29 October 2014
Media contact: Media
HealthWatch commentator: Susan Bewley, Honorary Professor of Complex Obstetrics, Kings College London
HealthWatch welcomes the publication of this report and congratulates the members of the committee for their efforts and patience in the process of hearing evidence, and for publishing a full and considered report.
In particular we would like to comment on the following recommendations, many of which reflect calls that HealthWatch has been making for some time now:
We agree that there should be clarification regarding the Government’s position regarding the extension of the breast screening programme, and the evidential basis for the Government’s position on this programme to be detailed.
There is no evidence to support extension of the programme. The age extension trial protocol is flawed and women are expected to give ‘implied’ consent based on false information. The NHS Breast Screening Programme has repeatedly been unwilling to engage in discussion of the shortcomings. Further, while we praise the work of Ann Mackie and the National Screening Committee, it is high time the trial management was called into question: the chief investigator is not medically or scientifically qualified, runs the national screening programme and also chairs the trial steering committee, and by obfuscation has perpetuated a dangerous lack of transparency in this trial. 1-5
The winners of the 2014 HealthWatch student prize competition for critical analysis of clinical research protocols have been announced. Click here for full details.
The 22nd winner of the annual HealthWatch Award is to be Simon Singh, the author, journalist and mathematician. As well as being an accomplished communicator of science, his award recognizes his courage in fighting a libel suit, at considerable personal cost, and in doing so inspiring the movement which has resulted in a new law: the 2013 Defamation Act.
Simon will address the audience at the 2014 HealthWatch open meeting and Annual General Meeting. The meeting will also include presentations of cheques for up to £500 each to the winners in the UK-wide HealthWatch Student Prize competition in which students of medicine and allied professions show their skills in assessing research protocols. Awards will be presented by journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross.
The 2014 HealthWatch AGM and awards will take place Thursday 30th October 2014 at The Medical Society of London, Lettsom House, 11 Chandos Street, London W1G 9EB (nearest underground station Oxford Street). The evening will begin with a reception at 6.30pm, with awards presentation at approximately 7.30pm.
Attendance at the meeting is free and open to all, but the presentation will be followed by an optional buffet dinner with wine at 8.45 p.m. at a cost of £45, apply by clicking here and submitting completed form.
The video of the March 2013 HealthWatch lecture in association with King’s College London can be watched here.
HealthWatch members were at a party, organised by Sense About Science, which was held in the Penderel’s Oak pub in Holborn, London, on 16th May 2013.
This is the pub where, on 18th May 2009, a group of well-known scientists, comedians and writers were assembled on the initiative of the lawyer David Allen Green, to object to a libel action against the science writer Simon Singh. This meeting led to a protest against the suppression of scientific debate, which grew into a wider campaign to reform the repressive, centuries-old libel laws. After a four-year campaign, involving thousands of people and hundreds of organisations, the old laws were overturned. The new Defamation Act became law on 25th April 2013.
HealthWatch has received a donation of £50,000 from a private individual who supports our aims and objectives, and who has no connection with any pharmaceutical company, nor any financial interest in any complementary or other therapy or treatment, to establish a research fund.
Applications are now invited for funding to support research projects that meet our aims and objectives. More details here.