From: Dr Peter Gordon
Sent: 18 September 2020
To: Professor Robert Howard
Thank you for this. I am grateful.
I felt that I needed to reply because I do not agree with your summary. My concern was with behaviour by professionals that departed from the Core Values of the College and GMC Guidance on Doctors Use of Social Media. It is entirely legitimate to raise concerns about this and I want to give you one last prompt to reflect on this.
I shared your own words and set the context of the extant guidance. Meantime you have described me on social media in unpleasant terms and questioned my mental health having diagnosed me by a BINGO card.
I have not read your Tweets nor those of Dr Mark Swinton as I have found the language you used to describe me as unnecessarily derogatory and some weeks ago decided not to look at Twitter again. Other people have also experienced distress as a result of your use of language on social media and at least one individual was left suicidal as a result.
Telling truth to power is not easy and sometimes may require persistence. The intention is not to cause upset but to facilitate understanding.
I feel liberated having made the difficult decision to retire from psychiatry but can reflect warmly on the good working relationships I had with my colleagues. I will also miss the insight into the lives of others that comes from contact with patients.
I do not intend to write to you further and wish you well.
Please note: I understand that Prof Howard has stated on social media that I referred him to the GMC. This not correct. I have never referred Prof Howard to the GMC.
I have only ever referred one doctor to the GMC and that was as part of a group of lay and professional folk who were legitimately concerned that this doctor was regularly ignoring GMC guidance on doctors’ use of social media.
Prof Rob Howard, a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a former College Dean, and recipient of a College Lifetime Achievement Award:
(1) has stated that advocating for transparency in science is a “misguided pursuit”
(2) is of the view that Realistic Medicine has common-ground with Scientology
(3) considers antidepressant withdrawal symptoms to be “rare” and “not the issue that some are suggesting”
(4) describes members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence as “shadowy”
(5) regularly uses demeaning, loaded, provocative, and catch-all terms to describe those who share harmful experiences of psychiatric treatments
(6) labels patients who have been mis-diagnosed with dementia as “Munchausen’s portrayals”
(7) asks others “to reflect on their behaviour” yet never acknowledges the distress that his social media behaviour routinely causes to many vulnerable people
(8) has expressed his view, as a registered doctor, that raising legitimate concerns in relation to College Core Values amounts to “harassment” and is a reflection of “sadistic” behaviour by those concerned that professional values are not being followed
(9) has stated that he “does not recognise” wilful blindness.
Comments about Prof Rob Howard’s behaviour and language made openly on social media by a range of individuals:
If an organisation such as the RCPsych wishes to aspire to being the arbiter of professionalism, and to assume the position of power that comes with this role, then that organisation and its representatives must be willing to be held publicly accountable when they are perceived to depart from the values they collectively espouse.
“I find Professor Howard’s remarks offensive and insulting ”
“[the] mocking by this person [Prof Howard] [has continued] for days.”
“The more he [Prof Howard] tweets, the worse he looks. Unsympathetic, huge lack of understanding, unwillingness to listen, zero empathy. Pretty much the main traits you wouldn’t want in a Mental health professional”
“Prof Rob Howard has already left two people expressing serious distress being in danger as a result. I’m worried he is harming people. So many good folks out there, let’s focus our attention on them and start virtuous cycle of genuine change?”
“What I have read this last 2 weeks from Prof Howard on Twitter WAS ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS I needed support early hours from 111 services the other night. I am still recuperating now. He [Prof Howard] did much harm to me psychologically this week. I was soooo triggered about my harm and He [Prof Howard] let it be known where people like me belong. Cruel man . . . no compassion or empathy at all” [capitalisation and emphasis as written by the social media contributor]
“Prof Howard, its honestly its not like that. My wish is to see real change and an abandonment of damaging psychiatric myths for those that come after me. I’m not a “these people” I’m a Dad who thinks the way we were misled has no place within regulated medicine. They nearly took my boy.”
“Prof Howard treats harmed patients with disdain”
“Prof Howard has a vested interest in discrediting harmed patient safety campaigners on this platform who are challenging the authority of psychiatry”
“I see you are denigrating harmed patients again, Prof Howard, shame on you, you bring your profession into disrepute.”
“That you [Prof Howard] belittle and try to silence us is callous and cruel.”
“I have come to the conclusion that Prof Howard is incapable of engaging in any form of discussion at all, he rarely if ever responds to harmed patients in a constructive manner”
“I know it would be different if I was lauding and applauding the profession of psychiatry, if I had a mental illness and said I was benefitting from my treatment, then Prof Howard would fall over himself to say how brave I was to speak out.”
“Prof Howard likes to portray harmed patients as the villains compared to the heroes who take their meds and describe their benefits, he is one of the most divisive professionals I have come across.”
“Do you not think it is important to uphold college values Prof Howard? What is the point of [the Royal College of Psychiatrists] having them on [their] website then? And please stop your churlish passive aggressive patronising.”
“I’m too tired to call out Prof Rob Howard but I really am surprised the GMC doesn’t step in.”