Monday, 7 March 2011

BMJ bias: the sorry Needham saga

The following letter has been signed by a number of doctors and sent to the BMJ, the author has sent it on to me to publish here just in case the BMJ decide not to stick it up on their website. It focuses on the BMJ's strange decision to give Gillian Needham a free shot of self justification the other week. The BMA has subsequently published only a small percentage of the rapid responses on their website, they have also only published by far the least critical letters in print form. BMJ bias, you work it out:

"We, the undersigned, believe that we represent a broad cross section of the medical profession from UK shores and as such, we believe that the BMJ's decision to publish Gillian Needham's 'personal view' was a massive editorial error (1) for which the BMJ should apologise. The BMJ's consequent editorial decision to publish only two of the least critical responses to Gillian Needham's twisted and one-sided tale of self-justification in print is both disappointing and unrepresentative of the general feeling of the medical profession. Perhaps the BMJ is hoping that the focus on their initial editorial error will shift and that by failing to publish the other side of the story fairly this process will be catalysed. Whatever the motivations were behind these editorial decisions, I would like to register my disapproval of the BMJ's coverage of this whole affair. Would the BMJ care to apologise or at least attempt to justify its biased coverage of Needham’s flagrant abuse of her position of medical power?

1. Needham, G. Free speech and professional duty: why I couldn’t fight tabloid rumours. BMJ 2011; 342:d752 "

I wonder if the BMJ will respond on this, I cannot imagine they will apologise, even though it is clear they should do, the editorial decision that allowed Needham's personal view to be printed was a massive error of judgement.

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