Letters Conflicts of interest

King’s Fund reply to Gauld and colleagues

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3778 (Published 11 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3778
  1. Nicholas Timmins, senior fellow1
  1. 1King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN, UK
  1. nicholas.timmins{at}gmail.com

I have a high regard for Robin Gauld, and the essential point that he and his colleagues make is correct—all sources of funding should be transparently declared.1

But I resent the innuendo that lards their letter. It falsely states that the board, not the fund, wrote the report. It makes unwarranted accusations of manipulation, along with overblown comparisons of selective reporting by the drug industry. And they gleefully relate that they found this out through a Freedom of Information request, implying a conspiracy.

They could simply have picked up the phone and asked. We would have told them. We have nothing to hide here. In all presentations in the UK and New Zealand we made clear that the Canterbury District Health Board commissioned this work. It might be seen to be implicit in the acknowledgments, but it should definitely have been explicit. An unfortunate act of omission does not, however, spell conspiracy. Nor does it involve one. The King’s Fund retained full editorial control throughout, as stated in an agreement that the study was to be warts and all. The fund, not the board, wrote the report, and Gauld and colleagues’ view that it is “overly positive” is a matter of judgment and debate around the available evidence.

As for unmet need, Canterbury is clearly meeting more clinical need than it was, and I would be surprised if Gauld and colleagues could name any health system, including their own, with no unmet needs. Their core point is valid. I am slightly surprised that it takes five academics to make it.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3778


  • Competing interests: None, other than that I work for the King’s Fund on contract.


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