Friday, 12 June 2009

Government in fudged response to e-petition shocker

Hold the front pages - or maybe you shouldn't bother.

Some months ago Sean Ellis launched an e-petition demanding that the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC, better know on teh internets as OfQuack...) ask for evidence of efficacy of the treatments that their registered practitioners, err, practice. At first this seems an entirely logical premise - a government-backed body that publishes what is effectively a list of 'approved' practitioners ought to have, as one of its criteria for inclusion on said list, whether or not the services they offer effective for what they claim them to be.

Not so, it would seem. Consistently criticised for being a vehicle for unproven therapies, the CNHC has a lot to answer for - as does the government which set the whole venture up. But today the government responded to the e-petition demanding evidence for efficacy with a typical fudge - a simple reiteration of the CNHC's current remit with no mention of why they've omitted the crucial efficacy criterion.
The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) does not promote the efficacy of disciplines practised by its registrants
is how the response begins.
Perhaps not, but it does give the public a sense that by consulting with someone registered with CNHC, they're getting a therapy from a reliable source - in other words, the register legitimises all practitioners thereon, regardless of whether what they dish out/stick pins in/squeeze/dilute has any effect or is safe.
Regulation, whether statutory or voluntary, is about protecting the public
the response continues.
Marvellous, and about time too. So, by investigating the safety record of AltMed practitioners before including them on the list the more dangerous amongst them will be eliminated, right...? Nope, because there is no requirement for assessing safety or efficacy.

The whole response is basically nothing more than a re-hashed version of the government's justification for setting up CNHC in the first place - deliberately avoiding the issue of efficacy and leaving that up to individual choice. How on Earth one is meant to exercise individual choice without any evidence for efficacy is beyond me, it really is.

Fudge, evasion, obfuscation - any more words spring to mind...? The entire OfQuack scenario is a shining example of how pandering to a minority interest group is more important to the government than the principles of scientific enquiry and evidence-based medicine. We must not let this lie - I can only suggest alerting as many media outlets as possible to this farcical situation to put more pressure on the government to relent.


Allo V Psycho said...

OK, even I am shocked. Let us contrast
"The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) does not promote the efficacy of disciplines practised by its registrants"
with the CHNC Mission Statement:

"CNHC's mission is to support the use of complementary and natural healthcare as a uniquely positive, safe and effective experience"

This looks to me like straight forward lying. In clear daylight. I think I will have to write to Ben Bradshaw.

teekblog said...

Hah, that's great - you've just set me my homework for the weekend...!

Le Canard Noir said...

Ben Bradshaw - who he?

Long gone - Now minister for the South West or some other big step up from Minister for Quackery.

Allo V Psycho said...

Yeah, I checked They Work for You. But since it comes from the Number 10 Office I wrote to Brown himself in fine flow: "hard to interpret as other than a deliberate lie"; "withdraw this egregiously untrue statement"; "FoI request re who is responsible" and copied it all to my own MP. Now wish I'd said stuff like "at a time when politicians are falling into disrepute, it is particularly unfortunate that the No 10 Office posts blatant untruths", "all the petition was asking was that CAM be held to same standards as other health care deliveres", "son of the Manse indeed, your daddy would be ashamed of you" etc etc. Feel free to raise any of these!
Will let you know when I get a response.

Tony said...

And another CNHC lie is their promise to maintain "openness and accountability".
They are in fact being utterly secretive about what they are doing and what they have achieved. Try writing to their Board Chair, Maggy Wallace, and asking some harmless question like "how many CAM practitioners have registered with you up to now?" and see how far you get.
And the Department of Health, who financed them to the tune of £900,000, have said in reply to a Freedom of Information request that they have no information about how it was spent, or about what the CNHC has achieved.

Sean Ellis said...

Thanks for the link. I wasn't expecting much from the Government, but to miss the entire point of the question was below even my minimum threshold.

Allo v Psycho had an interesting compare-and-contrast. It's even more interesting to compare the two opening statements of the response itself, right next to each other in black and white on the same page.

Sigh... Disappointing, isn't it.

Jhon said...

It's even more interesting to compare the two opening statements of the response itself.

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