Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Medical ethics

My application for a job in homoeopathy

Those of you who follow homoeopathy stories in the blogosphere will be aware that NHS Tayside are currently advertising for a "Specialist Doctor in Homeopathy". If you are not familiar with this story, and some of the excellent job applications it has generated, you might want to catch up with it here, here, or here (and probably many other excellent blogs as well, apologies to anyone I've missed out).

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Plagiarism hurts

First of all, for blindingly obvious reasons, I should acknowledge that the title of this blog post is not original. "Plagiarism hurts" was the title of an article in EMWA's journal The Write Stuff by Elise Langdon-Neuner, its editor-in-chief (page 13 of this issue, 1.6 MB pdf). I'm sure that Elise won't mind me re-using her title, with proper attribution.

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UK Biobank part 4

For anyone who hasn't yet read the first 3 parts of this story, they are here, here, and here. Just to recap, my main concern is that the NHS disclosed my confidential data (and the data of about 5 million other people) to the UK Biobank team without my consent.

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UK Biobank part 3

Readers with a long memory will recall that I blogged about the UK Biobank project back in January (with an update in May), and that at the time I made a Freedom of Information request to try to receive the ethics application form for the study.

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Homoeopathy: is it all bad?

There has been much discussion in the blogosphere and the Twittersphere lately about homoeopathy, partly because of some Early Day Motions being put before the British parliament on the subject, and partly because of the BMA's vote against homoeopathy at their recent conference.

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A rose by any other name...

I sit on a research ethics committee, which for the most part is a fascinating experience. It is always interesting to see what research people want to do, and satisfying when we can help it become more ethical.

However, sometimes I really despair about the way ethics committees are managed. Today, I have received a letter from NRES, asking me to take part in a consultation. Is this consultation about important ethical issues in clinical research?

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UK Biobank part 2

I blogged about the UK Biobank study back in January. My two main concerns were that the NHS had passed on my personal data without my consent to the UK Biobank team, and that the UK Biobank's literature described the handling of biological samples as "anonymous", when in fact it wasn't. I had other concerns too. In short, I wasn't very happy.

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NHS summary care records

I had a letter from the NHS yesterday, telling me that they would like to create a summary care record (SCR) for me. In fact they wanted to do it so much that they were going to go ahead and create one even if I don't ask them to.

Oh goody.

So what does this mean, exactly? Well, it means that my personal medical details would be uploaded onto a giant database that would be available to anyone working in the NHS who happens to be treating me, wherever they are in the country. In theory, the SCR is supposed to improve the safety and quality of patient care by ensuring that relevant staff have the information they need.

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Mission impenetrable

I've just returned from a 1-day conference organised by the National Research Ethics Service. I can't say I've finished the day with a wonderful sense of optimism about the future of ethical review of clinical research.

The day began with a talk that was supposed to be an update about what NRES was doing. In fact it was mainly about NRES's mission statement, the drafting of which seems to have occupied an outrageously disporportionate amount of NRES's intellectual efforts. As I wrote on my feedback form for the event, this focus on writing a mission statment shows "an alarming lack of perspective". Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I've never really seen the point of any mission statement that doesn't begin with the words "Your mission, should you decide to accept it...". Did the Pharaohs have a mission statement when they built the pyramids? Did Nelson have a mission statement at Trafalgar? You wonder how much could have been achieved if all the effort that had clearly gone into the (as yet unfinished) mission statement had been spent on doing something useful instead.

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UK Biobank

I have just received an invitation to take part in the UK Biobank study. I have some serious concerns about their attitude to data protection, and I won't be participating. Continue reading→
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