I was made aware of one such example recently.
The Society of Homeopaths - the ones that tried and failed miserably to sue The Quackometer for demonstrating that homeopaths regularly flout their own code of conduct and in some cases prescribe homeopathic medicines for potentially fatal diseases like malaria - put out a press release on 28th February 2008 regarding a consultation to allow the SoH to become the UK regulatory body for homeopaths.
The press release contained the two following statements:
The Society of Homeopaths, Britain’s largest professional association of homeopaths, today announced that it has begun a wide-ranging consultation as it prepares to launch the UK’s first independent single register and regulatory body for homeopaths. Following a recent meeting with the Department of Health, the Board of the 30 year old Society resolved to divest its self-regulation and governance arm from its membership and continuing professional development functions in order to create a first-class regulatory body, which will govern the professional practice of an expanding number of homeopathy practitioners.
Gripping stuff. But nonetheless, it appears that a meeting was held with Dept. of Health concerning future regulation. Indeed, later on in press release we find out that:
The resolution approved by the Board became viable after our consultation with the Department of Health and we are convinced that this big step forward will benefit patients, their families and the profession as a whole”.
Promoted from a meeting up to a consultation. Seems like the DoH are bedbuddies with the SoH and everyone is happy.
That is, until you ask the Dept of Health for their take on it. I've been made aware of an FOI request asking for minutes of the meetings between SoH and DoH in the last two years. The result? The Freedom of Information Unit at the Dept of Health has stated:
I can confirm that there have been no meetings between the Department and the Society of Homeopaths over the last two years.
Seems like a very one-sided consultation if the DoH weren't even there*. So who do you believe - A Freedom of Information request from the Department of Health, or a press-release from a self-interested group of quacks?
Make your own Freedom of Information requests via this easy to use website, WhatDoTheyKnow.com
*EDIT (3rd July 2008): In an interesting turn of events, the FOI officer has responded to the above webpage full of apologies and hand-wringing, for TWICE confirming that the SoH and Dept of Health had not met. What he meant was that there were no formal meetings with the SoH. There was, however, an informal meeting and a DoH official did make some scribbly notes, which have been transcribed (thanks Tristan) as follows:
Meeting with The Department of Health
Wednesday 30th January 2008
Quarry House, Leeds
11:00 Welcome and Introductions
11:10 The Society of Homeopaths – an introduction
11:30 The Department of Health – regulation update *
11:50 Opportunities for joint working
Increased lay involvement
Changes to regulator’s governance
Separation of investigation and adjudication
Changes to standard of proof
Changes to CHRE’s powers & governance
* White paper – programme of work
- Health Bill
- 5.60 orders
- GANTT chart
Me - Europe – Dir 2005/3G
- Regulation of CAM? – MHRA – Homeopaths
- FIH VSR
- NHS Employers
- SVG / Whisleblowing
Talk to XXXXXXXXXXX C-S about whether Society of Homeopaths will be involved in the NHC’s profession – specific board. Why would a homeopath want to join the NMC?
With a massive 5 minutes devoted to "Opportunities for Joint Working" it appears that the meeting's importance has been exaggerated well out of proportion by SoH!