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2012 Letter to the Independent on harassment of researchers

Discussion in 'Historical Documents' started by Hutan, Oct 2, 2023.

  1. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    IoS letters, emails & online postings (2 December 2012)
    https://www.independent.co.uk/voice...-online-postings-2-december-2012-8373777.html

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME is a debilitating condition affecting some 1 per cent of the UK population (“ME: bitterest row yet in a long saga”, 25 November). We believe this serious illness needs improved treatments and care, and that research is central to making this happen.

    However, researchers in the field have been the target of a campaign to undermine their work and professional credibility. This harassment risks undermining research in the field, preventing the development of new treatments and discouraging specialist clinicians from entering the field. We fear that this may have resulted in patients not receiving the best treatments or care – staying ill for longer and not being able to live their life to its full potential.

    So it is with sadness that we read in The Independent on Sunday reports of false allegations made against Simon Wessely - one of the few UK clinicians with a specialist interest in treating CFS/ME and someone who has done pioneering research in the field. Ironically, it was because of accusations like this that Professor Wessely received the award in the first place.

    Professor Peter White, Professor of Psychological Medicine, Queen Mary University of London

    Professor Michael Sharpe, Professor of Psychological Medicine, University of Oxford

    Dr Esther Crawley, Reader in Child Health, University of Bristol

    Professor Stephen Holgate CBE, MRC Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology, University of Southampton


    Professor Rona Moss-Morris, Head of Health Psychology, King’s College London

    Dr Charlotte Feinmann, Reader , UCL

    Professor Hugo Critchley, Chair in Psychiatry, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

    Dr Brian Angus, Reader in Infectious Diseases, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of oxford

    Dr Steven Reid, Clinical Director for Psychological Medicine, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust

    Professor Patrick Doherty, Professor of Rehabilitation, York St John University


    Professor Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research, University of Southampton

    Dr Maurice Murphy, HIV Consultant, Barts Health NHS Trust

    Professor Tim Peto, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

    Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, Chair, Public Health Wales, Cardiff University

    Dr Alastair Miller, Consultant Physician, Royal Liverpool University Hospital

    Professor Diane Cox, Professor of Occupational Therapy, University of Cumbria

    Professor Jonathan Sterne, Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, University of Bristol

    Dr Margaret May, Reader in Medical Statistics, University of Bristol

    Professor George Davey-Smith, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Bristol

    Dr Jade Thai, Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol

    Dr Gabrielle Murphy, Clinical Lead Physician, Fatigue Service, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

    Dr Hazel O'Dowd, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and CFS/ME Team Leader, Frenchay Hospital Bristol


    Dr Brian Marien, Director, Positive Health

    Professor Willie Hamilton, Professor of Primary Care Diagnostics, University of Exeter

    Dr Selwyn Richards, Consultant Rheumatologist, Poole Hospital NHS Trust

    Professor Alison Wearden, Professor of Health Psychology, University of Manchester

    Professor Trudie Chalder, Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London.
     
    Louie41, Kitty, Ash and 4 others like this.
  2. SNT Gatchaman

    SNT Gatchaman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    We believe this serious illness needs improved treatments and care, and that biomedical research is central to making this happen.

    However, biomedical researchers in the field have been the target of a campaign to undermine their work and professional credibility. This harassment risks undermining research in the field, preventing the development of new treatments and discouraging specialist clinicians from entering the field. We fear that this may have resulted in patients not receiving the best treatments or care – staying ill for longer and not being able to live their life to its full potential.

    Signed, everyone else.
     
    Louie41, rvallee, Arnie Pye and 19 others like this.
  3. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

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    :)

    (everyone except Paul Garner, who seems to have been a bit late coming to the full-on BPS party, and Simon Wessely, who could hardly have signed that 2012 letter saying how wonderful and brave he is, that's what he has acolytes for.)

    Edit - oh, probably a few others too - see the Anomalies paper. Maybe the Independent had a limit on how many signatures could be attached to a letter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2023
    Louie41, Arnie Pye, Kitty and 10 others like this.
  4. bobbler

    bobbler Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Interesting. Given some sort of three-line-whip I imagine was involved for those with the career aspirations most dependent, I'm struck at how short and geographically clustered/niche the list of 26 people is actually. A lot of Bristol, Oxford and King's with a few from niche depts of Southampon, Sussex, Manchester, Cardiff. Worth noting the massive psychology departments that are present at many other large universities, certainly back then, don't feature?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2023
    Louie41, alktipping, Kitty and 10 others like this.
  5. bobbler

    bobbler Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I found the following from Margaret Williams whilst searching for what this letter has termed as 'false allegations' but history has now taught me in this means I could actually be looking for anything: http://www.margaretwilliams.me/2012/arise-sir-simon.pdf

    I'm not sure that I'm any the wiser in this particular question, but I guess that's the point of the PR

    However, If all correct this article goes onto some highly fascinating notes about his approach to Gulf War Syndrome:

    My bolding - sorry but I couldn't help but note the whiff of familiarity in this from e.g. BPSm's current suggestion that the 'recovery anecdotes from those who say they have recovered' should be focused on via Recovery Norge/Norway etc.

    I just can't help but think how can someone think that is a contribution to epidemiology? Sounds rather familiar of seeming to focus on not investigating or getting to the bottom of and almost avoiding the ability for anything to be found?
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2023
    Amw66, alktipping, Arnie Pye and 8 others like this.
  6. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME ME/CFS is a debilitating condition affecting some 1 per cent 0.4% of the UK population (“ME: bitterest row yet in a long saga”, 25 November). We believe this serious illness needs improved treatments and care, and that research is central to making this happen.

    However, some misguided and prejudiced researchers in the field have been the target instigators of a campaign to undermine their work and professional patients' credibility. This harassment risks undermining research in the field patients' health, preventing the development of new treatments and discouraging ethical and competent specialist clinicians from entering the field. We fear that this may have resulted in patients not receiving the best treatments or care – staying ill for longer and not being able to live their life to its full potential.

    So it is with sadness that we read in The Independent on Sunday reports of false allegations made against a prize being awarded to Simon Wessely - one of the few too many UK clinicians with a specialist interest in treating CFS/ME ME/CFS with ineffective and harmful treatment and someone who has done pioneering unscientific research in the field. Ironically, it was because of accusations against patients like this that Professor Wessely received the award in the first place.
     
    obeat, Amw66, Robert 1973 and 15 others like this.
  7. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

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    Everyone who signed that letter, and Wessely himself of course, should be ashamed of themselves, and should be barred from having anything to do with ME/CFS for ever. Sadly, they are mostly still in post over a decade later.
     
  8. Sean

    Sean Moderator Staff Member

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    On his own admission, in his official study of Gulf War veterans, Wessely performed no clinical examination or laboratory investigations.

    Just following in the grand tradition of psychosomatics. See Beard & McEvedy, 1970 (a & b).
     
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  9. Kitty

    Kitty Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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  10. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    He has? Because he made a few comments about his research some years ago, can't remember where, and he didn't have anything to mention other than he thought it was depression, then realized it isn't, even though this is what most MDs believe, and that they renamed it CFS, which is one of the worst thing to have happened. Which is obviously neither pioneering nor an accomplishment. And now I guess they're going with syndromes, plural. Or whatever.

    Not only didn't he pioneer anything, he didn't actually contribute anything. I know this is an old letter, but even Wessely can't name an actual accomplishment. Which is normal since there has been zero progress thanks to ideologues like Wessely. Although now with Long Covid it's clear that the problems are far deeper and in the whole profession.
     
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  11. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Also, of course the allegations were false. The ones made by Wessely and his gang anyway.
    Allegations which later morphed into being trolled on the Internet, which even they walked back. And still the threats are repeated to this day, even though they were debunked.
     
    Sean, Amw66, bobbler and 5 others like this.

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