest and debate and help change things for the better.