Sunday, 27 June 2010

Cherie Booth QC and Office of Judicial Complaints

When I complained several months ago about Ms Cherie Booth sentencing of Shamso Miah to Office of Judicial Complaints my expectations were not unrealistic.

In my opinion, she did wrong in bringing religion of a man when sentencing him.

Management consultants expect those working in state institutions to have laisser fair approach to management. Usually, they are right. In the case of Ms Booth, it would be reasonable to expect her to get away with it, so to speak.

My complaint like that made by National Secular Society was found to be partially substantiated and why some expectantly ask: " In which part?" I can say that it does not matter as "One shoe fits all" and I imagine all of us received the same response from OJC although our arguments would have been individually different.

By the way, OJC is very efficient when it comes to communications about the progress of complaints.

Ms Booth did not say anything about poverty and religion during her sentencing (interestingly, Mr Shamso Miah hit a man during argument about the queueing for Cash Point at bank) as far as I know. It is recognized that religiosity of countries as a whole is linked to lower income per capita.

While in some countries judges get penalized for pushing religion repeatedly, in UK this is yet to happen.

OJC (Lord Chancellor Clarke, and Chief Justice Judge) have decided that informal talk with Senior Judge and Ms Booth is all that is needed to address the complaints against her. I guess it was brief, as it is usual custom in UK is to avoid religious matters in conversations. Thus, one saves oneself the tedium of having to deal with those who have already made their choice to cling to whatever appears to symbolically represent those in power (men).

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

UK in breach of Human Rights of UK prisoners and doctors by Dr Helen Bright

Doctors are also suffering from human rights breaches as Medical Act 1983 is incompatible with Article 6 of European Convention of Human Rights. Some Statutory Instruments are also rather grotesque such as SI 2004 No 2611. There are a number of problems if you look at section 7 where any defect in the appointment of a panellist does not invalidate disciplinary hearings. Some may not have been appointed at all. In fact, anyone could be dragged from the gutter and judge doctors in UK and it would be legal according to UK law as intepreted by the General Medical Council. No need for votes or appointment system, it would appear.
There should be an application in High Court to declare incompatibility with Human Rights and if it fails one could seek remedy in European Court while making sure one also lives a very long and healthy life to see the effects of one's efforts.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Psychiatrists in denial or not about conflicts of interests? by Dr Helen Bright

After media wrote about an alleged undeclared conflict of interests between several high profile doctors and pharmaceutical industry American Psychiatric Association (APA) did the decent thing and formed a working party of 11 members which was chaired by Dr Appelbaum (photo on the left) who was once President of American Psychiatric Association. They proposed 14 items designed to regulate and significantly curtail psychiatrists' relationship with pharmaceutical industry. Before it was due to be debated at National Assembly of APA, the reference committee rejected it.
One of the younger members of APA pushing for recommendations is Dr Sonkiss who stated:

"Progress is not gained without struggle. "Almost every major historical landmark of progress — the abolition of slavery, child labor reform, women's suffrage, civil rights — has been divisive, but each was accomplished because it was the right thing to do. Whether it is divisive or not, passing the Appelbaum report is also the right thing to do."

Dr Appelbaum's opinion is: "Ironically, it appears to be very difficult for many psychiatrists to accept the notion that these maybe influences on their behaviour that are outside their conscious perception".

Well, we know that people are motivated by pleasure. There is pleasure of taking from pharmaceutical industry as well as pleasure of giving something back. It does not have to be unconscious. However, declaring conflicts of interests is demotivating business. Fear of being viewed with suspicion after declaring conflicts of interests can motivate psychiatrists to not declare any conflicts of interests.
There would be psychiatrists who would not be influenced by gifts from pharmaceutical industry but that requires resistance to pleasure of giving something back just because one has received something. And when it comes to resistance we are not the same.
Pharmaceutical industry has sponsored research where the findings were critical of the medication and this was published many times. Psychiatrists in these cases were not influenced negatively by conflicts of interests and did declare them.
In a simplistic world of regulation, complexities can be ignored and Applebaum report is to be discussed further by APA in September 2010. I predict it will be adopted in modified form.
In an ideal world, many more conflicts of interests would have to be declared eg religious, political, gender bias etc. Psychiatrists know only too well why they should do it.
Self-regulation does have big holes in it. For public to have confidence in medical profession, it is important that these conflicts of interests are not only declared but also examined by independent people for the right mechanisms to be put in place to prevent serious injustice to many including pharamaceutical industry.
There is no, for example, assessment of the conflict of interests by regulatory bodoes in UK. It is not enough just to declare it.
Some members of one regulatory body also sit at others. This is another source of numerous conflicts of interests.
Secrecy is dysfunctional and so is lack of intimacy. Once conflicts are declared it is silly to leave it just to those who declared it to deal with their conflicts as they see fit.
Some people should be actively prevented from taking up some forms of work. European Council did well in that respect by excluding some people such as religious extremists whose views were not compatible with the law and more specifically Human Rights.