Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors find an ally

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 17 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:438
  1. Annabel Ferriman
  1. BMJ

    At last, some good news. After months of feeling vilified as arrogant, paternalistic, and insensitive, doctors have found an ally. The Broadcasting Standards Commission, which regulates television and radio broadcasts, has just upheld two complaints against programme makers for unfair treatment of doctors. Finally, an adjudicating authority has been prepared to say enough is enough.

    This victory does not relate to the most recent battles over retention of organs, botched gynaecological operations, or MMR vaccinations, however. It relates to the longstanding acrimony between parents accused of child abuse and the doctors who try to ensure that children are not abused.

    The first complaint involved an edition of Panorama called “Sick and Tired,” which championed the cause of parents whose children have chronic fatigue syndrome. The message of the programme was that some misguided doctors, who saw the disorder mainly as a psychological illness, treated children with “distraction therapy” (by trying to distract the children from their symptoms) and expected them to do things that were beyond them. The most effective treatment, the programme seemed to say, was bed rest. It suggested that the medical profession was split more or less equally between those who favoured rehabilitation and those who favoured rest.

    It went on to claim that if parents refused the rehabilitative treatment for their child, a coven of doctors, social …

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