WE SHARE profound concern about the proposed NHS prescription ban for homeopathic and herbal medicines, especially as those least able to afford them privately will be those most adversely affected.

Banning these medicines will save a measly £200,000 – i.e. a tiny fraction of the drugs budget for a single NHS General Practice, and less than 0.14 per cent of the UK-wide £141 million savings planned to be cut from the annual NHS prescriptions budget.

Further, the majority of homeopathic/herbal medicines cost significantly less than the allopathic medicines that would be required were these medicine options, that many patients favour, to be withdrawn.

A person’s freedom and right to choose her or his preferred therapeutic pathway should be an unalienable right, particularly when comparative costs are not an issue.

Furthermore, evidence of the cost-effectiveness of homeopathic/herbal medicines is growing, as is evidence that the judicious prescribing of such medicines by doctors can reduce the prescribing of other, far more expensive psychiatric, pain-killing and antibiotic drugs.

Neither economic nor evidential rationales exist, then, for ending the prescription of these medicines – raising suspicions that this proposal is related to the influence of pharmaceutical companies and campaigning organisations with fundamentalist medical beliefs, rather than to scientific or cost-saving considerations.

The adverse influence on the professional lives of many bona fide practitioners will also be considerable, having spent many years studying their craft (herbal medicine degrees typically take three years).

These proposals, in addition, have grave implications for the development of healthcare systems that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

You can support this vital campaign for medical freedom, and for the right to choose from a rich ecology of NHS treatment options, at bit.ly/2vIVha0

You can also write to the current Minister for Health, Jeremy Hunt, at mb-sofs@dh.gsi.gov.uk We strongly believe that homeopathic and herbal remedies should remain available on the NHS as a matter of patient choice; and that the historic principle should continue to be honoured whereby the NHS funds homeopathic treatments if doctors wish to prescribe them, and patients supporting the NHS through their taxes wish to receive them.

Dr Richard House, chartered psychologist, Stroud

Delny Britton, PhD, RSHom, professional homeopath, Stroud

CLLR Skeena Rathor, movement educator and physical therapist, Stroud

Dr David Drew, MP for Stroud

Brian Oosthuysen, Gloucestershire County Councillor

Dr Michael Evans, general practitioner

Pia Poulsen, therapist and concerned health service user Jay Ramsay, poet and therapist

Jojo Mehta, mother and environmental campaigner

Michael and Lorin Deason-Barrow, directors of Tonalis Music Centre

Graham Kennish, teacher

Gabriel Millar, teacher

Andrew Finebaum, teacher, Randwick Emily Cluer, teacher

Jo Woolley, counsellor/teacher, Stroud

Jonathan Swann, concerned citizen

Elizabeth Swann, concerned citizen

Richard Brinton, concerned citizen

Jehanne Mehta, concerned citizen

Robert Mehta, concerned citizen

Paul Halas, Stroud Greg Dance, dismayed again, Stroud

Abby Bass, concerned parent

Sheila Lisster, concerned citizen

Michael Stott Andrew Beard, Stroud

Wanda Lozinska, Stroud

Janice Garbutt, Gloucester

Mervyn Hyde, Gloucester

Mark Trotman, Gloucester