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Accolades & Quackolades

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Simon Singh


"This blogpost is simply brilliant."
Mark Burnley


"You are a rude argumentative bully. You are a typical "skeptic" - not sceptical at all."
Andrew, anti-vaxer


"Your piece about House of Commons Science and Technology sub-Committee’s ‘evidence check’ on homeopathy was one of the best I’ve seen. Strength to your elbow."
Tony


"...an individual calling themselves ‘scepticat’ or ‘sceptikat’- a highly volatile dictatorial site run by a wannabe megalomaniac. A truly disturbed person with a anger management issue venting via their little site to their own personal herd of sycophants."
Centella, one of Dr Andrew Jones personal herd of sycophants.


"Excellent report, which I can vouch for completely."
Jack of Kent


"The ludicrous nature of the complaint, and some of the responses by Dr Ranj and the BBC, has already been expertly documented on the Skepticat UK blog".
Dean Burnett


"Choke on your own vomit and die in agony..."
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author


"A very good rebuttal…"
Anna Watson, anti-vaxer Arnica UK


"A staggering amount of pathological disbelief allied with a staggering amount of arrogance."
AJP, homeopath


"I just love this blog, and this post is a fine example of it’s content – ‘Inside the spine wizard’s den’ – Skepticat. Why do some of us feel that we are above challenging argument and peer review? I just wish that I could write as well as some of these bloggers!"
Jonathan Hearsey, osteopath


"Skepticat is a particularly venomousness (sic) skeptic, a humanist who lives by the "golden rule", she refused to let me follow her on twitter because I am "bonkers" which may endear her to many in the chiropractic profession..."
Richard Lanigan, chiropractor


"Die Die die die!"
r wesley edwards, aka @CommonCormorant, author


"Loved that article. It really shows what chiropractors are really all about. What I call the "chiro show" Exposing people to totally unnecessary X-rays should be criminal. Thank you!"
mt


"I think skepticat is plain mad at not having children of her own. Hatred projected out to the world. It's sad to see someone with so much self hatred, destroying themself internally without even realising it."
Bebo, chiropractor


"Hooray for Reason! Just want to thank you for writing this. Even though the arguments presented are tired, and played out, they still must be refuted."
Elijah


"I understand that you have been traumatised by your experience and that this is your way of coming to terms with the emotional scars."
Stefaan Vossen, chiropractor


"All you really seem interested in is banging your repetitive drum and preaching to the converted."
Rick, osteopath


"All the entries I’ve read are excellent. I’ll be coming back to read more. Love the cat logo as well."
Derrik


"Research in Homeopathy Conference - Skepticat's hilarious account. She went to it."
David Colquhoun


"Her site is Skepticat UK... she wouldn’t know a punchline if it raped her. Or maybe she’d thank it."
Scott Cappurro, comedian


"I rather love the lunacy of the anti-Homeopathists, such as yourself."
James Pannozzi, homeopath


"Good blog from a skeptic which examines the "science" of Homeopathy in a very detailed way. Skeptics will love this. Proponents of homeopathy? Not so much."
SidDithers


"I really shouldn’t waste my valuable time with someone who obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder."
Erika Alisuag, homeopathist


"I’m finding it difficult to come up with some suitable words to say how good and interesting your stuff is. So, in the absence of suitable hyperbole can I say what a very well written and presented blog you have here. Really well thought out and researched. And passionate about it too! Complimenti!"
pv


"You’re whole life is worthless because you lack reason."
AJP, homeopath


"Great stuff Skepticat."
Lifelinking


"When you have learnt some big words and also studied your history books you’ll find that the world was once thought to be flat…by people just like you."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath


"Thanks for keeping the banner of reason flying high."
John Willis Lloyd


"This is just a general comment. I love this well-written an unfussy little blog (I don’t mean little in a derogatory way, but in the sense it’s not bombastic, self-important and posturing). Excellent material and a worthwhile focus, keep up the good work."
xenophon19


"Her website is a temple to diatribe – I have no sympathy for the homeopaths, etc, with whom she battles, but she clearly gets off on confrontation."
JF Derry


"Skepticat is strictly logical and attacks in unparliamentary words what she deems to be “quackery” – or suggestions that she sounds a little strident."
Andy Reporter


"LOVE the badass attitude! Seriously...KEEP IT UP!"
HelpIzOnTWay


"You were a playful little diversion for a. moment, but I do have better things to do with my time than waste more than half an hour of it stooping down to play your ego supporting self delusional mind games……"
Susan Elizabeth, homeopathist


"An excellent read, thanks for taking thr time to compose it."
Alan C


"You need to do a course in anger management."
katenut, nutritionist


"FWIW I think you manage your anger rather well...mostly by focusing it into a thin, narrow beam of incisive rage which you then use to inscribe words on screen. ;)"
Despard


"Excellent description of the events."
Simon Perry


"You seem to be of probably well-meaning, but bigoted and fundamentalist disposition, just parroting slogans from others without any really knowledge or insight yourself."
Neil Menzies


"Superb, as usual"
phayes


"You seem only interested in ranting against an enemy which you are apparently still struggling to come to terms with “fifteen years” later."
Rick, osteopah


"Bravo, great post!"
RBO


"One day if you are not very careful you will be left behind in the dark ages. I’m sure this will not be printed..but hope it is read by you poor little scaredy cats."
Sarah Hamilton, homeopath


"Brilliant piece!"
crabsallover


"While you babble on like a total airhead about Myhill, you ignore the real doctors who are a danger in the UK".
struck-off doctor, Rita Pal, 'NHS whistle-blower'


"I sincerely hope I never get to your stage of wilful ignorance. You know absolutely diddly squat about the subject but you think your opinion is the only opinion."
AJP, homeopath


"Keep up the spin, you manky old chicken's foot."
JB, chiropractor


"I am forced to conclude you are blogging on behalf of a specific entity that does wish to remain anonymous."
AJP, homeopath


"The person writing all this negative press on homeopathy must be getting a big fat check from one of the pharmaceutical companies who would dearly love to push homeopathy off the map."
Erika Alisuag


"Such reporting lands you clearly in the realm of fundamentalist extremism–much noise, no substance, and money from those who have something to sell. It is so unfortunate that your listening skills are in need of repair."
Tanya Marquette, homeopath


"She seems to revel in presenting the many insults that she has attracted as a column of “Quackolades” on her site, as if war wounds on display,"
JF Derry, self-publicist


"Oh shut up SK. You write hot air and spew rubbish as usual."
Rita Pal again.

Dr Sarah Myhill exploited patients’ lack of medical knowledge by arousing ill-found fears for their health, say GMC

According the General Medical Council’s register, Dr Sarah Myhill was issued with a formal warning by the GMC in October 2012 to run until October 2017. The warning says:

On Dr Myhill’s website she made statements in relation to contraception and breast cancer screening that were factually incorrect; clinically unsubstantiated; and contrary to national guidelines. In so doing she used her position as a registered practitioner to exploit patients’ lack of medical knowledge by arousing ill found fears for their health. This conduct does not meet with the standard required of a doctor. It risks bringing the profession into disrepute and must not be repeated. The required standards are set out in Good Medical Practice and associated guidance. In this case, paragraph 57, 62 and 65 are particularly relevant. ‘You must make sure that your conduct at all times justifies your patients’ trust in you and the public’s trust in the profession.’ ‘You must not put pressure on people to use a service, for example by arousing ill founded fears for their future health’ and ‘You must do your best to make sure that any documents your write or sign are not false or misleading. This means that you must take reasonable steps to verify the information in the documents, and that you must not deliberately leave out relevant information.’ Whilst this failing in itself is not so serious as to require any restriction on Dr Myhill’s registration, it is necessary in response to issue this formal warning.

Though it may be true, that stuff about exploiting patients’ ignorance and fears isn’t a pleasant thing to have said about you, so it’s hardly surprising that the record of her battles with the GMC on Myhill’s website stops short of mentioning that the October 2012 hearing even took place, let alone the outcome. Even some of those who identify as Myhill’s supporters don’t seem to know about it.Thankfully, the GMC provides the publishable minutes of the hearing:

In an email dated 9 February 2010 Mr A, Senior Clinical Scientist, wrote to the GMC with concerns that patients were being misled by the advice on your website…..Mr A alleged that the advice contained on your website was contrary to national guidelines, specifically those of the NHS, The Department of Health and NICE. He was concerned that the advice was placing patients at serious risk.

The Committee concluded that Myhill’s actions were “a significant departure” from “proper standards of care”.

It has balanced your interests with those of the public and in doing so the Committee has determined that the following warning is an appropriate and proportionate response in this case.

As everyone with an interest in the case now knows, the complainant – called “Mr A” in the minutes – was one Stuart Jones. He complained about Myhill’s website to the GMC; the complaint was eventually upheld or largely upheld, and Myhill got a five-year warning. Sounds straightforward and it should have been – except that Jones made the mistake of disparaging Myhill on an internet forum, thereby becoming a target for those who really don’t care about vulnerable people being misled by factually incorrect information by doctors in private practice and who think Myhill should be free to say whatever she likes.

Some readers will recall that I blogged about Jones’ complaint to the GMC and the so-called witch hunt against Myhill back in April 2010. This was after Myhill had attended an interim hearing in connection with two complaints about her and, as a result, was suspended from practising. One of those complaints came from a group of doctors and concerned her recommendations for treatment to a patient she hadn’t met; the other one was Jones’ complaint about her website. One can only speculate whether she would still have been suspended if the only complaint about her had been the one from Jones, which was only about her website.

That earlier post of mine is still one of the most viewed posts on this blog. When it first appeared, it attracted many comments, including some from ME sufferers expressing appreciation. A lot of Myhill’s supporters linked to it but not one of them turned up to disagree with any part of it – probably because there was nothing in it they could reasonably dispute.

The only person who objected to it (though she wasn’t brave enough to comment beneath it) was some struck-off doctor called Rita Pal who, most entertainingly, had a big tantrum on her own blog about it. I understand from her tweets that she was offended because, after I quoted something she wrote on her own blog about Jones (whose name she didn’t know at the time), I said she sounded like a nutjob and I called her a silly moo. She seems to think that’s defamation.

Here’s a reminder of what she had said:

Perhaps the big girls blouse will fight like a real man and stop “hiding behind the skirts of the GMC”. Of course, identification is really easy really (sic), we get the IP, we get the internet company and we get the address. It is about a 48 hour job if I put my mind to it…There will be no problems in outing Dr /Mr Anonymous. After that, we will do what was done to Dr (name redacted). The matter was faxed to all local papers, to every PCT and posted on the internet. In the end, (name redacted) became depressed….

Pal’s comments, as nutty as they seemed at the time (and still do), gave a taste of things to come. In February 2012, Andrew Kewley left this comment for me beneath that earlier post.

It seems this story was a case of ‘the boy who cried wolf’. The GMC dropped the case against Dr Myhill and the person who made the complaint pleaded guilty of misconduct.

The suggestion here seems to be that Jones’ complaint against Myhill was found to be vexatious and that this was the ‘misconduct’ he pleaded guilty to. In fact, as we know, his complaint against Myhill was upheld. So Jones wasn’t “crying wolf”.

As for Jones pleading guilty to misconduct, this was not about the fact that he’d complained about Myhill but about the disparaging comments he’d made on a thread on the Bad Science forum. The thread was eventually removed from the forum but not before one of Myhill’s supporters had copied it and sent it to the Health Professions Council (as it was then called), of which Jones is a registrant.

At a hearing on 20 December 2011,* the Conduct and Competence Committee of the HPC found that making disparaging comments about Myhill on an internet forum was “inappropriate and unprofessional” and “had the potential to damage public confidence in him and his profession”. The Panel also decided Jones’ fitness to practise was “impaired by reason of misconduct” and that, “public confidence in the profession and the HPC’s regulatory role would be undermined if a finding of impairment of fitness to practise was not made”.

[The Panel] notes that this case does not involve any issues in relation to the Registrant’s clinical competence and further notes that the misconduct did not cause any patient harm…Further, it is the Panel’s judgement that the majority of his posts on the Bad Science Forum were not inappropriate and that there is a low risk of reoccurrence of his misconduct.

My bold. Myhill’s supporters like to bang on about how no patient has actually been harmed by anything she’d done but they didn’t extend that same consideration to Jones when deciding whether to complain about him. Just saying.

Jones expressed “genuine remorse” for the disparaging comments he’d made and the Panel cautioned him for just two years – the usual benchmark for cautions being three years, so we are told. It expires on 18 January 2014.

In his blog post entitled, ‘The GMC owes Stuart Jones as apology‘, jaycueaitch makes the obvious point that Jones did not identify himself on the Bad Science forum and, were it not for the GMC breaching the confidentiality of this complainant, nobody would even know his name, never mind his occupation. There would be no “potential to damage public confidence in him and his profession” – nor potential to damage confidence in the regulatory role of the HPC.

The complaint against Myhill by Jones was motivated by concern about potentially dangerous advice she had on her website. It would seem that the complaint against Jones by Myhill’s mate, who was supported by Myhill herself, was motivated entirely by malice and a desire for revenge.

The final outcomes of the respective complaints were a five-year warning for Myhill (and her having to amend her website) compared to a two-year caution for Jones. Enough said.

Why did I decide to blog all this now? Well, because it seems that at least one of Myhill’s supporters – the author** of the mistitled ‘Child Health Safety’ blog, which is largely devoted to trying to misinform people about vaccines – is feeling pissed about the fact that, in a couple of weeks, Jones’ caution will have run its course and he can put it behind him. For this reason, the man (?) at CHS has sunk lower than any sewer-dwelling internet bully I’ve ever seen before – and goodness knows he’s got plenty of competition.  He is seriously trying to pin an alleged suicide of one of Myhill’s patients on Jones, on everyone else who participated in that Bad Science forum thread and on the owner of the Bad Science website himself, Ben Goldacre.

‘Patient Committed Suicide After His Doctor Was Hounded By Dr Ben Goldacre’s Badscience Forum Internet Bullies’, says the title of his January 3rd blog post

The patient, who was suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome at the time [also known as ME] killed himself, according to evidence from his doctor, because he mistakenly believed his doctor was no longer allowed to treat him: ‘Deluded quack’ jibe nearly ruined doctor’s career, Daily Telegraph, 21 December 2011.

If any such story ever appeared in the Telegraph on 21 December 2011 or on any other date, it has since been removed from the newspaper’s website, hence none of the websites that carry the story link to the original, if it ever existed.*** Personally, I suspect the story was online for a very short time but was removed when someone pointed out the flaws in it.

Pal.tweet

Only an idiot could fail to spot these flaws, so it comes as no surprise to see that Rita Pal appears to have swallowed the story hook, line and sinker and has even written a blog of her own about it.

For those similarly challenged, please try to grasp the following:

1. Myhill did not get suspended because of anything said on the BS forum by SJ or by anyone else.

Nobody submitted the Bad Science thread to the GMC as evidence against Myhill and it was not taken into account by the GMC’s Interim Orders Panel when they made the decision to suspend Myhill. So the original story’s headline – ‘Deluded quack’ jibe nearly ruined doctor’s career – is a complete falsehood. Myhill’s suspension and the existence of the BS thread disparaging her are totally unrelated.

2. The story about this alleged suicide doesn’t come from any coroner’s court but from Myhill’s own mouth.

She told it when giving evidence against Jones at the HPC hearing occasioned by their silly and malicious complaint against him.

Edited 7.1.14 to add a link to Chemo brain’s blog, which points out that,

Myhill appears to have created a huge dependency in her patients, who seem to believe she is a guru in the treatment of ME/CFS, something seriously discouraged by best medical practice. Indeed, in Jones’ FTP hearing, Myhill bragged that a patient had killed himself, believing that the GMC was going to prevent Myhill treating him. This isn’t something a Doctor should be bringing the attention of enquiring minds, and has yet to be confirmed.

I have already revealed that Myhill’s regard for the truth is somewhat casual. In my last blog I quoted her categorical claim that Lynn Gilderdale had died from ME. It turned out that the source of this misinformation was none other than Lynn Gilderdale’s grieving mother, whose supposition that it was the BCG vaccination that had triggered Lynn’s ME was also repeated by Myhill as if it were a verified fact. In fact, Lynn Gilderdale had committed suicide with the assistance of her mother, who was given a one-year conditional discharge for her part.

3. Nobody had said Myhill wasn’t going to practise again.

The alleged suicide of Myhill’s nameless patient took place while Myhill was suspended by the Interim Orders Panel and well before the actual hearing, which was originally scheduled for November 2011. At that stage nobody – including the GMC itself – knew whether or not Myhill was going to have her license restored. So who told this patient of Myhill that she wasn’t going to be able to treat him again? Not Jones for sure.

Nor Ben Goldacre for that matter. I confess I’m not in the least concerned about CHS’s (and Rita Pal’s) bigger target, or about his web forum. I’d wager that for every disparaging comment made publicly about Myhill, a hundred more have been made about Goldacre. But, unlike Myhill, he doesn’t snivel and whine about the disparagement, nor try to get revenge on his critics. Why would he when he already enjoys the kind of influence that the likes of CHS-man, Pal  – and Myhill herself for that matter  – can only dream about?

It’s sad that CSH-man is so consumed with hatred that he would try to bring down a young clinical scientist who made a mistake, expressed remorse and has now served his sentence – but let’s look on the bright side. Not many people knew that Sarah Myhill is under a five-year warning from the GMC for exploiting patients’ ignorance and fears but, thanks to CSH-man’s malice waking me from blogging slumber, many more people will know now.

Update 8.1.14

*The full transcript of the HPC hearing has been very kindly been posted here. The passage about the alleged suicide starts towards the bottom of page 9.

As I’m sure you can imagine, one’s professional reputation is very important. Of course the business as well, patients stopped consulting me. In fact, there was one patient in particular who thought because I had been suspended I could no longer could be consulted. I don’t know if this happened directly as a result of that but the man deteriorated and he actually committed suicide. That’s just one example of how one patient was very seriously affected. I don’t know if that’s directly as part of Mr Jones’ blogging but it resulted.

This is the only reference to the alleged suicide in the whole transcript.

**I’m told that CSH-man is Clifford Miller, solicitor, erstwhile member of Andrew Wakefield’s legal team and that this is common knowledge because he used to state his name on his blog. I wonder why he doesn’t any more.

***I’ve since learned the story was only in the print edition of the Telegraph

5 Responses to Dr Sarah Myhill exploited patients’ lack of medical knowledge by arousing ill-found fears for their health, say GMC

  • So it seems that there is really no actual evidence that anyone did commit suicide, other than the claim from Sarah Myhill herself, and it now appears that the idea that Myhill might be suspended came from her, rather than anyone else?

    The conclusion is that if there even was a suicide victim here, then any contribution that the fear of not having a doctor made to his/her state of mind must have been sourced from Myhill in the first place, so would she bear any responsibility or liability with respect to that, should that have been the case?

    Additionally, it was not the complaint from Jones about the website which posed a threat to Myhill’s ongoing ability to look after any patients, it was the complaint from the GP practice regarding Myhill’s fitness to practice.

    You are right Skepticat. CHS-man must be a very warped and embittered individual to try and twist the facts to misrepresent reality in the way he has.

  • Good to see you have awoken from your slumber with no loss of acuity. It seems the quacks and the awful people associated with Wakefield just won’t go away!

    Gordon

  • I’m a little puzzled by this blog. You claim to present facts but use the language of supposition and conjecture, and resort to making unpleasant personal comments.

    I came to this blog because I am ill and I wanted to read a genuine, well thought out and unbiased blog about Dr Myhill as I have been considering consulting her. Sadly you have not produced that.

  • twiglet,
    what bias do you detect here? Skepticat has linked all her sources within the blog text.

  • Twiglet

    Everything I have said in this post is factual.

    As Vicky has pointed out, I have linked to all my sources and I too am curious to know what you perceive to be “supposition and conjecture” on my part. Could you give an example please? It may be that you failed to see the embedded links, which points to a design problem I would be keen to remedy (although this isn’t a problem anyone has raised before). You also claim that I make “unpleasant personal comments”. I don’t deny firing insults at Rita Pal in response to her insults towards me but the implication is that I have made personal comments about Sarah Myhill so, again, an example would be helpful. I would certainly consider editing the post if you can point out anything gratuitously insulting towards SM.

    I trust that in the interests of constructive debate you will respond positively in the comments here. If you don’t I’ll have no choice but to assume you are a drive-by troll who is anything but unbiased herself.

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