‘The medical untouchables’

The following is a recent opinion piece by Dr Des Spence published in the British Journal of General Practice.

I had been lined up to do the media interviews on BBC Scotland in relation to petition PE1651. However, on the day, due to changed travel arrangements, I was not available. Dr Des Spence was interviewed instead and did a better job than I could have done.

As an NHS doctor and specialist, I fully support this petition (PE1651) which calls on the Scottish parliament “to urge the Scottish Government to take action to appropriately recognise and effectively support individuals affected and harmed by prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal.”

I have submitted my response.

I feel it would be helpful to hear the views of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and in particular, how this matter might be considered as part of Realistic Medicine.

Three recent posts by me demonstrate the scale of competing financial interests in medical education in the UK. If you have a moment, you should have a look. Perhaps you might then share the worry that I have about this matter:

I have previously raised my own petition, PE1493, which the Scottish Public has supported. This was a petition for a Sunshine Act for Scotland, to make it mandatory for all financial conflicts of interest to be declared by healthcare professionals and academics.

My petition, supported by the public, had no support from “Realistic Medicine”. The public has had no update from the Scottish Government on my petition in 18 months. My view is that this is a shocking failure of governance and would seem to demonstrate a lack of respect for democracy.

5 Replies to “‘The medical untouchables’”

  1. Thank you to Peter Gordon for supporting our petition to the Scottish Parliament and for sharing Des Spence’s most forthright article in BJGP. I am one of the patients who has lost an entire life to benzodiazepines and antidepressants. See my response to Des Spence. At age 63, I am off all drugs, trying very hard to cope with the realisation that I was duped and betrayed by a profession I trusted. I am trying very hard not to be bitter but I don’t think I have the strength to be otherwise. It seems that the pharmaceutical industry calls the shots and the medical profession falls into line. Governments stand by and do nothing or they simply make matters worse. In the meantime, patients like myself struggle from day to day trying to inject some meaning into a life that was robbed of all joy while our doctors deny all knowledge of the reasons for our plight. It surely is the greatest medical deception of recent decades and one that is now unforgiveable.

  2. Dear Fiona,
    Thank you for this. I am a little more hopeful than I was when I first set out expressing concerns about the validity of much of the prescribing ‘science’ of recent times.

    I am a little more hopeful thanks to real-world experience (evidence) being recognised as not “inferior” to numbers.

    Here, your voice matters equally with any “expert”.

    I am less hopeful about what I consider as professional anosognosia.

    In my view, science is not science without philosophy.

    aye Peter

    1. Thank you, Peter. When there is no reliable information from the drug companies or the medical journals, it makes it very difficult. If clinical guidelines are not based on accurate information, where does that leave doctors and patients? We are all dealing with so much misinformation. For me, there was ample evidence that benzodiazepines were dreadful drugs but that was ignored in my case. Some people ask why I didn’t know myself what was wrong. Hand on heart, I had no idea it was the drug. Only when I came off the drug did I realise what had happened. I knew about the side effects of course but always imagined I had this “depressive” illness and that the drug side effects would only make a marginal difference. No doctor ever discussed it with me. No doctor ever realised how terrible my life was. No one ever suggested it could be the drug. I now find this very hard to accept. If patients have to work out everything for themselves it makes me wonder why we have professionals. But to work it out with a suppressed brain is extremely difficult. If the doctor does not understand what is happening and the patient does not understand either …. where does that leave us? I was first sedated, then brainwashed into thinking I had some sort of an illness that I could not recover from. I am just fortunate I did not think this for the rest of my life. I am glad you are a little bit hopeful, I am too. The internet has allowed patients to come together as never before and I don’t think our voices can be silenced any longer.

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