For a wee while now I've been writing to psychiatrists I know to ask if they have links with pharmaceutical companies, as a consultant or through "educational meetings" and receive payments. Email subject "declaration of funding, interests and links with pharmaceutical companies". And I've received a mixture of responses.
Some have said no links, another said that he was a consultant with Janssen but now isn't. Another sent back an Email that seemed to be a cut and paste job, quoting her health board area bumph but not really telling me if she did or did not have pharma links.
One psychiatrist has not responded since I first Emailed him on 6 March 2014, followed up by 2 further Emails, all of these copied in to a senior Scottish government mental health division manager, a GMC (General Medical Council) manager, a senior contact with the ABPI (Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry) and the Chief Executive of NHS Lothian.
This psychiatrist was one of my colleagues on the Scottish Crisis and Acute Care Network Steering Group which I was a member of for over 2 years until the beginning of this year. I worked with this psychiatrist on a workshop at the network conference last year in Stirling where I presented on 'Pathways and Perspectives – A Tale of Two Cities'.
I'm not sure why this psychiatrist isn't responding to my request regarding any links he might have with drug companies. NHS Lothian doesn't have a Register of Interests for their health board staff so I can't check up there. And of other Scottish health boards that do have Registers they don't all have declarations from doctors and psychiatrists eg in NHS Fife.
Psychiatrists/doctors are public servants, answerable and accountable to the public, is how I see it. And I'm the public while also having been a colleague of this doctor in question. Or I saw myself as a colleague and co-worker. Maybe he didn't see us as equals. I don't know. Or maybe his Email isn't working.
Hopefully this blog post will help oil the wheels of communication.