Les Rose is a biologist by training, and spent most of his career managing clinical trials of new medicines. He developed a specialism in the application of formal project management to clinical research, and for some 15 years delivered a training programme in the discipline. Les operated as a consultant to clinical trial sponsors, usually pharmaceutical companies, which involved the whole range of activities from protocol writing to final report. He joined the UK charity HealthSense 20 years ago, and has been a trustee for most of that time. He is a Chartered Biologist, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Clinical Research. Now retired, he campaigns in support of evidence based health care. This includes research into the effectiveness of regulation, writing papers for publication, and media appearances. What little time is left over is devoted to choral singing, maintaining a classic car, and flying radio controlled model aircraft.
Misleading the public: can charities be trusted?
The Charity Commission for England and Wales is charged by government with regulating charities in those regions. Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own regulators. The relevant core legislation is The Charities Act 2000. Over 168,000 charities fall within the remit of the Charity Commission, of which 28,400 operate with the charitable purpose “The advancement of health or the saving of lives”.The Act requires that to be a charity an organisation must register a charitable purpose from a defined list, and must in addition prove that it operates for public benefit. Over more than a decade the author has identified many charities which make misleading claims about health. Examples are charities which promote homoeopathy, reiki, iridology, and astrology. None of these charities could be satisfying the public benefit test. Using the Commission’s formal complaints process has elicited very little action. The presentation will describe the range of methods used to try to get regulatory action, illustrated with specific cases. The implications for public health and the public understanding of health science will be discussed.
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