The Royal Society of Medicine and sponsored medical education

On a regular basis, as an NHS doctor, “journals” such as this find there way into my mailing. This happens without my say. I have not found a way to simply opt out from this “educational” material.

In this journal, ‘GM: Peer-Reviewed Medicine for the 50+ patient’ a four page, centrally placed promotion was for a conference to be held in the Royal Society of Medicine:

A number of the topics in this conference seem to be closely aligned to the glossy full-page adverts in the GM journal itself (see screen-show below of the actual adverts). At least one session of this conference is sponsored by BAYER Healthcare but no further details are given. It just says “Sponsored session”.

There are no declarations of competing financial interest given for any of the speakers or Chair of this event hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine. One can of course look up the voluntary register “Disclosure UK” but not all may have submitted. The Chair has disclosed but not under the name that he uses as a well-known “key opinion leader”.

The Royal Society of Medicine describes itself as “one of the country’s major providers of postgraduate medical education. Independent and apolitical, the Society provides a neutral platform for informed debate about important, often controversial, healthcare topics.”

The Royal Society of Medicine has a venerable history and has had a number of Honorary Fellows, including: Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Edward Jenner and Sigmund Freud.

Since 1910 the Royal Society of Medicine has had its home on the corner of Wimpole Street and Henrietta Place, London. The current President is Professor Sir Simon Wessely.

The first tab on the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) web-platform is for ‘EVENTS’. This is what the “Royal Society” offers:

“The Royal Society of Medicine offers the opportunity to advertise to a large, yet highly targeted audience of members and non-members, all of whom are actively engaged in the medical field and medical education.

RSM events, as well as webinars and other online resources, provide specialist medical education across all the recognised specialties and deliver continuing professional development to doctors, dentists, nurses, veterinary surgeons and other healthcare professionals

The support received by generous sponsors allow the RSM to invite expert speakers, reach a wider audience and offer reduced rates to trainees, students and other members.

Nearly 30,000 delegates attended RSM events in the last academic year and the support of industry continues to be vital.”

I have spent some time looking for available RSM policies on governance of competing interests and public transparency but have not yet been successful. So today I have written to the Royal Society to ask for these policies and to establish where professionals and the public can reliably and accurately establish the full details of financial sponsorship of these events including all payments made to the speakers by industry. I will post here any reply that I receive.

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