NHS warker urgin Scottish Government tae introduce Sunshine Act

Rab Wilson, Scots poet, has this to say about my activism for a Sunshine Act for Scotland (the National, 8 March 2018):

OAN Thursday, March 22, 2018, a lane figure wull mak a lane protest at the doors o Holyrood pairliament in Embra. This man is Dr Peter Gordon, a man o touerin integrity wha hus warked tirelessly in NHS Scotland fir the past 25 years.

Whit’s the back story tae this protest? Twa, three year syne, in September 2013, Dr Peter J Gordon haundit in a peteetion til the Scottish pairliament (a thing that ony richt mindit citizen can dae) til the Holyrood peteetions committee urgin the Scottish Government tae introduce a Sunshine Act fir Scotland. Ye’d no be yer lane in wunnerin whit a Sunshine Act is! An ye maun think that no e’en the Scottish Government cuid guarantee sunshine wi or athoot an act!

Dr Gordon, wi his lang an dedicatit service til the NHS, is concernt that marketin bi the commercial sector (pharmaceutical industry, device makars, eemagin technologies) wis fir ordinar pairt o conteenuin medical education. Resairch hus aye-an-oan kythed that competin financial “conflicts o interest” micht affect the treatment deceesions doactirs recommend an that exposure tae industry promotional acteevity can lead tae doactirs aiblins recommendin worse treatments fir patients.

In the fore-end stages o the peteetion, when the evidence wis bein gaithert, the Cabinet Secretary fir Health an Sport wrote tae the Scottish Pairliament statin: “We can find no record of concerns having been raised with the Scottish Executive or Scottish Government about this issue before contact from Dr Gordon, the petitioner.” (February 24, 2015). This gien the idea that Dr Gordon wis aiblins bein unrealistic in his concerns anent a lack o transparency aboot competin financial interests in NHS Scotland.

A Sunshine Act wid mak it mandatory fir healthcare warkers (an howpfully academics an ither allied health professionals) tae aefauldly declare fully ony peyments, including peyments in kind. The airgument that Dr Gordon pit forrit wis that a single, searchable, independent register unnerpinned bi statute wid mak siccar o transparency, promote scientific integrity, reduce the potential fir hairm an save the NHS much needit siller! Whit’s no tae like!? A perfeckly practical an common sense arrangement that wid shairly benefit us aa!? Dr Gordon is alsae a film makar an ye can see here twa o’ his short films:

It can be airgued succinctly that existing guidance in NHS Scotland (issued bi the Scottish Government) haes failed oan this maitter fir mair as 15 years. Ither governance bodies, sic as the Royal Colleges, alsae hae questions tae answer oan relatit maitters. These owerlappin, but ineffective systems o governance duplicate costs an bureaucracy tae naebody’s gain! Soun familiar!?
Likesay, oan Thursday, March 22, 2018 Dr Gordon wull be staundin ootside the Scottish Pairliament wi his banner (see photie). This wull be a peaceful wan man protest, twa years tae the day that his petition fir a Sunshine Act wis closed bi the Holyrood petitions committee.

The petition closed oan a maist positive findin: that the Scottish public, in an offeeshul consultation (bi the Scottish Health Council) hud concludit that declarations o competin interests shuid be mandatory an recordit centrally in an open register.

Houanevir, as ye’ll nae dout hae aareadies jaloused fair reader, twa years hae slippit by an the Scottish Government haes providit nae meaningfu update wi regairds the the public consultation an its bindin outcome. This friens is the raison fir Dr Gordon’s peacefu protest.

It wis howpt that Scotland’s Chief Medical Oafficer’s campaign oan Realistic Medicine micht hae encouraged some action afore nou. The issue o competin interests hus bin pairt o a nummer o health inquiries sic as the mesh implant scandal, prescribed drug dependence, an the over-prescribin o antipsychotics tae wir aulder generation; aa ye’ll agree deeply tribblin issues o the greatest public interest.

Twa years doun the line an we hae heard nocht anent a Sunshine Act frae our Government. Yet ither kintraes hae introduced this mony years syne as they, quite richtly, cam tae the conclusion that sic transparency wis an essential pairt o fully informed consent!

In Henrik Ibsen’s seminal play An Enemy of the People set in 19th-century Norway, its protagonist Dr Stockmann hus discernt that a local factory is pussioning the toun’s watter supply. The factory is the toun’s main employer. Stockmann is the anely wan wi the integrity an moral strength tae publicly condemn the factory an its owners. Thus Stockmann becomes An Enemy of the People when in truth he is their anely saviour anent the pouerfu forces o daurkness pussionin their toun. The play hus strikin parallels wi oor warld the day; environmental issues versus economic interests; the precarious role o the whistleblower.

The play contains the fawmous quote: “The minority is always right!”

Oan Mairch 22 a minority wull be staundin his lane outside Holyrood. Hero, or Enemy o the People? Whit dae you think fowks?

Let us aa howp that 2018 will see a bit sunshine brak throu the cloods an shed some much needit licht oan murky ongauns in wir NHS.

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