The Society of Homeopaths have recently had their 30th Anniversary Annual General Meeting and Conference at Leicester University. Lots of pop and cake were undoubtedly consumed. Various guest speakers were there talking nonsense and various ‘breakout’ sessions allowed homeopaths to share their delusional experience with each other.
One session will be on “Perils and pitfalls in practice” given by Patricia Moroney the current Professional Conduct Officer. She says,
There will be an opportunity for you to assess the professional conduct issues that arise in a variety of situations. The workshop will be a fun and interactive way to engage with The Code of Ethics and Practice.
Now, undoubtedly ‘Trish’ has been having some fun with the code of ethics over the past year. A few months ago, the Society of Homeopaths produced the first documented expulsion of a member ever. The Quackometer has repeatedly criticised SoH for not taking action against members who obviously flout their rules and not being transparent and accountable in their approach to professional conduct. Could the Society be listening?
The Society claim in their Review of 2007 to have made only one formal investigation,
During 2007, The Professional Conduct Department responded to over a hundred logged telephone calls, letters and emails from members and the general public. Many of the queries arose from misunderstandings or lack of information. The majority were resolved swiftly through means of advice or where necessary mediation. During 2007 the department conducted one Adjudication Panel hearing. The complaint was upheld.
That is surprising given the fact that many bloggers have sent in complaints about members, fellows and directors of SoH who are blatantly breaching the Society rules. My own efforts to complain are well documented on this site. One complaint resulted in SoH taking legal action against me rather than address my concerns.
and so on.
So, the unlucky recipient of a Society of Homeopaths reprimand was a Mr David Evans of the North West College of Homeopathy.
What events resulted in this investigation?
We do not know.
All we know is the list of rules he was supposed to have broken. These range from “avoid disclosing any information concerning a patient to a third party without the patient’s written consent” and “Maintenance of appropriate records” to rather more disturbing rules such as “Maintaining appropriate boundaries Homeopaths, are responsible for avoiding exploitation of their patients financially, emotionally, sexually; or in any other way.” and “Where a patient, student, or supervisee is expressing feelings towards the homeopath, tutor, or supervisor which cause problems for the maintenance of professional boundaries and the professional- for whatever reason- is unable to resolve the situation in an acceptable manner the professional relationship is to be ended”
The Society do not tell us what the defendant was supposed to have done wrong. Perhaps it is a new parlour game. Look at the list of rules breached and imagine the story that led to the hearing. What fun.
And what is the result of the hearing?
The Panel recommended to the Board of The Society of Homeopaths that Mr. David Evans be expelled from The Society with immediate effect. The Board ratified the recommendation of the Panel to be effective from 11th March 2008.
Now, the whole debate about regulation is how the public are best protected against dangerous practices and people who should, perhaps, not be in positions of trust. Is the Society of Homeopaths capable of fulfilling this role? What has the effect of this ruling been? To my best knowledge, the only effect has been the removal of the letters RSHom from the web site of the place where the subject of the investigation works.
So far, I have been complaining that organisations never use their code of ethics to protect the public from harm. Now that they have tried to do so, we are confronted with the obvious futility, uselessness and deceptive nature of the whole facade.
Such is the weakness of voluntary self-regulation. The government see this as the way forward for all of alternative medicine by setting up Ofquack, the new ‘federal’ register of all alternative healers. Just like the Society of Homeopaths, the code of ethics for Ofquack will be more about putting a veneer of professionalism on the indefensible rather than protecting the public.