Alternative medicine council ousts critic

'Ofquack' dismisses professor who claims 'reflexology is bollocks'. Paul Jump reports

An academic has been sacked from a committee of the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council - dubbed "Ofquack" by opponents - after practitioners drew attention to his outspoken criticism of alternative medicine.

David Colquhoun, honorary Fellow and former chair of pharmacology at University College London, applied to join the "conduct and competence committee" of the CNHC when it was established in 2008 as a self-regulatory body for practitioners of alternative medicine.

"I presumed they wouldn't take me, and then I could write about it. But after a phone interview with executive chair Maggy Wallace, I was amazed to be offered the job," he explained in his blog last week.

He said the committee, which is charged with investigating complaints about alternative therapists, had not yet had any cases referred to it.

But the CNHC had moved to oust him after being made aware of an email circulating among alternative therapists highlighting some of his hostile remarks about alternative medicine - including the claim that "reflexology is bollocks".

The memo says that allowing him on to the committee is "like asking a racist to be objective about the circumstances of racist crime", and calls for a boycott by the CNHC.

Professor Colquhoun did not deny making the comments, but said his views did not render him incapable of dispassionately judging a misconduct case.

But he added that the CNHC's "dire" financial problems, resulting from its failure to meet targets for registering practitioners, had made his ousting "inevitable".

A statement he agreed with the committee says that "the make-up of CNHC needs to be focused and targeted to achieve the best outcomes for the organisation".

Ms Wallace admitted that some potential registrants were "finding it difficult to understand how (Professor Colquhoun) could contribute positively to the council", but she added: "There is another view that you shouldn't always ask your friends for comments if you really want to know how you are doing."

paul.jump@tsleducation.com.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Man measuring bar graphs with tape measure

An Elsevier analysis explores the viability of a ‘smarter and cheaper’ model

  • David Willetts

The former universities minister discusses the reforms that reshaped higher education and his first steps into academia

  • Man holding a box filled with work-related items

Refusal by John Allen to obey instruction from manager at Queen Mary University of London led to his sacking, tribunal rules

  • A black and white crowd scene with a few people highlighted

What are the key issues local union branches are dealing with, and how do they manage relationships with institutions in what many activists argue is an increasingly confrontational environment?

  • Muslim woman at graduation ceremony, Barbican, London

Sector called on to embrace faith-related concerns in intellectual debates