More on St Luke’s

A letter has been sent to all patients registered at the St Luke’s medical Centre and is to be found on their website.

The letter explains that no replacement anthroposophical doctors have been found for the two retiring GPs or for a third who is leaving for another job after just over a year.

It also mentions the closure of the Tuffley Surgery in Gloucester, also owned by St Luke’s Trust (read about this in other newsletters on the website).

After a discussion I had with a member of the “Patient engagement team” at Gloucestershire clinical commissioning group, it seems that they believe they have a duty to provide medical care for patients who use the St Luke’s medical practice, and this is why they are supporting St Luke’s in their efforts to “merge” with another local GP surgery.

GCCG are at pains to point out that they do not fund the alternative anthroposophical medicines offered at St Luke’s; if this is really the case, why do they feel it necessary to preserve St Luke’s? Why not simply offer the remaining patients another surgery? The number of GPs remains the same, and presumably the funding does too.

The claim from GCCG is in direct contradiction to the statement on St Luke’s website;

All the medicines, conventional or not, are available on the NHS

When I wrote to the NHS under the Freedom of Information Act I was informed that there was no way of knowing which aspects of medical care the NHS funding was paying for.

The GP salaries are paid for by the NHS so if they then prescribe Eurythmy or Art therapy the NHS certainly is paying them to do this. (And of course the therapists and other anthoposophical staff, who refer to conventional medicine in a derogatory way as “allopathic” benefit from this.)

One of the worst aspects of all this is that not only are treatments being offered which are useless, anthroposophical doctors, who view conventional medicine as spiritually harmful, may be directing patients away from medicine that they really need.

Some patients certainly are unaware that anthroposophy is the important aspect of what these doctors learn in their special training, and is influencing their diagnostic decisions.

For information about what  anthro doctors learn on their postgrad training course we do not have to look far; the three year course at British Postgraduate Training in anthroposophic Medicine is run in Stroud by Dr Michael Evans, and the timetable lists clay modelling, projective geometry (can anyone explain this and how it relates to medical care?), basic soul exercises, and spiritual pharmacy.

With all this expertise on our doorstep it is bizarre that there are no candidates for the vacancies at St Lukes.

My source at GCCG hinted that there are some facts not available to the public in this matter of saving St Lukes, so yet again, tax-payers are not allowed to know how decisions are made with regard to funding.

To those looking on who are concerned about the NHS, the decision to try to save St Luke’s makes no sense.



  1. Nick Nakorn

    Isn’t it astonishing that GCCG doesn’t feel uncomfortable about having funded so much snake oil for so long? One would have thought they would be setting up an inquiry to find out how they managed to throw so much public money at bogus treatments. Oh well. Thanks for keeping us up to date Helen, this site is really excellent and I, for one, really appreciate it.

    • Helen

      Thanks, Nick.
      With all the concerns expressed recently about the lack of funding for nurses and treatments in the NHS, you would think there would be more scrutiny of the way money is spent.

  2. Jim

    I suppose the fact that the anthroposophical doctors are also medically qualified, unlike so many other quacks, does make it easier for them to justify NHS funding.

    I do wonder – do anthro docs start off as normal docs then get the anthropologist bug later or do they start off anthro and undertake training in the medicine they disparage as a purely cynical exercise in deception?

    • Helen

      Jim – I share your incredulity about these doctors who must be rational people on some level, but who are willing to accept the kind of complete and utter nonsense espoused on the postgrad training course. If you look at the course outline page on that website it is just totally baffling that they can take this kind of stuff seriously.

      We have speculated before I think about the motives of these doctors, and I suppose there must be a variety of paths to this unfortunate profession of anthroposophical medicine. Some may come to it after qualifiying as some qualified teachers get caught up in Steiner education.
      Remember the retired doctor who wrote into the Stroud News defending Steiner education?
      I don’t know if he worked as an anthroposophical doctor or not, but if you go through a Steiner education it seems you can learn about biology but still believe Steiner’s teaching that the heart is not a pump and that people can have “no skin” and that there are 12 senses,(as explained by “fairy dust teaching“) and that there are etheric and astral bodies etc.
      It could be “compartmentalisation” as Jerry Coyne, who wrote “Faith versus Fact”, has described; the ability of some people to accommodate both science and religion in their everyday lives. There are a number of scientists who are religious, but this is not because the two are compatible, but because some people are willing to close off each one from the other according to what they are doing at the time.
      In the case of anthroposophical doctors not only have they managed to compartmentalise their beliefs and their understanding of biology but they also have been convinced that Steiner’s ideas represent a convincing explanation for how the human body, and indeed all of life on earth, works.
      It is a strange phenomenom, and can really only be explained by the acceptance that anthroposophy is a cult.

      • Jim

        Usually compartmentalising works by saying that the two domains don’t overlap in any way so there is no conflict. So a scientist may accept all that physics says about the origins of the known universe and still believe in a god of some sort. But it seems harder to understand how an anthro doctor could accept Steiner’s view of the heart function and the evidence of their own eyes as to how it actually works. Including for example recent developments in artificial hearts that do not involve a pulse, thus disproving their notions of a rhythm keeping function.
        Maybe they think that conventional physiology is correct on a purely physical plane but Steiner’s theories apply on a spiritual plane, the imaginary bodies they are keen on, and thus conflict is avoided. But if so why do they waste so much effort on bogus physical explanations?
        Maybe all it means is that the intelligence needed to master a technical subject like medicine is unrelated to that required to avoid gullibility.

        • Helen

          I’d like to know how many anthro doctors have been to Steiner schools. What on earth would make someone sign up for the postgrad course otherwise? It must become clear early on that it’s not just what most people would call “alternative medicine” – it’s much more creepy than that.
          Perhaps some people are attracted by the self-development aspect of it – meditation and reciting special mantras are part of the course, I see.
          “The course…gives participants the chance to experience and reflect on certain spiritual practices” and
          “…the doctor’s own self-knowledge” is supposed to be relevant, as with Steiner teachers, who according to the SWSF are required do their own “inner work”.
          Wonder how the staff at Steiner Academy Bristol are getting on with that?

  3. David Clark

    Being a rhetorical tag, a reference to snake oil relies on empirical evidence to support a claim to effectiveness arising in a form of pre-scientific medicine. Sadly, this seems to be logical evidence of the muddled thinking that seems sadly to cloud much of these “debates”. No wonder that such exchanges go nowhere instead of bearing fruit.

    • Nick Nakorn

      ‘Bearing fruit’ is a rhetorical tag, a reference to ‘bearing fruit’ relies on empirical evidence to support a claim to effectiveness arising in a form of pre-scientific medicine. Sadly, this seems to be logical evidence of the muddled thinking that seems sadly to cloud much of these “debates”. No wonder that such exchanges go nowhere instead of bearing fruit…… oh….

  4. Helen

    David – do you and the other members of your anthroposophical study group in Leicestershire use the term “allopathic” to refer to mainstream medicine? Snake Oil is used in a similar way as a description for anthroposophic medicine by some of us who object to its use in an NHS medical centre.
    If the Glos clinical commissioning group were aware of the attitude of the Steiner people who run St Luke’s to mainstream medicine they would not be funding or supporting the centre in any way, I am sure.
    Shame they just do not have access to the relevant information – or at least the time to research anthroposophy properly.

  5. David Clark

    Hi. Thanks.

    Nick, for me, “bearing fruit” in this context would ideally describe a debate with consequences or outcomes, hopefully leading to some form of understanding (not necessarily agreement). My meaning here referred to the quality of “debate” rather than defence of a “school of medicine”. Being a sceptic myself for example, I find it only too easy to criticise dismissively in a way that avoids an (easy or challenging) exchange of views, missing an opportunity to learn about things that annoy me.

    Helen, Over time, members of the anthroposophical study group in Leicestershire, have been scientists, professionals, artists, teachers and homemakers. As you may imagine, our discussions on scientific matters were both heated and illuminating at times. To be brief, I reckon that on such occasions we researched anthroposophy, precisely by experiencing, exploring and understanding these conflicts and difficulties.

    Among other choices, I have used the allopathic/homoeopathic distinction in conversation with both my mainstream G.P. and an anthroposophical doctor about appropriate (for me as an individual patient) treatment options and medication. According to my quick Google Search just now, the distinction refers to different effects of medical substances on disease treated rather than different forms of medical knowledge or praxis.

Any thoughts?

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