Dr Neil MacFarlane BA MBBS MA JCTGP MRCPsych
I am an independent UK psychiatrist, first registered with the GMC in 1986 (3205688). Since early 2018 I have been campaigning on several issues related to ‘conflicts of interest’. The psychiatric establishment, which is the leadership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), has colluded with extremist antipsychiatry (so-called ‘critical psychiatry’ and ‘critical psychology’), and allowed a decline in the funding of mental health services in the UK, relative to overall NHS funding. This, with some other factors, has resulted in increasingly coercive use of both medication and psychotherapy. The use of psychiatric drugs is considerably cheaper, so that tends to be favoured.
Some examples of my campaigning work are outlined below. All my complaints to the GMC, and other bodies, have been made public on this website, usually when they were submitted.
March 2018: Complaint about Professor Carmine Pariante to the RCPsych. Pariante (a ‘RCPsych spokesperson’) was falsely claiming in the media BBC, Mail) that the Lancet ‘Network Meta-analysis of antidepressants’ had ‘put to bed’ questions about their efficacy. I wrote that this was based upon a false claim, in the paper, that the Cochrane Collaboration stated the ‘funnel plot’ method (of statistical analysis) could reliably rule out publication bias. When I did not not receive a timely response to my RCPsych complaint I complained about that to the GMC.
Outcome: Pariante, and the paper’s lead author, professor Cipriani of Oxford university, dropped the claim. Since then, Pariante & others have been much more cautious about promoting mass prescribing of antidepressants. Regrettably, two leading ‘critical psychologists’ have themselves over-endorsed antidepressant efficacy, and I will be publishing a full piece on that.
April and November 2018: I published pieces about the abusive online behaviour of patient campaigner Bob Fiddaman and others. Such behaviour suits the psychiatry establishment, as a distraction from their wrongdoing and incompetence.
Outcome: support for Mr Fiddaman has been flat, despite significant public discussion and policy change directly relevant to his own key concern of antidepressant withdrawal. More prominent campaigners rarely engage with him. However, his refusal to apologise remains a problem, and I will continue raising the issue online.
September 2018: Complaint to the Maudsley Hospital, that their CEO Dr Mathew Patrick MRCPsych, had failed to properly investigate and publicise a complaint about ‘misogynist’ consultant psychiatrist Dr Paul Morrison FRCPsych.
Outcome: In January 2019 it was announced that Dr Patrick was leaving his post.
March 2019: Complaints about Dr Morrison to the GMC. 1. Dr Morrison had falsely claimed, both publicly and privately (to myself), that ‘nothing was upheld’ of the original February 2018 complaint about ‘misogynistic’ online behaviour to SLAM, made by others. That complaint had, in fact, been ‘partially upheld’, although no significant sanction had followed. 2. Dr Morrison had behaved unreasonably towards myself, in not answering my reasonable questions, and in threatening legal action for libel, if I did not remove the September 2018 complaint about Dr Patrick from my website.
Outcome: Dr Morrison had been very active on Twitter, over-promoting the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, and offensively undermining the accounts of people who had experienced drug harms. He has been off Twitter, with a couple of brief and muted re-appearances, since my complaint. Dr Morrison’s NHS work at the Maudsley Hospital ended, without any public announcement. However, it appears that he is still doing research at the Maudsley’s academic partner, the Institute of Psychiatry, and I continue to encourage the original complainants to properly appeal their complaint, on the basis that no proper sanction or investigation was made. Dr Morrison’s threat to sue me never led to a letter from a lawyer, and the one-year deadline for him to pursue that expired in September 2019. I never removed the piece he objected to.
July 2019: Complaint about Dr Christian Jessen (TV doctor) to GMC. He had Tweeted that the parent of a teenager with a chronic-fatigue-type syndrome, believed by the family to be due to HPV vaccine, was a ‘dick head’ talking ‘bullshit’. Other abusive Tweets, such as ‘loon’.
Outcome: Dr Jessen has stopped his abusive behaviour on Twitter. The GMC refused to investigate, but acknowledged my complaint as ‘appropriate’, in lengthy responses. The GMC originally cited ‘free speech’, but that argument was dropped after I appealed, arguing that the Medical Act 1983 provided a clear basis to curtail such freedom.
June 2019 to July 2020: Eleven pieces about the ‘Cumberlege Review’, officially called the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review (IMMDSR). The first two covered failure to properly publicise the Review, and the psychiatry establishment’s failure to properly submit evidence on the issue of ‘conflicts of interest’. I then discovered that two of the five-person Review team had serious undeclared conflicts of interest. I spoke with several patient campaigners: most were concerned about ‘gaslighting’ (doctors undermining the accounts of their symptoms, by suggesting mental disorder).
Outcome: Most patient campaigners were expecting a whitewash. Instead, the IMMDSR Report recommended a new ‘Patient Safety Commissioner‘. I continue to highlight the one key element of whitewash in the Report: it failed to mention the obstruction of patient complaints to NHS Trusts and to the GMC.
October 2019 – present: Submission to MHRA Review on psychiatric and sexual adverse effects of isotretinoin (Roaccutane/Accutane). I argued that the drug should be suspended for under-eighteens, and a mandatory consent form for all adults be introduced. I also made GMC complaints about three senior MHRA advisers.
Outcome: The drug company, Roche, appears to have stopped citing published research on suicidality, which I had argued was unreliable. The MHRA Review is ongoing.
January 2021: I will publish my submission to NICE on ME/CFS, arguing that the PACE trial was seriously unethical, and should be retracted as a trial of treatment.
Other selected pieces:
Selected Blog piece #1: Prescribed Harm from Psychiatric Drugs: a Manifesto
Selected Blog piece #2: ‘The Inflamed Mind’ by Ed Bullmore: book review
Selected Blog piece #3: How ‘Drop the Disorder!’ colludes with the neoliberalism it claims to oppose
I can currently offer informal consultations on a limited basis. I gave up prescribing medication (and the GMC ‘licence’ required for that) in 2014. The GMC restored my ‘licence’ in early 2019, along with many other doctors who were not prescribing, or working in the NHS, in case we were needed urgently for C-19 work.
While training in Medicine (BA MBBS) at Cambridge University and Guy’s Hospital I became seriously interested in mental health in 1984-5, studying with Dr Maurice Lipsedge (Aliens and Alienists) and Dr Paul Bridges (psychiatrist to the UK’s last major psychosurgery unit). In 1985-6 I was an elective student at the Maudsley Hospital and attended the teaching and research seminars of Dr Alwyn Lishman, Dr Gerald Russell (who first described Bulimia Nervosa) and Dr Michael Rutter.
After six months at the ‘Transcultural Psychiatry Unit’ in Bradford, I became a trainee in Manchester, regarded by many at that time as the leading psychiatry centre in the UK. Among other names well-known within mental health, I worked for Dr Phil Thomas (Postpsychiatry), Dr David Goldberg (the first psychiatrist to be knighted in decades), and Dr Digby Tantam.
I have always been interested in psychosocial causes and treatments of mental disorder. In the 1990s I gained supervised experience in several different modalities of psychotherapy, and took part in a weekly psychodrama group. In 1999-2001 I obtained two years of certified systemic therapy training at Leeds University.
In the late nineties I took part in a focus group about an advertisement for Risperdal and was paid £20: I said that I thought the advert was misleading and they ran it anyway! I accepted meals at Pharma-sponsored ‘educational activities’, as did most trainees. I also had Pharma-funded accommodation in Manchester and Oxford over two weekends as a trainee: both actually had minimal Pharma input.
In 1994 I became a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) and then trained as a GP (JCTGP certificate). I returned to psychiatry in 1997, and from 1999-2008 I was an NHS Specialist Registrar and Consultant in Adult Developmental Psychiatry. At the end of that time I also worked for the Priory Group to return patients from hospitals up to 250 miles away, and as a visiting consultant to a residential home for people with autistic spectrum disorder.
From 2005-8 I was an honorary senior lecturer at the University of Kent, and taught on the masters degree course in psychiatry.
After practising as an independent specialist with a focus on adult ADD / ADHD in Wimpole Street (part of ‘Harley Street’), London, until 2014, I decided to stop prescribing medication and gave up my (then, wholly private) practice.
In 2013 I completed an MA in Victorian Studies, and for the next 3-4 years focused on a range of issues in the Medical Humanities.
In 2017 I resumed my interest in mental health and developmental conditions. I have clarified my position as ‘Pro-diagnosis but Pharma-sceptic’, in the current UK context. This Blog contains opinion and facts informed by science and non-science.
I have had an anxiety disorder (early 1980s). I declined advice to try antidepressants when I had moderate-to-severe depression for 2 years in the early 1990s, but then self-medicated semi-emperimentally with Prozac (fluoxetine) for two months after a mild relapse in the late 1990s. I see myself as having mild-to-moderate ADD but have not tried ADD/ADHD medication.
I can currently offer informal consultations and provide informal advice on how to enhance support and treatment from NHS GPs, other doctors, and mental health professionals. I can also provide opinion about NICE guidance and other sources of ‘Evidence based Medicine’.
The GMC has never investigated any complaint made against me by a patient. When I was working in ‘Harley Street’ an NHS consultant made a complaint: the investigation was dropped by the GMC after the NHS consultant later agreed with my diagnosis and treatment plan. I counter-complained that the NHS consultant had lied to the patient, but the GMC ignored my evidence. The GMC investigated various anonymous and other complaints in 2018-9, obtaining my suspension from the register for eleven months: I did not acknowledge any wrongdoing or make any apology, and the GMC withdrew all their allegations. I am considering legal action against the GMC for their vexatious behaviour which, given the dishonesty at the very top of that organisation, seems likely to have been encouraged by the psychiatry establishment.
I have always tried to promote constructive communication between NHS patients and NHS professionals and managers, however on occasion formal complaints may be useful and necessary.
Please email initial enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I welcome any offers of work, for a reduced fee or no fee, from the NHS, charities, or other organisations.