Those who have followed my posts on Hole Ousia will know that I have petitioned the Scottish Parliament for a Sunshine Act. As an NHS doctor working in Scotland I was recently invited to this educational meeting. I thought it might be useful to use this as an example of the current situation for continuing medical education as I have encountered it in Scotland.
Although this flyer does not make clear, this educational meeting is sponsored by the Pharmaceutical industry. Professor Peter Passmore has been described as a “key opinion leader” in medical education both in the UK and internationally.
This list of declarations for Professor Peter Passmore is from 2008 as given to the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.
I do my best to avoid sponsored medical education but I do try to attend meetings organised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. For the Autumn 2011 Faculty Meeting I had suggested to the organisers that we might debate “early diagnosis of dementia” . I offered to take one side of the argument. However the organisers chose instead to invite Professor Peter Passmore.
Aware of Professor Passmore’s extensive promotion of drugs I chose not to go.
At this time, 2011, Scottish psychiatrists were invited to a number of educational meetings where Professor Passmore was widely promoting Memantine (EBIXA).
Just recently, the Scottish Parliament have recommended that a Register of lobbying of parliamentarians should be established. The following is an example from 2011:
In 2013, Professor Passmore was promoting SOUVENAID, a nutritional supplement for “early Alzheimer’s disease”:
By being paid to give educational meetings for CPD approved conferences and meetings Professor Passmore is by no means departing from accepted practice.
Whilst I was doing my research on NHS “hospitality registers” I wrote to Professor Passmore asking where he recorded his financial interests? I got this reply from NUTRICIA:
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) are currently introducing a register of payments to individual doctors: “The central platform”. Doctors can choose to opt-out from disclosing any payments received from industry.
Returning to the start of this post and the invitation to attend this latest sponsored medical education, I wrote to the organisers and had this reply from the Associate Director of Medical Education:
“All of our clinical association meetings are sponsored, if they were not we simply would not be able to provide these educational meetings as we have no budget for either the catering or the travel expenses of our speakers. We have moved away from sponsorship of teaching at foundation level, but for these hospital wide meetings, at which we are keen to attract speakers from out with Lothian, this is not possible at present.”
Those who follow my blog posts may recall that since Alexander McCall Smith’s recommendation to me of “A Pattern Landscape” I have been exploring patterns. Here I am reminded of NHS Forth Valley who are another NHS Board in Scotland who have no money to support medical education.
I am one of many scientists who has concerns that continuing medical education in Scotland is being funded by vested interests.