"...but the person who has nothing, even the little he has will be taken away from him"
A few facts by way of a personal summary of the case so far...
Dr Sarah Myhill is one of the few doctors who has the compassion and expertise to treat the medical condition of ME/CFS in the UK. She is much loved by the many patients she has successfully treated and who have benefitted from the advice on her website - but not by the medical establishment, who fail to understand her modern environmental medicine approach in which she is widely recognised as a pioneering figure.
Dr Myhill has been reported to the GMC 6 times before - every time by doctors and never by patients - no allegation was ever sufficient to be considered a case of misconduct, and Dr Myhill was cleared of all those allegations in 2007.
The latest allegation against Dr Sarah Myhill was raised via an anonymous web complaint by "Jonas" (believed to be a US citizen) from an internet forum called "Bad Science". Jonas criticised the information on Dr Myhill's website, and described Dr Myhill as an "uberquack". The ensuing discussion of treatment recommendations on Dr Myhill's website took an extremely offensive tone and caused enormous offence to many ME/CFS sufferers who, along with Dr Myhill, were repeatedly described in foul and abusive language by multiple members of the Bad Science forum. Many vicious and unfounded allegations were made during the course of this discussion, across multiple threads, and much of what was said, some of it later removed, was likely defamatory. The Bad Science forum is run by Ben Goldacre, who appears to have made no effort to control the discussion.
No evidence has been produced at any stage indicating any patient dissatisfaction with Dr Myhill, and in fact her former patients, including huge numbers of ME/CFS patients from around the world, have vigorously rallied to her side. Despite the alleged risk of the treatments recommended by Dr Myhill, no evidence of any negative patient outcomes has been advanced at any point, nor even suggested.
The GMC explained in its decision that it had not determined whether the latest allegations were true or not, but only whether they might represent a case of misconduct. This new procedure of the GMC's effectively means they can attack any doctor they wish, on the basis of anonymous allegations which may be completely unfounded, and the GMC does not even have to determine whether the allegations are true. In delivering their punishment they effectively decided that Dr Myhill was guilty until proven innocent.
Without determining the truth of the allegations, the GMC summarily suspended Dr Myhill's license to prescribe prescription-only medication, and instructed her to remove information on her website relating to cardiology, chest pain due to ischaemic heart disease, acute coronary syndrome, heart failure or pulmonary embolus, asthma, breast cancer, hormonal contraceptive medication, vascular disease, immunisation or vaccination.
These restrictions mean that Dr Myhill no longer has the right to freedom of clinical opinion, her ability to practice good and effective medicine is curtailed, and she is effectively banned from medical employment other than self employment.
The "dangerous treatments" Dr Myhill is alleged to advocate are detailed on her website, and she has been instructed to remove this advice. The information will of course remain mirrored on the internet, and this inevitable fact is outside the control of both Dr Myhill and the GMC. There has been no suggestion that it is illegal to publish this information, only that the GMC will not allow Dr Myhill to say these things.
It is allegedly typical of GMC investigations "that they have taken patients' private and confidential medical notes often without patients' knowledge, often without permission, without offering them their legal right to object and without anonymising their notes". Is this the next abuse the ME/CFS patient community has to face?
One of many scandals lying beneath the surface of this case is the fact that the tests, treatments and advice offered by Dr Myhill and others for ME/CFS are still not even considered for provision under the NHS. The huge amount of information now known about this condition is - in the UK - still unknown by doctors and dismissed by psychologists, apparently because the underlying research covers newer areas of medicine that lie outside the training and experience of both of GPs and of established researchers in the psychology-dominated field, but in reality political factors are hugely significant in understanding this highly conservative approach. ME/CFS is not treated medically in the UK at present, so it is (quite wrongly) perceived that any state-funded treatment would represent a new financial burden, and the powerful vested interests of those who control ME/CFS research and treatment as if it were a psychological condition continue to block any and all efforts both to research and to treat the condition medically.
And against all this background, we are invited to believe that the GMC simply happened to bring this case against the only practicing ME/CFS doctor in the UK, in response to this anonymous complaint, and just happened to hold the hearing on the Friday before the General Election, announcing the decision just too late to make the evening's news copy, and imposed a draconian order without reference to the truth of the evidence presented.
Assuming all this does not amount to a conscious and organised attack on environmental medicine and on ME/CFS patients and on any treatment that shows any prospect of successfully treating their condition as a physical rather than as a psychological illness, then it is at the very least a disorganised and spiteful one. ME/CFS patients and their advocates continue to feel relentlessly persecuted by a medical system that not only does not understand us, but does not appear to have the slightest interest in finding out about us, but we will continue to do our best to defend ourselves from these continued attacks and we will continue to fight for our right to access to medical treatment for our medical condition.
+1 - Excellent analysis.