Sunday, August 23, 2009

Controversy in British Pain Society: PT president ousted

BPS = British Pain Society
BMJ= British Medical Journal
NICE = National Institute for Clinical Excellence

Here is NICE outraged by ousting of BPS President in the BMJ, dated July 23.

"We write to express our outrage at the British Pain Society’s vote to force their President, Professor Paul Watson, out of office because some members disagreed with a recommendation in NICE’s recent guideline on low back pain which he helped develop.

The BPS’s sustained campaign against this highly respected pain management and rehabilitation expert is professional victimisation of the very worst kind. That it has now culminated in the BPS forcing an exemplary expert out of office, is shameful.

All NICE guidelines are developed by independent clinical and patient experts who give up their time and expertise, over a two year period, to produce robust, evidence-based guidance. It is totally unacceptable for guideline developers to be singled out in this way and have their professional integrity called into question, simply because some groups don’t like a robust, evidence-based recommendation that has been developed by a group of independent experts.

The guideline developers’ only aim is to help improve the care and treatment of people with specific conditions by highlighting gold standard approaches based on the available evidence. The BPS is clearly admitting that they do not accept evidence-based medicine. Moreover, the Society’s actions fly in the face of the comment made in a recent High Court judgement. At a judicial review of NICE’s chronic fatigue syndrome guideline in March this year, at which the judge dismissed the claims in their entirety, he particularly highlighted the importance of health experts to be able to express their opinions without fear of retribution.

The BPS has acted dishonourably in making their own President a scapegoat for the fact that some of its members refuse to accept that there is not the scientific evidence to support their interventions. It is a sad day for freedom of experts to express views, for evidence-based medicine, and for the ideals of the medical profession.

Yours faithfully,

Sir Michael Rawlins, Professor Peter Littlejohns"

It's worth reading through all the letters in the BMJ link. Rarely are PTs involved in public politics and turf battles at levels such as this. The story involves a PT and it involves pain, so I find it all very interesting. There appears to have been somewhat of a coup by an organized group of doctors concerned over supposedly evidence-based guidelines which might have affected their own livelihoods, or at least what they consider to be their turf...

I find it all a bit bewildering at the moment, as I only learned about it this morning. But I'm curious and plan to read through it all again.

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