An independent charity: for science and integrity in healthcare

History

The idea behind HealthWatch was first put to journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross in the 1980s by the eminent cancer surgeon Professor Michael Baum. “Michael told me about some tragic cases he’d seen at his breast cancer clinic — women whose condition had disintegrated into suppurating sores because they'd shunned conventional treatment in favour of various alternative therapies that were just not working”.

Nick Ross was among a small group of professionals who met to share Professor Baum’s concern at patients risking their health, not to mention wasting their money, on unproven treatments. HealthWatch was born, with Nick appointed joint president with Michael O'Donnell.

HealthWatch Inaugural Meeting

Inaugural meeting

Its inaugural meeting was held on 1 November 1988 at The Old Bell Tavern in Fleet Street, followed by gatherings at the Royal Society of Medicine. Finally a committee was elected towards the end of the first year whose members included the pathologist Professor Vincent Marks, the medical nutritionist Professor John Garrow, lawyers Diana and Malcolm Brahams, and medical journalist Caroline Richmond.

The original name was the Campaign against Health Fraud, but it was changed to HealthWatch at our second AGM, held on 12 July 1990.

Today

While initially concerned with unproven treatments, over the years HealthWatch has widened its area of concern and now promotes evidence and integrity in all forms of medicine and healthcare. Being completely independent, HealthWatch is able to oppose poor evidence whether it is found in alternative remedies, clinical research, pharmaceutical products, government-run programmes, or the media.

Nick Ross continues as HealthWatch’s president. Its patrons are Dr Margaret McCartney, comedian Robin Ince, Professor Steve Jones FRS, Sir Michael Rawlins and Lord Dick Taverne.

For press and other enquiries, please contact us.

What is HealthWatch?

HealthWatch was registered in the UK as a charity in July 1991 (Registered Charity no. 1003392).

All our members and committee are volunteers.

We are not associated in any way with the government initiative 'Healthwatch England'.

What are the objects of HealthWatch?

The objects of the charity are the advancement for the public benefit of medical knowledge, training and care in all its branches and in particular the development of good practices in the assessment and testing of treatments and the conduct of clinical trials generally and the promotion of high standards of health care by practitioners.

What does HealthWatch do?

We publish a quarterly newsletter with interesting essays, news and comment on evidence-based medicine.

We present an annual award to an individual who has helped promote evidence and truth in medicine.

We run the HealthWatch Student Prize competition which challenges the ability of students of medicine and allied professions to assess clinical trial protocols.

We host public debates on topics of interest.

We are proud to have been able to lend our support to those whose careers and livelihoods have been jeopardised by their speaking out against misconduct in clinical trials.

What is HealthWatch's constitution?

Who pays for HealthWatch?

We rely primarily on our members' subscriptions.

We have received generous donations from a number of individuals & charitable trusts.

We are independent of industry and receive no funding from pharmaceutical companies.

We are grateful to Cambridge University Press for their sponsorship of our student prize competition for critical appraisal of clinical research protocols.

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