THE AUTUMN 2015 issue of the HealthWatch Newsletter should be dropping onto members' doorsteps any moment now!
Non-members can now read the highlights of this latest newsletter online here. Sofia Hart's news report on HealthWatch's participation in September's Skeptics Congress appears in full, along with news on the latest incarnation of Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bill. As always you can also read teaser intros of our latest articles, which are enjoyed by our subscribing members.
If you'd like to read the latest HealthWatch Newsletter in full, join us by becoming a member of HealthWatch and a supporter of science and integrity in medicine.
All HealthWatch newsletters become fully open access 12 months after original publication.
Congratulations to Andrew Fulton, student of dentistry at Barts and the London! He is to receive first prize and a cheque for £500 as a winner in the UK-wide HealthWatch Student Prize competition in which students are invited to show their skills in assessing research protocols. Runners up Wong Li Chin and Vivek Vijay, who are both medical students at University College London, will each receive £100.
The three London students will receive their prizes from journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross at an awards ceremony held at The Medical Society of London on Tuesday 20th October. The presentation of the student awards will form part of an evening programme in which Dr Mark Porter MBE, GP and presenter of BBC Radio 4 flagship medical series “Inside Health”, will also receive an award for his media work which spans 23 years – as long, in fact, as the charity HealthWatch has been in existence.
Open annually to nursing and medical students from across the UK, the HealthWatch Student Prize is part of HealthWatch’s campaign to create awareness amongst healthcare providers, the general public and the media that well-designed clinical trials are the best way of producing effective treatments.
The competition, which is generously sponsored by Cambridge University Press, requires entrants to read and critique plans for four hypothetical clinical trials. This year the research topics included ideas for experiments testing Omega 3 supplement for children’s reading skills, and bee venom for rheumatoid arthritis.
The prize-winning entries critically appraised the quality of the protocols, providing reasons why the results would or would not stand up in the scientific community.
HealthWatch committee member and organiser of the competition Walli Bounds, herself a clinical research scientist at University College London, said, "It is essential that our future doctors and nurses are taught the key features of well-designed clinical trials, so they can distinguish between valid research findings and poor-quality or misleading results. This competition aims to encourage students to test their knowledge about what proper scientific testing entails, and thus lead to better patient care."
Dr Mark Porter MBE, GP and presenter of BBC Radio 4 flagship medical series “Inside Health”, is to receive the 23rd HealthWatch Annual Award. Mark will be in conversation with HealthWatch president, the journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross, on the subject of “EBM for the people – the importance of spreading the word”, at the 2015 HealthWatch open meeting and Annual General Meeting on 20th October at the Medical Society of London. 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 Nick Ross.
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 for AGM notice 2015 and submitting completed form as soon as possible to reserve your place. Contact point for dinner reservations is David Bender, HealthWatch Secretary.
What: HealthWatch's annual Open Meeting and Annual General Meeting
Where: The Medical Society of London, 11 Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, London W1M 0EB (nearest Underground Bond St or Oxford Circus)
When: Tuesday 20th October 2015
19:30 Presentation of Student Prize
19:40 Presentation of 23rd annual HealthWatch Award, followed by Mark Porter in conversation with Nick Ross: “EBM for the people – the importance of spreading the word”
All are welcome at the meeting, but only members may vote at the Annual General Meeting.
THE SUMMER issue of the HealthWatch Newsletter is in the mail to members. Non-members can now read the highlights online here, including the full-length news feature about recent coverage of Public Health England's controversial Age Extension Trial of breast cancer screening. Also in the news is the shocking story of a brilliant neurologist who has been sued by his own hospital after he turned whistleblower in an effort to improve services for his patients. Read details of your opportunity to take part in ongoing research and get published. As always you can also read teaser intros of our latest articles, which are enjoyed by our subscribing members. If you'd like to read these in full, join us by becoming a member of HealthWatch and a supporter of science and integrity in medicine.
Susan Bewley, professor of complex obstetrics at KCL, and HealthWatch Committee member, has written in The Conversation about the dangers of celebrities making pronouncements about getting screened for cancer: Celebrity campaigns are a distraction from the real risks of cancer screening
While they make compelling media stories, this kind of media coverage of screening is often incomplete and misleading.
It has helped to create unrealistic expectations of what screening programmes are and what they can deliver. On the one hand, there is a mistaken belief that screening only offers benefits. On the other, there is the myth that screening is only offered to certain age groups due to financial restrictions.
We believe women are put in harm’s way as they continue to be deceived about the nature of breast screening, especially whilst staff are not trained nor obliged to discuss and obtain formal, written consent for this unscientific and unethical randomised clinical trial.
The 2015 HealthWatch student prize competition for critical appraisal of clinical research protocols is now open. Click here for details.
|Date||Wednesday 4 March 2015|
King’s College London, Waterloo Campus, Room B5, Franklin-Wilkins Building, Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH
Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bill: Emancipating doctors and patients — or striking at the heart of evidence-based medicine?
For: Professor Sir Mike Rawlins, seconded by Daniel Greenberg
Against: Nick Ross, seconded by Nigel Poole QC
Chairman: Sir Peter Bazalgette
Doors open at 18:30
Debate 19:00 to 20:15
Drinks reception at 20:15
Admission is free but places are limited. Registration is essential.
The motion was resoundingly defeated by 130 votes, with only three voting for the motion and 13 abstaining.
Watch the debate:
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 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.
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.