New Diploma in Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine


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Here at the Merseyside Skeptics Society, we heartily endorse awareness-raising publicity stunts. Obviously. After all, we organised for nearly 500 people worldwide to ‘overdose’ on homeopathic products. Pretty hard to deny our love of a good publicity stunt, then. Plus, on September 14th our BBC documentary involving the creation and distribution of homeopathic ‘QED Vodka’ will be screened. So, yeah, publicity stunts are our thing, really.

So when I saw that the Voice of Young Science are to take to the streets of London to hand out qualifications in Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine, I was very interested indeed. Unfortunately, I can’t make it along to the event, so my practice of traditional old-wives-tale remedies will have to remain strictly that of an unlicensed amateur, but if you’re around and free, why not pop along and get yourself a qualification? It beats spending 5 years learning to be a ‘Doctor’ of homeopathy, and leaves you just as qualified to treat people. Details of the event are below, and you can RSVP on Facebook too (if you do, tell them we sent you!).

New Diploma in Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine

Do you remember how your grandmother thought burns should be treated?  What happens to your hair if you don’t eat your crusts?  If you think you can answer questions like these and your hands are clean, why not become a registered practitioner of Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine?

The Voice of Young Science School of Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine will hit the streets of London on Wednesday, handing out diplomas for people to practice Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine. Young medics and researchers in lab coats will be registering members of the public who can correctly answer questions about traditional advice and cures.

Find out if you qualify for a diploma at the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall, SW1A 2NS, on Wednesday 8th September 11.30 – 12.30.

The VoYS Network is launching its Old Wives’ Traditional Medicine Accreditation Scheme to draw attention to the Department of Health’s proposed professional registration scheme for practitioners of traditional medicine, which will regulate everything except whether a practitioner has medical training or is practicing an evidence-based discipline.

In October 2009 a joint response objecting to the proposed professional registration scheme was submitted to the Department of Health’s Consultation by Sense About Science, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Institute of Biomedical Science, the Medical Research Society, the Medical Schools Council, the Physiological Society and the Royal College of Pathologists. Read the submission here.

Tamlyn Peel, Voice of Young Science: The assessment is free of charge, and just like the Department of Health’s proposed registration scheme, our diploma does not require medical training.”

Tracey Brown, Managing Director, Sense About Science: “The proposed professional accreditation scheme will give the impression that the practitioners have the knowledge, skills and attributes of qualified medical practitioners and will be misleading to the public.”

Dr Tom Nolan, Junior medic: “The scheme would do the opposite of protect the public. We are confronted with the possibility of misdiagnosis, the failure to provide suitable medical treatment and dangerous drug interactions.”

Julia Wilson, VoYS coordinator, Sense About Science: “A professional registration scheme for medical practitioners should not be offered simply to flatter tradition, and should always require medical training and evidence-based practice. This proposed scheme formalises the very practices and shoddy use of evidence that we are trying to drive out of medicine.”

Dr Oliver Fenwick, Voice of Young Science: “The proposed scheme is being justified on the basis of concerns about hygiene, English fluency and criminal records, despite the fact that schemes already exist to assess these.”

Professor David Colquhoun, Professor of Pharmacology, University College London: “An information tribunal recently judged that accreditation of university courses in alternative medicine was worthless. That is because courses in voodoo are accredited by believers in voodoo. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act we now know that these courses teach things that are not only nonsensical pseudo-science, but also pose a positive danger to patients. Such qualifications aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”

For further information please contact Julia Wilson or Leonor Sierra at Sense About Science.

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