Response from Ian Balmer, CE of RSM to John Greensmith

Dr John Greensmith has received a response on the This is North Devon website from Mr Ian Balmer, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Medicine.  Comments, which may be selected for publication in the paper edition, can be left on the website.

From John Greensmith

18 April 2008

My letter about the forthcoming Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) Conference, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome’, on 28 April 2008 (copy below my signature), has elicited this reply from Mr Ian Balmer, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Medicine:

Reply to letter, Sufferers of ME need support, Dr John H Greensmith
published in North Devon Journal, 17 April 2008

I write in response to Dr John Greensmith’s letter (North Devon Journal, 17 April 2008) criticising the Royal Society of Medicine over supposed bias of a forthcoming conference on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

The RSM holds over 400 meetings a year as part of its programme of medical education for doctors. A small number of these are aimed at the general public but our conference on CFS is not such a meeting.

It has been set up to contribute to health practitioners’ understanding of this debilitating and distressing condition.

The causes of CFS are not clear and our agenda was drawn up to reflect current thinking on its diagnosis an treatment, as outlined in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

We are aware that Dr John Greensmith and some sufferers of the condition are unhappy that psychiatrists will be giving presentations at the meeting. This has nothing to do with distortion, nor is it immoral or unscientific. The content of the meeting is, instead, well-grounded in evidence-based medicine and has been planned by a broad-based academic planning group.

Dr Greensmith does not make clear what he means by censorship and selective editing but his accusation of inappropriate association with an insurance company is completely untrue. No representative from any insurance company was invited to speak nor involved in the programme planning. Nor has any insurance company contributed any sponsorship to the meeting.

There are many groups aimed at sufferers of ME/CFS and their carers. There is no way that our conference – aimed at doctors – could include representatives from so many organisations. We will be holding a meeting for sufferers of CFS as part of our Medicine and Me series, which aim to bring together patients, carers, researchers, doctors and other health practitioners to discuss care and research issues in a particular condition.

Yours sincerely
Ian Balmer
Chief Executive
Royal Society of Medicine
1 Wimpole Street
London W1G 0AE

John writes:

May I suggest, for truly representative coverage of the strength of feeling about this conference that as man individuals and ME spport groups, from around the World, as can manage, reply to Ian Balmer, Chief Executive:

(1) either in writing, addressed to the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London W1G 0AE or by e-mail to all lower case ian dot balmer at sign rsm dot ac dot uk)

(2) copy it to (or rework it to suit) the letters page of the North Devon Journal, where this reply appeared. e-mail address: (all lower case, no spaces letters at sign northdevonjournal dot co dot uk)

(3) copy it to us at ME Free For All. org with permission to post it on our website with the other letters on the same subject.

I know how much energy it takes to do these things, especially when you are not feeling well but I urge you not to miss this opportunity.

I, also, remind ME sufferers who live abroad that, although this conference is to be held in the UK, its agend affects people with ME in all parts of the world and I hope that you will want to have your say too.

Dr John H Greensmith
ME Free For All

(North Devon Journal, 17 April 2008)

There is more than a little disquiet about the forthcoming Royal Society of Medicine Conference, “Chronic fatigue syndrome”, scheduled for April 28, because its agenda is wholly biased towards the mental health perspective of ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) as an illness of psychiatric origin – for which there is no evidence, and completely away from its neurological classification – for which there is an abundance. If not wholesale schism, there is an unprecedented rift in the ME community because only one organisation has been invited to attend.

Whatever the motives for this, there is a higher priority put on self-interest than on ME.

There will be a peaceful protest outside the Wimpole Street and Henrietta Street entrances of the venue. Those who are too ill to participate are encouraged by the “On a postcard please” campaign to address their concerns to the Dean, Dr John Scadding, 1 Wimpole Street W1G 0AE.

The responses, so far, have not been from firebrand activists but from a cross section of people, whose live have been affected by this disabling illness, including doctors and researchers, of at least equal qualification and authority with the ones chosen to speak at this meeting, who have written of their uneasiness about professional conduct and ethics to national newspapers, the Dean of the RSM and even to the Queen suggesting removing Royal Patronage because of an inappropriate association with an insurance company. There is also a video on, which has been made to allow free expression of opinion.

This is possibly the shabbiest episode in ME history.

There are professionals imposing their speciality, as well as individuals and organisations, purporting to represent people with ME, who ought to consider their positions.

Yours sincerely
Dr John H Greensmith
ME Free For All

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