An independent charity for science and integrity in healthcare

Read the latest HealthWatch newsletter:  Issue 106, Autumn 2017

Sir Michael Rawlins


Sir Michael Rawlins has been chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) since its formation in 1999. In March 2013 he will become the new president of the Royal Society of Medicine. A medical doctor who went on to research safety and efficacy of pharmacological treatments as a professor at the University of Newcastle, Sir Michael chaired the Committee on Safety of Medicines in the 1990s. Amongst his numerous awards and achievements, he was knighted in 1999 for services to the improvement of patient protection from the side effects of medicinal drugs. He recently told the Guardian, “All young healthcare professionals, irrespective of whether they eventually undertake research themselves, need to know how to understand what really constitutes ‘evidence’ if they are to practice their profession, to the highest standards, in an ever-changing world.”

Declaration of interests

Prof Steve Jones


Steve Jones is emeritus professor of Human Genetics, at the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London; and president of the Galton Institute. An accomplished communicator on evolution and genetics, he appears frequently on radio and television and is a regular columnist for the Daily Telegraph. His academic career is distinguished by his elegant and continuing experimental work on the ecological genetics of snails and fruit flies. Steve Jones is the author of successful and influential books on science for the lay reader, including The Language of the Genes and Darwin’s Ghost.

Declaration of interests

Dr Margaret McCartney


Margaret McCartney is a GP in Glasgow who writes a weekly column for the BMJ, broadcasts for Radio 4's Inside Health, and is the author of The Patient Paradox - why sexed up medicine is bad for your health, and Living with Dying, finding care and compassion at the end of life. She is also a tutor at the University of Glasgow and chair of the Royal College of GPs Overdiagnosis group — for shared decisions in healthcare.

It's vitally important that we are honest about what we know and what we don't know in  healthcare — and to try and reduce uncertainties where we can. We need to be equally critical of orthodox and alternative medicine — the standard of evidence should be the same, otherwise people are needlessly harmed.

Declaration of interests

My declaration of interest is on Who Pays this Doctor? and on my blog.

Robin Ince


Robin Ince is a comedian, actor and writer, best known for co-presenting the award-winning BBC Radio 4 science/ comedy chat show “The Infinite Monkey Cage” with physicist Brian Cox. Dubbed an uber-geek for his rationalist and humanist views, he recently explained himself very sensibly in New Scientist: “I think it is a pity to live your life in ignorance and embrace that ignorance—for instance with ideas like intelligent design.” Ince organises highly rational events at the Bloomsbury Theatre and at the Hammersmith Apollo, such as the successful seasonal science, comedy and music show Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. In his new one-man show he ponders the benefits of being self-conscious in a vast universe.

Declaration of interests

Lord Dick Taverne


Dick Taverne is a Liberal Democrat Member of the House of Lords. He was elected as Labour MP for Lincoln in 1962–1972 and was a Minister in the Home Office and Treasury between 1966 and1970. In 1973 he was re-elected as independent social democrat MP for Lincoln until 1974. In 1972 he launched the Institute for Fiscal Studies and was its first director, later chairman, until 1983. After appointment to the Lords in 1996, he founded the charity Sense About Science in 2002 and was its chairman until 2012. He is the author of The March of Unreason, Science, Democracy and the New Fundamentalism (2006) and Against the Tide — Politics and Beyond, a Memoir (2014).

Why I support HealthWatch

I strongly support HealthWatch because it is one of the leading voices exposing bad science and promoting the formidable and vital task of improving the public understanding of science.

Declaration of interests

No further interests to declare.

For press and other enquires please contact us.

The elected members of the HealthWatch committee are also Trustees of the Charity. In addition there are committee members who are not Trustees, but who are co-opted for their specialist expertise.

President: Nick Ross


Nick is a journalist and campaigner and was one of the founders of HealthWatch. He is a veteran broadcaster whose credits included Crimewatch and many of the best-known news and current affairs programmes, live debates and coverage of politics and parliament. He was Broadcaster of the Year for his Radio 4 programme Call Nick Ross and many of his other shows and documentaries have won or been nominated for awards.

He is a Trustee of Sense About Science, Chairman of the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science at UCL and of the Wales Cancer Bank, is a member of the Royal College of Physicians Committee on Ethical Issues in Medicine, has twice been Chairman of the Royal Society Science Book Prize jury and has been a member of the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the government’s Clothier Committee (on the ethics of gene therapy), the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee, the NHS Taskforce and Health of the Nation Working Group and several other government committees and inquiries.

Declaration of interests

I do not believe there is anything that would affect my approach to HW; rather my commitment to the aims of HW is likely to colour my approach to the other tasks. But I suppose I should concede I have multiple interests that might be considered by others to affect the impartiality of my role in HealthWatch:
  • Voluntary commitments to boards and advisory committees of several health-related and bioethics charities and not-for-profit organisations.
  • Occasional paid work for, or involving, the Department of Health, NHS, health-related companies including the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.
  • Broadcasting and journalism sometimes concerning health issues.

Chairman: Dr James May


James graduated from Sheffield Medical School in 1997, and is now a GP principal in Kennington.

He has an MA in Bioethics from St Mary’s College in Twickenham, writing a dissertation on the mind-body problem in medicine, and he has a long-term interest in the history and philosophy of science.

Declaration of interests

I have no conflicts of interest. My income is entirely from work as a General Practitioner for the NHS.

Vice-Chairman: Professor Debra Bick


Debra is Professor of Evidence-Based Midwifery Practice at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery of Kings College London. She has a BA in History from the University of Newcastle on Tyne, MMedSci and PhD from the University of Birmingham. Her research interests are the impact of pregnancy and birth on women’s physical and psychological health; maternity service delivery and organisation; synthesis and translation of evidence to enhance maternal and infant health.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Treasurer: Anne Raikes


Anne is an Oxford maths graduate who qualified as a Chartered Accountant.

She has since acquired fifteen years’ experience as a fund manager for Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, specialising in asset allocation mainly for international corporate clients.

In her spare time she is a keen choral singer who also enjoys skiing, tennis and walking.

Declaration of interests

I have no conflicts of interest. My income is entirely from work in fund management which has no connection with anything related to the health service.

Secretary: Professor David A Bender


David is Emeritus Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at University College London. His research has been mainly in the area of tryptophan, niacin and vitamin B6, and especially the role of vitamin B6 in steroid hormone action. His main activity is teaching, especially to medical students.

He has written Amino Acid Metabolism (John Wiley & Sons, 1975, second edition 1985); Nutritional Biochemistry of the Vitamins (Cambridge University Press, 1992, 2nd edition 2003); and Introduction to Nutrition and Metabolism (UCL Press, 1993, third edition CRC Press, 2002). Jointly with his father, Prof Arnold E Bender he has written Food Tables (OUP 1986); Food Labelling (OUP 1991); Nutrition for Medical Students (John Wiley & Sons, 1982); A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition (OUP 1995, third edition 2008); Nutrition – a Reference Handbook (OUP 1997); Food Tables and Labelling (OUP, 1999); Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology, 8th Edition, (Woodhead Publishing 2006). Jointly with Brian Barker he was editor of the 4th edition of Vitamins in Medicine (William Heinemann Medical, 1980, 1982).

He has also written a series of computer programs for use in schools and colleges: The Foods You Eat for nutrient analysis of diets and Biochemical Simulations, a series of computer simulations of laboratory exercises in biochemistry. He is an executive editor of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Declaration of interests

I am an employee of University College London, and receive an honorarium as a member of the executive editorial board of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. I receive royalties on a number of academic text books I have written or part-written and give occasional lectures to organisations outside the University.

Newsletter Editor: Mandy Payne


Mandy attends committee meetings, but is not a Trustee of the Charity

Letters for publication are welcome — please contact the Editor.

Declaration of interests

I have been producing the HealthWatch Newsletter since 1995 and am paid for my professional services for this. Any additional work I do for HealthWatch is as a volunteer.

Aside from HealthWatch UK, I am a freelance medical journalist and editor, and I work closely with Words & Science, Brussels providing editorial support and consultancy on good publications practice in medical research, for clients that include vaccines/pharma industry. I am an associate member of the Committee On Publication Ethics (COPE).

Membership Secretary: Kenneth Bodman


Kenneth attends committee meetings, but is not a Trustee of the Charity.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Professor Susan Bewley


Professor Susan Bewley is Professor of Complex Obstetrics at King’s College London and a self-employed obstetric expert and academic. She was Honorary Clinical Director Obstetrics, NHS London (2010–2013) and consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (1994–2011) where she was responsible for leading a highly regarded maternity unit and introducing innovative services, including perinatal mental health and domestic violence enquiry and advocacy (Mozaic). She chaired the RCOG Ethics Committee 2004–2007 and NICE guideline development groups (2012–date), has performed independent reviews of NHS maternity services and been an expert advisor to government. Her research centres on severe maternal morbidity, with over 300 publications including seven books. She has always been devoted to the cause of rational, empathic and evidence-based medicine and a 'critical friend' of HealthWatch and her own Royal College.

Declaration of interests

Prof Bewley's declaration of interest can be found here: Who pays this doctor?

Diana Brahams


Diane is a retired barrister, called to the bar in 1972. Has been a tenant in Old Square Chambers, Gray’s Inn since January 1991, and has now retired from practice. She specialised in medical negligence, personal injury and product liability claims. Editing Medico-Legal Journal since 1983 and legal correspondent to The Lancet from 1981 to 2001. Contributes to textbooks and journals. Founder member of HealthWatch and Concern for the Mentally Ill.

Declaration of interests

I am Editor of the Medico-Legal Journal.

Malcolm Brahams


Malcolm is a former chairman  of HealthWatch and a solicitor, was Honorary Treasurer of Concern for the Mentally Ill, Council member of the Medico-Legal Society. Published Commercial Leases (Collins, 1985) and Property (Croner Publications, 1994).

Declaration of interests

I am a member of Council of the Medico-Legal Society.

Dr John Illman


Dr John Illman is a former editor of General Practioner. He spent five years as medical correspondent on the Daily Mail and eight years on The Guardian as health editor. The immediate past chair of the Medical Journalists Asssociation, he divides his time between writing, lecturing and media consultancy work. He is a visting lecturer in medical journalism at the University of Westminster and is writing a series of books on mental health. His former titles include The Body Machine with Christiaan Barnard. He has received several awards.

Declaration of interests

John Illman runs a commercial consultancy, John Illman Communications. Clients include pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, the NHS, charities and representative bodies such as the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He is a PAYE employee of the University of Westminster and a freelance journalist, broadcaster and author. He was paid by the Research Defence Society (now known as Understanding Animal Research) to write the book: Animal Research in Medicine (2008 100 years of Politics, Protest and Progress: The Story of the Research Defence Society.

Keith Isaacson


Keith is a Senior Consultant Orthodontist currently consulting at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon. Formerly Chairman of Examiners for Orthodontics for the Royal College of Surgeons of England and formerly Chairman of the Medical Writers Group of the Society of Authors. Life Member of the British Orthodontic Society. He has lectured extensively in Europe and the Far East and co-authored four text books, which has been translated into 15 different languages. He is lead editor of the British Orthodontic Societies' Guidelines on Radiography.

Declaration of interests

Keith Isaacson receives payment for NHS consulting at the Great Western Hospital Swindon. He receives private income from consultation in Ireland. He is published by Reed Elsevier. He does not receive income from any commercial company. He does not own shares in any Pharmaceutical or medical equipment company.

Les Rose


Les is a freelance consultant clinical scientist, now mostly retired, and worked for over 35 years in managing clinical trials, training and advising clinical researchers, and evaluating results of trials. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Clinical Research, and a Life Fellow of the Society of Biology. He serves on the editorial boards of The Biologist, Focus on Alternative and Complementary Medicine (FACT), and the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. Les has a blog at, and tweets as @majikthyse.

Declaration of interests

I am a freelance clinical science consultant, and have pharmaceutical and other biomedical companies among my clients. I do not receive any material benefits for my voluntary work in support of evidence based medicine.

Alan Henness


Alan designed, created and maintains the HealthWatch website.

Alan is Director of the Nightingale Collaboration, which challenges misleading healthcare claims and was initially setup with funding from Dr Simon Singh.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Professor John Kirwan


John trained in Rheumatology at The Royal London Hospital, where he also undertook his MD thesis working on assessment techniques in rheumatoid arthritis. He coordinated the team that first showed unequivocally that glucocorticoids (often called “steroids”) are able to hold back the progress of rheumatoid arthritis. He was Head of the Academic Rheumatology Unit in Bristol from 1995 to 2014, and his research interests continue to centre on glucocorticoids (and new types of glucocorticoid treatment) and methods to engage patients as partners in research.

Professor Kirwan has also been instrumental in developing and testing new approaches to long term patient management, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis. Working in close collaboration with GP and nursing colleagues his unit developed the ‘direct access’ system for managing established disease, and have recently audited their NICE-compliant care pathway for newly diagnosed patients.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Coopted committee members

Walli Bounds


Walli Bounds trained as a Midwife and Family Planning Nurse Specialist. From 1965 until her retirement in 2001 she worked exclusively in contraceptive research, initially for the Family Planning Association and, after 1978 as Research Coordinator and Principal Research Fellow at the Margaret Pyke Family Planning Centre/UCL.

She conducted numerous clinical trials, especially on innovative barrier contraceptives, lectured internationally on ‘Good Clinical (Research) Practice’, and served on Medical Research Council and British Standards Institution Committees concerned with Microbicides development for AIDS/HIV prevention, and development of International Standards for contraceptive devices. She brings her particular interest in women’s health to HealthWatch, of which she is a founder member, and coordinates the student prize competition.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Tom Moberly


Tom is a medical journalist. He is currently editor of BMJ Careers, and has previously worked as clinical news editor at GP magazine, science reporter at Scrip World Pharmaceutical News, and as a news and feature writer at the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Declaration of interests

As editor of BMJ Careers, I am an employee of the British Medical Association. I am a member of the National Union of Journalists.

Jolene Galbraith


Jolene is a student representative.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Sofia Hart



Sofia is a student representative.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

James Illman


James is a medical journalist.

Declaration of interests

None declared.

Minutes of Annual General meetings can be found here.