The harmful haste of modern healthcareBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h5083 (Published 24 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5083
All rapid responses
Kamran Abbasi, international editor, writes “..at The BMJ we are equally open to airing disagreement with what we publish,e ven with fashionable haste.” (1) This is admirable, but does it lead to any self questioning, regarding The BMJ’s entrenched positions ?
We need look no further than the Careers section, to have our concerns realised.
“ Doctors are often rude to one another,” writes Tom Moberly, editor, BMJ Careers.
He quotes researchers writing in Paediatrics, “.. policy makers should begin to consider the role played by subtle and seemingly benign verbal aggression to which medical professionals are subjected on a routine basis.” (2)
Many decades on from graduation, I am not convinced that doctors have become any more rude, with the notable exception, in recent years, of those few colleagues who regularly embellish your journal and its website with colourful language that demeans no one but themselves, and, by association, The BMJ.
Such abusive and insulting language is directed at medical homeopaths, an open minded and good humoured community, who recognise that such language says much about the defensive and ill informed mindsets of our abusers, and little about our professional work.
Dismissing us as dangerous and deceitful (3,4,5) to our patients, they have a clear duty to report us to the GMC, which they fail to do, despite frequent reminders. (6)
Verbal abusers who become mute when challenged are found in many school play grounds, and homeopaths view these BMJ keyboard bullies as their tiresome adult equivalents.
They are only a threat, in that their seniority and academic status may mislead journalist contacts, naive medical colleagues, and service commissioners, into believing their Big Lie (7).
Their attempts to restrict the provision of NHS homeopathic services to deserving people, will, even if partially successful, increase the sum of human suffering.
This is a possibility that informed people find sad and depressing.
The BMJ has been a regular facilitator and publisher of offensive and misleading comments on the work of medical homeopaths. You have been asked to make your position clearer. (8)
No response has there been.
Emeritus Professor Ernst co-signed a response recently that equated homeopathy with quackery. (9)
In the context of Ernst’s belief that “ the most important link between my research into alternative medicine and that related to the Third Reich was that of medical ethics ” and that “the principles of medical ethics are routinely ignored and frequently violated by promoters of alternative medicine “ (10) his familiar accusation of quackery sits questionably beside these strange opinions.
There is plenty of clinical evidence out there supporting the effectiveness of homeopathy, (11,12) which The BMJ and Ernst choose not to see. To see it would immediately put at risk Ernst’s professional and public persona as a modern-day scourge of complementary medicine. Hence the need for a steady flow of insults, a “ Get Your Retaliation In First” approach - which helped the British Lions rugby team to victory in 1971 (13), but has no place in professional discussions about the well being of patients.
Primary Care is not a happy place. Practitioners might benefit from a stimulating intellectual challenge which provides help for patients who are also not in happy places.
Homeopathy offers real benefits for practitioner and patient. It is cheap for the taxpayer, safe, and considered low risk, by specialist insurers.
In the light of Moberly’s comments on incivility, and the recent BMJ poll showing 62% of over 5000 voters in favour of doctors recommending homeopathy, is it time for The BMJ to reconsider its predilection for serial verbal abusers of homeopaths, and instead consider a more open minded approach ?
10 E Ernst, A Scientist in Wonderland, Imprint Academic 2015 pp168-169
Competing interests: Peripatetic homeopath
The BMA have always adopted a slow and careful approach when promoting the interests of junior doctors with the result that junior doctors continue to be impoverished in the NHS.
It was not the BMA that halted the scandal of junior doctors working hours, but the EU. The BMA shirked its responsibility to protect its junior members there and adopted its classical supine posture.
Junior doctors' training is a joke and, again the BMA adopts a masterfully silent approach.
Junior doctors lost their free accommodation and the BMA has adopted the patient wait and see approach.
Now juniors are to be further targeted and the BMA's response is to emulate nature.
If a decent trade union can get a tube driver £55,000 pa why can't the BMA get that sort of sum for a doctor who has trained in medical school for 5/6 years.
Junior doctors have always been badly served by the BMA. Now, as many move overseas, we see that this inactivity on the part of the BMA serves neither the seniors nor the NHS.
It is time Juniors found a trade union willing and able to represent their interests.
Dr. Steven R. Hopkins
Competing interests: No competing interests