Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 21 November 2019

There's apparently a complaint in with the Australian Commonwealth Ombudsman about the NHMRC's Homeopathy report

Update 4 Dec 2019: I've received a holding letter from the Ombudsman while they consider my request.

Well this'll be confusing :) The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a report on homeopathy in 2015 pointing out that it's not much cop and shouldn't be recommended as a treatment. Lots of homeopaths were very cross about that and apparently three homeopathy-supporting societies* put in a complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman the following year, in August 2016, saying that the NHMRC had done wrong.

It's now November 2019 (three years and three months on) and to my knowledge the Commonwealth Ombudsman has not produced a verdict (or indeed a peep) about the apparent complaint.

In April 2017 Edzard Ernst reported on an article in What Doctors Don't Tell You which said that a complaint had been submitted. The Australian Skeptics society tried (in May 2017 and August 2017) to find out if there really had been a submission to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and were told by a source in August there that there was no record of submission.

A news article from ECHAMP on 22 January 2019 said that the Commonwealth Ombudsman's verdict was imminent. Still no sign of it though.

I've emailed the Commonwealth Ombudsman (copy below) to see if I can find out any other information. I'm not an Australian citizen so they might just ignore me, or they might be unable to tell me anything about an ongoing investigation. It's also possible that I've phrased things in the wrong way and I need to get better at FOIA requests!

*The Australian Homeopathy Association, Complementary Medicines Australia and the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. According to the Homeopathy Research Institute these three bodies used some of the HRI's own analysis of the NHMRC 2015 report. The HRI wrote about the complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman but the other three organisations appear to have been rather quiet about it.

Dear Commonwealth Ombudsmen and Ombudswomen :-)

I am writing to you under the FOIA scheme to find out about the existence and status of a complaint apparently made by homeopathy societies to you in 2016 about the conduct of and report from the NHMRC. Please note that I am not an Australian citizen (I'm British) so I'm not sure if you will be able to respond to me but if so please let me know if there's a charge, I will be happy to contribute. My questions are in red.

The reason that I am asking if any complaint has been made is because the existence of this submission from homeopathic societies has been called into question by the Australian Skeptics who could find no record of it (in April 2017). They also reported (in August 2017) that it appears that no submission was received by you, so its status is a bit of a mystery!

On the Homeopathy Research Institute's (HRI) page (below) they claim in the first paragraph that the Commonwealth Ombudsman is in receipt of a complaint submission from the CMA, AHA and ATMS August 2016. 1. Please can you confirm if you have received a complaint document from those organisations relating to the NHMRC?

The second paragraph implies that you made an initial assessment of their complaint and found that it was of sufficient merit to warrant an investigation. 2. Please could you confirm that you (a) made this assessment of its merit and (b) found that it warranted further investigation.

3. Could you also confirm if an investigation was launched and what meetings (dates) were set up and with whom (organisations).

Source / Linked PDF for Executive Summary

A news article from 22 January 2019, from European Coalition on Homeopathic & Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ECHAMP) indicated that your verdict on this report was 'imminent'. 4. Are you preparing a verdict on any complaint you've received from these homeopathy societies?


5. If so, will such a verdict be made public, and when?

Thank you very much
Jo Brodie

No comments:

Post a comment

Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).