Saturday, 24th November 2018
To: The Registrar of the Royal College of Psychiatrists,
21 Prescot St, Whitechapel, London, E1 8BB
Dear Dr Adrian James,
Resignation as a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
I am writing with a heavy heart as I have decided to resign from the Royal College of Psychiatrists after nearly 25 years of membership. Please accept this letter as my formal instruction of resignation.
The reasons behind my decision are:
(1) Evidence does not support the conclusion of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that “the relationship between the College and Pharma is distant” [Vanessa Cameron, previous CEO, December 2016] and that “College policies and procedures around declarations of interest are sufficiently robust” [Paul Rees, current CEO, June 2018]. As a direct consequence informed consent and realistic psychiatry are compromised.
(2) I am concerned that the core values of the Royal College of Psychiatrists are not always being upheld. It is my view that this has been revealed through the College approach taken to those who have shared less than positive, and sometimes harmful, effects of psychiatric interventions including prescribed medications.
I would urge the Royal College of Psychiatrists to support Sunshine legislation for the UK. The Royal College of Psychiatrists needs to carefully consider and address the harms associated with what the BMJ term “too much medicine”. Practising realistic psychiatry requires ethical considerations to be at the heart of all that we do.
I want to thank the College for giving me the opportunity to try to be the best doctor that I could to those who came to seek help at a time of need. I wish to close with a reference that was given for me at the time I applied for my first Consultant post:
“Dr Gordon’s clinical work was of the highest standard. Dr Gordon’s thoughtful, ethical approach to his duties was evident to all who worked with him. He is commended without reservation as an eminently suitable candidate for Consultant appointment.”
Dr Peter J Gordon
Update, 8 December 2018: The President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has confirmed that the College will not be responding to the issues of concern that I raised in my letter of resignation. Both the Vice President and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists have expressed concerns about my mental health. Unknown to me, the Vice President contacted my employers. I have now been asked to meet with the Medical Director for NHS West Lothian. I find it disappointing that College leads have not shown similar levels of concern for the values that I am trying to encourage in British Psychiatry. I am concerned that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has chosen to brick-up its windows. My published article on Iatrogenic Stigma was called 'Window Tax'.
Update, 9 January 2019: Occupational Health Assessment. "Thank you for asking us to meet with Dr Gordon. He attended the appointment in the occupational health department on 9 January 2019. This communication is written with his knowledge and his consent. We had a very detailed discussion. As you are aware, he is currently signed off work. From the information he provided and from the contents of your recent email, this ongoing absence from work is not in any way linked to concerns about his ability to safely perform his duties at work. Dr Gordon has been reflecting on long-standing views that he has held and the impact these have had over the years. We discussed frankly about the current situation, the potential options open to him and the steps he could take in the future. Dr Gordon plans to reflect on the content of our discussion."
Update 12 January 2019: I have had no reply to this letter (sent on the 22nd December 2018): Dear Dr Crichton, Dr James and Professor Burn, Forgive me writing on a Saturday morning. I am aware that the “HR Department” has instructed me not to. However I am now no longer a member of the College. I was disappointed to learn from Professor Burn that the College will not be responding to my concerns raised in my letter of resignation to Dr James on the 24th November 2018 (I have attached the original letter). Yet, at the same time concerns have been expressed by President Wendy Burn and Vice-President John Crichton about my mental health. The Vice-President has, I understand, spoken to my Medical Director about his concerns and I have now been invited to meet with him. I noted one of the issues of concern raised by Dr Crichton in his College Blog of this month: “If ways could be found now to encourage those approaching retirement to continue to contribute to the NHS part time – not to fill gaps but in posts which make the most of their experience – that could be the start of a model of how careers might look in the future when retirement ages are later.” My experience of raising concerns with the College has led me to the stage where I am considering my future within the profession. If the College is serious about retaining experienced staff I would encourage it to reflect upon its approach to respectful behaviour in relation to College values. I would be most grateful if the College would reconsider its decision not to respond to the concerns I raised in my original letter. Yours kindly Peter
Update, 13 January 2019: It is some weeks now since I resigned from the Royal College of Psychiatrists having been a member for almost a quarter of a century. My intention is to switch focus to my other areas of interest. The following is a summary of the two main areas that I raised in my letter of resignation [it is my understanding that the Royal College of Psychiatrists does not intend to reply to this letter].