MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

I know, I have written about this guy before – and I am likely to do so again – he is just too outstanding to pass by!

A few days ago, he was in the headlines again:  the Conservative health committee member David Tredinnick insisted that herbal medicine and even astrology should be given to patients in order to plug a growing hole in the NHS-budget: “I have referred to the fact that in some cultures astrology is part of healthcare because they need to have a voice and I’ve got up and said that,” he told Channel Four News. “But I also think we can reduce the bill by using a whole range of alternative medicine including herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy…We could probably save five per cent of the [NHS] budget.”

Unbelievably, a man with such views is a member of the science and technology committee! This really does instil trust in politics!!!

His track record regarding the promotion of quackery might even dwarf that of Prince Charles; earlier this year he told MPs that astrology should be used to replace some “conventional” medicines on the NHS: “I am absolutely convinced that those who look at the map of the sky for the day that they were born and receive some professional guidance will find out a lot about themselves and it will make their lives easier,” he told the Commons. “I hope that in future we stop looking just at increasing the supply of drugs and consider the way that complementary and alternative medicine can reduce the demand for drugs, reduce pressures on the health service, increase patient satisfaction, and make everyone in this country happier.”

Speaking recently while thousands of NHS workers were on strike, he defended their pay freeze, stating that NHS’s budget was “finite”. However, asked whether he planned to take his own upcoming 9% pay rise, he refused to answer: “I’m not getting drawn on MPs pay… I’m not answering that question on this programme because we’re dealing with the health service.” Pushed further, he suggested that the rise was necessary in order to make MPs “good public servants… All members of parliament will be given a pay rise which is been set by an independent authority. Most of those members of parliament will take that pay rise because that is what is deemed necessary to have good public servants,” he insisted.

But is he really a “good public servant” ???

Addressing parliament about its ‘evidence check’ on homeopathy which came out squarely against it, Tredinnick once stated: “It is my belief that the advice the Clerks provided to the Science and Technology Committee Chairman was inadequate, in that the evidence taken by the Committee in its evidence check on homeopathy was biased, as they did not call representatives of the homeopathic profession and instead chose a professor who did not represent the alternative medicine world. They chose the one person who would give an answer that suited those who were in opposition.”  The professor he refers to is Edzard Ernst, I think! When I was invited to give evidence to the committee, Tredinnick was in the audience; I saw him as we were waiting to go in and even had a chat with him. So, he must remember that sitting next to me were several defenders of homeopathy, amongst them the Queen’s homeopath himself.

Perhaps Tredinnick just forgot!

He couldn’t be lying, could he?

No, a good public servant wouldn’t do that!

12 Responses to Tory MP David Tredinnick: “perhaps the worst example of scientific illiteracy in government.” But is he also a liar?

  • I was at the same committee session and I definitely remember several homeopaths, representatives of homeopathic manufacturers, etc there.

    In fact, the Evidence Check report itself, lists them on page 51:

    Witnesses
    Wednesday 25 November 2009

    Robert Wilson, Chairman, British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers
    Dr Peter Fisher, Director of Research, Royal London Homeopathic Hospital
    Dr Robert Mathie, Research Development Adviser, British Homeopathic Association

    How did Tredinnick manage to forget all of them?

    Oh, and they also had written evidence from a plethora of homeopaths and homeopathy trade bodies.

    • “Robert Wilson, Chairman, British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers”
      Great title for being the head of a body that produces useless sugar water. Where can I get a job for a body that represents manufacturers of nothing.

      “Dr Peter Fisher, Director of Research, Royal London Homeopathic Hospital”
      Simple question; where is it? Surely, after all this time he should have something to show for all of his “research”? Who knows, maybe he spends all of his time talking to the reason why the British monarchy should end now?

      “Dr Robert Mathie, Research Development Adviser, British Homeopathic Association”
      I don’t know for what he got his PhD, but he is a master of the non sequitur (I don’t know whether doctorates are awarded for that).

  • Tredinnick is a complete fruitcake. How he ever got on the Science and Technology Committee is a complete mystery. I have yet to see any explanation of that.

    As for homeopathy being called a profession (def: a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science), how can something with zero evidence base be esteemd like that.

    As for the M.P.s pay rise, how about watering it down for him, then, according to the principles of homeopathetic, he should become ane even more effective public servant.

  • Re “He couldn’t be lying, could he?”

    Good question. Let’s not forget that he voted to exempt MPs from the Freedom of Information Act, and in the 1990s he was suspended in the cash-for-questions debacle…
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jun/25/health-select-committee-david-redinnick

  • To become an MP, or even the Prime Minister, which of the following are mandatory:
    1. Mastery of critical thinking skills.
    2. Thorough understanding of statistics.
    3. Solid foundation in the sciences.
    4. Good understanding of medicine and the NHS.
    5. Business skills.
    6. A long record of being trustworthy.
    7. Placing the interests of the public above personal gain.

    As a fun exercise, go through that list again after substituting “MP” for “astrologer” then compare your findings.

  • I always think that folk like Tredinnick should be obliged to wear an alert bracelet reading “In case of accident or serious illness, apply no orthodox medicine”.

  • It seems to me that public servants would be at their very best if they received low or NO pay (some expenses for travel and such perhaps), but rather volunteered out of a sense of civic duty and patriotism. I have suggested the same for the US Congress.

    His muddled thinking would also indicated that the NHS strikers should definitely get a pay rise–if we are to have the best people, that is (according to his own logic).

  • I have complained to my MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, who is now Chairman of the Health Select Committee about the standards applied by MPs in electing members to that committee. I am told “no one else stood.”

    I was not impressed by DT’s (is the clue in the initials?) interview on C4 which was supposed to be about nurses pay.
    He insisted that he would not discuss MP’s pay, but that in any event that had been decided by “an independent body.”

    He was not pressed (as he should have been) on the point that nurses (and all NHS workers) pay claims had also been decided by independent review bodies. Which (unlike recommendations for MPs) have been ignored by DT’s government.

    Is there a viable candidate for DT’s constituency (Bosworth) at the next general election? That is the only solution.
    All candidates must be briefed about EE’s postings.

    • I wrote to my MP pointing out that Tredinnick is an embarrassment to his party, and that his agenda is orthogonal to the purposes of the committees on which he sits. Naturally party loyalty won out. If any skeptics are members of the Tory party they should be lobbying their constituency associations to press Tredinninck to leave these committees. Those of us who are not members can of course point and laugh, na d perhaps exert influence that way….

  • Tredinnick is probably not a liar, he is so divorced from reality that I doubt disconfirming facts ever make it into what passes for his mind.

    Of course the claim that the Committee did not hear homeopaths is trivially proven to be false. Their names are, as Alan says, in the report, and the records of their submissions are included. There was even video, which, if I recall correctly, included a representative of a homeopathy manufacturer (Boots?) admitting that the “remedies” can are distinguished only by their labels. Peter Fisher undoubtedly gave evidence, I watched the recording. So did Robert Mathie.

    The voices of homeopaths were heard. Their problem is that so was the reality-based community. In any dispassionate review, that tends to mean the homeopaths lose, as they did in Switzerland and also now in Australia.

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