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Last month we wrote about the consultation by the Charity Commission on the charitable status of organisations that promote complementary and alternative therapies, such as those that promote homeopathy to treat HIV patients in Africa.
The consultation, which came as a result of our correspondence with the Charity Commission last September, is an opportunity for the public to share their thoughts on whether organisations who promote treatments that are not based in evidence should be granted charitable status.
Good Thinking has sent our own submission to the Charity Commission, sharing our thoughts on each of the questions asked, as well as highlighting issues we feel are important for the Commission to consider.
Good Thinking's submission - http://goodthinkingsociety.org/wp-conte ... -FINAL.pdf
http://goodthinkingsociety.org/our-subm ... es-review/
The Charity Commission should maintain a policy on CAM that reflects the best available evidence from independent research.
Treatments should not be promoted until there is reliable, robust and replicable evidence of its effectiveness.
New organisations should not be given charitable status if they promote either as alternative or complementary; either for the treatment of symptoms or the cure of disease treatments which do not have such evidence.
Complaints made about the practice of CAM charities should be judged against the new policy; organisations that fail to be able to offer evidence for the therapies they promote should be removed from the charities register until such time as good evidence is available
The current guidelines regarding CAM therapies – namely that evidence must come from peer reviewed journals and medical professionals, rather than from anecdote and media coverage is actually very sound, and would stand the Commission in good stead if it were routinely and rigorously applied when considering new charities and when handling complaints against existing charities. In part, this consultation came about because that standard of evidence was not followed in dealing with complaints egarding CAM charities.
Where a charity is registered or seeks to be registered for the promotion of therapies that do not meet the standards of evidence identified by the Commission’s guidelines, those charities should not be granted charitable status or should have their status revoked.
Organisations which promote treatments with claims that break the 1939 Cancer Act, that promote the sale or purchase of unlicensed medicines without prescription from a GP, or that breach the CAP Code for advertising, should not be given charitable status or should have their charitable status revoked.
There are likely to be some charitable organisations whose mission statement and general work is very good and reasonable, but who have one project or a small number of projects that involve the promotion of CAM therapies which are not based in sound evidence. The Charity Commission should offer guidance to these charities, and issue
warnings or take action where needed when these charities continue with projects that promote therapies not demonstrated to be beneficial.
Nobody is suggesting that organisations which would like to promote unproven or disproven therapies should be prevented from existing or from acting - they simply ought not to be granted charitable status.
Good Thinking Society