What follows below are several extracts from Socialism and Hope by Neil Findlay, MSP.
If you wish to purchase this book please do so through socialismandhope.com as this means a greater donation goes to good causes.
The following is an account of the experience of the petitioners, Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy as members of the “Independent Review” into Polypropylene Mesh implants. This is taken directly from the official report of the Scottish Parliament evidence session of 28 September 2017.
The following is a shared consideration of the potential for conflicts of interest to have had a significant role in the harm caused to Scottish women by Mesh implants. This is taken directly from the official report of this Scottish Parliament evidence session.
I commend Neil Findlay, MSP for raising this important issue with and Dr Agur for his considered responses.
I would also hope that the Review of the “independent review” that Professor Britton is undertaking will consider the issue of conflicts of interest specifically.
PE1493 closed a year and a half ago, after a public consultation exercise under taken by The Scottish Health Council. The majority of those consulted were of the view that there should be a public register open to all and that it should be mandatory for all healthcare staff and academics to declare all competing financial interests.
This post considers the question that Maree Todd, MSP, asked at this Parliamentary committee.
As an NHS employee of 25 years I will close this post with a similar question.
Is there any reason why Government officials (elected or otherwise) should not be included in Duty of Candour legislation?
Since my last post on PE1571, Polypropylene Mesh Medical Devices, there has been further consideration of this petition, with evidence given by Dr Wael Agur and the petitioners Elaine Holmes and Olive McIlroy:
What follows are some of my reflections on the parliamentary committee session of the 28th September 2017:
Before the committee began I suggested to interested colleagues:
“The petition on Mesh implants will start taking further evidence today. This could potentially be a watershed moment for the Scottish Government’s Department of Health?”
Dr Agur was extremely good in giving evidence. He came across to me as open, genuine, careful, scientific and reflective. Dr Agur disabuses the stereotypical notion that surgeons struggle to combine pragmatism with philosophy.
Dr Agur was entirely open about his declarations. Here he is an exemplar.
However I retain the concern that manufacturers may have had a greater share in “shared decision making” on Mesh surgery than we are currently able to determine?
The Mesh survivors spoke incredibly well, and thankfully more openly and candidly than any of those in the systems of power that surround us.
The cross-party questions to Dr Agur and the petitioners explored the issues extremely well.
I have no idea what will happen from here on – but I support all the recommendations of this Parliamentary committee.
I dislike over-simplified summaries and yet I now offer one:
We should be especially open to the consideration of what might constitute “fully informed consent”. I do hope the Chief Medical Officer follows through on Realistic Medicine including the potential for science to be distorted, and patients harmed, by vested interests.
The above statement was part of a longer statement made by the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland in giving evidence on PE1571 on the 18th May 2017.
Health & Sport Committee, Scottish Parliament, 26 September 2017: NHS Governance:
Miles Briggs, MSP, asked this question of the Cabinet Secretary for Health and the Director General for NHS Scotland:
“I wondered if you could outline the role to the committee your role as a Prescribed Person within the Public Disclosure Act”
Definition of Prescribed Persons:
“Prescribed persons, as prescribed under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, are independent bodies or individuals that can be approached by whistleblowers, where an approach to their employers would not be appropriate.”
Full coverage of this parliamentary committee can be watched here [full minutes can also be accessed from this page]
Music credit: “Collapsing time” by Dexter Britain (under common license)
There was a debate on GP recruitment in NHS Scotland held in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 26th September 2017.
It can be watched here.
The Cabinet Secretary for Health seems to have been unavailable, so Maureen Watt, MSP, stood in. It has been said that sometimes “a picture is worth a thousand words”. The picture above is surely an example of such an idiom.
According to the Sunday Post of the 23rd September 2017, the former Health Minister for the Scottish Government, Alex Neil, MSP, is:
“urging the Scottish Government to stage a summit bringing together experts from around the world as the scandal of women left badly injured by the propylene implants escalates”
I am interested in the Mesh implant scandal because of my petition to the Scottish Parliament which sought consideration of a Sunshine Act for Scotland.
On the 17th May 2017 I submitted a summary as part of further consideration of on PE1517: Polypropylene Mesh Medical Devices.
Mr Neil’s call for an international summit has cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament. He also has the backing of East Renfrewshire MP, Paul Masterton, Conservative, who is campaigning at Westminster.Paul Masterton MP states:
The Interim and Final Independent Reviews on the use of Mesh implants concluded that “robust clinical governance must surround treatment”. I have argued that for this to happen the Scottish Government need to listen to the people.
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.
This is my reply to a blog that was posted in the Holyrood Magazine:
Thursday 13th July 2017
I read the blog post titled ‘Official Interference’ written by you in the Holyrood Magazine on the 7th July 2017.
It is welcome to see this matter considered further. I can be a bit slow on the uptake but I wasn’t entirely sure of the main points that you were trying to get across? I am not sure what you mean by “the real story” being about “accusations” of “subjectivity”? I am also not sure what Holyrood’s views may be on the necessary independence of report writers and the public accountability of civil servants?
Let me be entirely open. I have found my experience of communicating with senior civil servants working for the Department of Health and Social Care (DGHSC) most unsettling. In my communications I have put patients first. I have been a longstanding advocate for ethical considerations in healthcare.
As a public servant (NHS doctor) I have been as open and transparent about my experiences as possible – and I have shared all that I can on my website Hole Ousia.
Over some years I have become aware that my personal experience of communication with senior civil servants has been shared by a significant number of others, many of whom have been labelled by DGHSC as “vexatious” or having a “grievance”.
DGHSC civil servants would seem to follow an approach that Prof Walter Hume described as familiar “the various techniques used by bureaucratic organisations to avoid responsibility when things go wrong: these include silence, delay, evasion, buck-passing and attempts to discredit complainants.”
Following the Times report by Helen Puttick and the subsequent report in the Scotsman, I compiled this blog-post:
I should say that I am just an NHS doctor who has a number of interests and that I have neither any skills in politics nor in journalism. I am however interested in ethics and this includes consideration of the integrity of those who occupy positions of genuine power (such as elected politicians and publically paid senior civil servants).
On becoming First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon stated:
“I intend that we will be an open and accessible Government” (26th November 2014)
When giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament, the Director General for NHS Scotland, Paul Gray said:
“I think transparency in the NHS makes sense” (29 January 2014)
I would suggest that there is a growing public concern about senior civil servants working for the Scottish Government in terms of what they say and do.
The Commission on Parliamentary Reform’s “Report on the Scottish Parliament” published on the 20th June 2017 outlined steps that might help improve parliamentary approaches to ensuring necessary accountability of the Scottish Government. I have been made aware, for example, of a number of Petitions under review by the Scottish Parliament that may have been closed as a result of behind-closed-doors “advice” by senior civil servants working for the Scottish Government.
I will stop there Tom. No need to reply unless you so wish.
One closing point. It is most demoralising for hard-working NHS staff to hear repeatedly repeated, parrot-like, from Scottish Government “spokespeople” of “record NHS levels of staffing”. This fighting of reality is not helpful and suggests the sort of “subjectivity” that perhaps you were alluding to in your piece for the Holyrood Magazine?
I will be staging a peaceful protest (I am not party political) about the integrity of senior officials working for the Scottish Government this August at the Martyrs Monument.
Dr Peter J Gordon (writing in my own time and in a personal capacity)