Letters NICE on back pain

NICE outraged by ousting of pain society president

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3028 (Published 28 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3028
  1. Michael Rawlins, chairman1,
  2. Peter Littlejohns, clinical and public health director1
  1. 1National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), London WC1V 6NA
  1. nice{at}nice.org.uk

    The British Pain Society has voted to force its president, Professor Paul Watson, out of office because some members disagreed with a recommendation in the recent guideline on low back pain from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that he helped to develop.1 The society’s sustained campaign against a highly respected pain management and rehabilitation expert is shameful and professional victimisation of the worst kind.

    All NICE guidelines are developed by independent clinical and patient experts who give up their time and expertise over two years to produce robust, evidence based guidance. It is totally unacceptable for guideline developers to be singled out and have their professional integrity called into question simply because some groups don’t like a robust, evidence based recommendation that has been developed by a group of independent experts.

    The guideline developers’ only aim is to help to improve the care and treatment of people with specific conditions by highlighting gold standard approaches based on the available evidence. The British Pain Society shows that it does not accept evidence based medicine. Moreover, its actions fly in the face of a recent High Court judgment.2 A judicial review of NICE’s guidelines on chronic fatigue syndrome dismissed all claims, the judge highlighting that health experts must be able to express their opinions without fear of retribution.

    The British Pain Society has made its president a scapegoat because some of its members refuse to accept that there is not the scientific evidence to support their interventions. It is a sad day for the freedom of experts to express views, evidence based medicine, and the ideals of the medical profession.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3028


    • Competing interests: None declared.