Essex CFS Service apologise for letter to the BMJ | ‘naive’ of authors not to consider wider implications| 20 June 2014

June 20, 2014

This just in – in response to our complaint sent earlier today.

Dear Dr Shepherd

Thank you for your email.

The article you refer to has not been sanctioned by the Essex CFS/ME service and does not represent the views of the Essex CFS/ME service or Southend University Hospital NHS Trust.

It also does not necessarily represent the views of the authors.

In the first instance, I have instructed the Trust’s communication department to contact the BMJ to remove any reference to the Essex CFS/ME service and Southend University Hospital from the response.

I have also been informed by the authors that the submission is to be removed.

This piece was written purely as a hypothetical deliberation.

It does not reflect the authors’ views on the realities of living with, managing or treating CFS/ME.

It was naïve of the authors not to consider the implications of a wider publication via the internet of what was intended to spark debate in the medical arena.

They are very sorry for any distress they may have caused.

Kind Regards

Noreen Buckley
Head of Rehabilitation/Essex CFS Service Manager

Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Prittlewell Chase I Westcliff-on-Sea I Essex I SS0 0RY
Tel: 01702 435555 ext 6696 I Email:
Personal assistant/Secretary: Jill Butten ext 8646

Visit our website:

10 thoughts on “Essex CFS Service apologise for letter to the BMJ | ‘naive’ of authors not to consider wider implications| 20 June 2014”

  1. Thank you Dr Shepherd for yet again fighting another battle for us. This was a cruel assault more worthy of Rod Liddle than two supposedly intelligent people who didn’t have the intellect or empathy to understand what harm their words would inflict. ‘It was suppose to be a hypothetical deliberation’ well next time may they ‘hypothetically deliberate’ on some other illness as this one has had more than its share.

  2. “It also does not necessarily represent the views of the authors.”

    This is plainly ridiculous.

  3. The “Essex CFS Service” at Southend University Hospital claims that the “article” below (which is actually just a comment posted in response to a BMJ article) “does not reflect the authors’ views.”

    That is not a typo! The article doesn’t does not reflect the views of the physicians who wrote the article! This is how they try to get out of responsibility for spreading their own harmful memes (in their case I’d call it “Idea Pollution”) about ME.

    The CFS Service adds ‘it was naïve of the authors not to consider the implications of a wider publication via the internet of what was intended to spark debate in the medical arena.” That’s more than a little ironic considering that the ‘article’ focused on how the internet is notorious for rapidly spreading memes. (In fact this was the justification for attempting to shield patients from researching ME “cfs” on the internet!)

    There’s too much sewage in this “rapid response” comment he made to an already sickening enough article on ME by Dr. Peter White, to highlight it all. Here’s a taste. Get out your barf bag.

    “What is the practical use of viewing CFS as a meme?

    Harmful memes can be displaced by benign memes, or influenced to evolve towards benignity. The mechanisms of bringing this about, as applied for instance in the ‘deprogramming’ of cultists may have useful applications in ‘dememeing’ CFS sufferers. Of course, GET and CBT, the sole treatments with significant evidence for the efficacy in CFS treatment, could be viewed as processes of dememeing.

    Following this model, avoiding reinforcing of the meme would be advisable: avoidance of CFS (ME) peer groups; discouragement from indiscriminate reading around the subject (particularly on the Internet, a notoriously efficient spreader of memes); avoidance wherever possible of labelling sufferers with a diagnosis of CFS. Involvement of family therapists in treatment would be beneficial, to explore and combat vertical transmission.”

  4. I am intrigued as to why they are posting on an article that was written 10 years ago. And kind of proves my recent comment on Twitter that these ‘CFS/ME’ centres are not treating Ramsay ME. Their ignorance is chilling – and ‘hypothetical deliberation’ does not get them off the hook.

  5. Whilst the retraction of the letter from the BMJ and the apology are welcome, I’m afraid that the damage has already been done and the explanation of what happened is wholly unsatisfactory. Do they think that we are completely gullible and stupid?
    How on earth can the views expressed in the letter “not necessarily represent those of the authors?
    Working as they do, for the CFS Advisory Service, the positions of both of them is clearly untenable and if they had any kind of moral principle, then they would resign. I’m quite sure that they won’t. They have irretrievably shown themselves for what they really are, so they ought to be terminated on the basis of being unsuited to the job and for gross misconduct.

  6. Will Essex CFS Service ensure that the BMJ publishes their apology, together with a proper explanation of the author’s conduct, as prominently /in the same location as the original letter ?

    Given that the Essex CFS Service’s corrective actions are plainly inadequate, will the ME Association be raising a complaint against the two doctors concerned with the General Medical Council and pressing for them both to face a Fitness to Practice hearing?

  7. These two individuals are my consultant and my physiotherapist. Correction, _were_ my consultant and my physiotherapist.

  8. Thank you for lodging the complaint Dr Shepherd.
    Essex CFS Service says: “It also does not necessarily represent the views of the authors.”
    Could the authors explain what their views of CFS and ME are?
    Will the authors be apologising for themselves, or will they continue to hide behind Essex Service?
    It would be good to hear them take responsibility for their statements and to hear their current views.

  9. I do think it is incumbent upon the ‘authors’ to explain themselves.

    Will the MEA be writing to the service again explainin that the reply is simply not good enough and sending some of the comments here and on Facebook that people have made about it – just ask I’m sure we would be happy to contribute.

    It also needs pointng out to Collings that he has a moral (if not legal) duty to not cause harm – he has! They all have.

    I sometimes wonder if I am in a Kafka novel as staged by Beckett.

    The admin’s reply is absurdism of the highest order.

Comments are closed.

Shopping Basket