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Email Hilary Butler:
Jim Unsworth says that the parent "has a clear legal responsibility to take decisions which are in the child's best interests." His next question implies that he considers parents who chose not to vaccinate their children are not acting in their child's best interests. That is a matter of his personal opinion. That doesn't make it fact. He also considers that information which doesn't come from doctors who support immunisation is not accurate and therefore the "ensuing choice is not informed". How often is medical information, provided by doctors, "informed consent"? In my experience, almost never.
How many times does Jim Unsworth give a parent the MMR International Physicians Circular, and the manufacturer's data, and go through with the parents, the meaning and significance of the adverse events listed? Or does he pressure them for an on-the-spot decision on the basis that "everyone who is a good parents just does it."?
I'm sure he tells them that if they don't vaccinate, their child might die. But what about the rest? So...., do his parents get given the opportunity to make a thoughtful, considered, unhurried informed choice?
As a parent of two children who has had to fend off hospital doctors wanting to have "their way", I have, on numerous occasions, when a procedure or drug has been ordered, refused to sign consent. Doctors have often argued with me - until I have provided THEM with the full medical information on that drug or procedure, to which there is usually a stunned silence. Once there was outright anger that I had intruded into "their" domain.
In answer to the question "Why did you not tell me all this?" the reply is usually "You don't need to know that." This appears to be very common. The attitude seems to be "We only want you to know what we think you should know".
A parent has a clear moral and legal duty to make decisions taking into account the fact that doctors in general seem to consider "informed consent" to mean unquestioningly doing what they want. It may be that the decision parents make is the opposite to what the doctor wants to do. And it may be that the parent is right for their child. But for a doctor to suggest that vaccination constitutes "the child's best interest", is somewhat bizarre.
Richard Whitmore, like Jim Unsworth appears to feel the need to protect his position. I would suggest to him that he does not "weald" (wield) any power at all. He is "employed" by the people of his area, for without them he would not have had a medical practice, or a job. His title would seem to be that of a "public servant".
And prior to the use of the MMR, for nearly 25 years, his profession touted single measles and rubella vaccines to parents as fully effective, and the saviour of mankind. He states that single vaccines have not been subjected to the same level of scrutiny as the MMR. Obviously 25 years experience counts for less than 10 years?.... or does something seem a little amiss here? Or were they only any good until the MMR came along? Or is it really a matter of who has control here?
All parents do the best they can for their children, but some know far less about good parenting skills than others. And many do not realise how little they know. If Richard Whitmore is really interested in maximum survival of all children from any known cause, he would be better doing two things:
1) Educating parents about the value of long-term breastfeeding, avoidance of all drugs (including paracetamol, and antibiotics - except in life-threatening situations). He could promote the use of Vitamin A in all measles infections whether vaccinated or not, (which is well covered, and supported in the medical literature, even in so called "developed" countries) and he could reinject into society solid concepts of basic preventive medicine - that is, feeding children a proper diet. Further, he could investigate and counsel parents on the avoidance of as many environmental dangers and toxins as possible.
He would save more children from many diverse conditions that way, than any vaccination campaign for any disease will ever achieve. And he would reduce the numbers of hospitalisation of children from all causes dramatically. Which would save him a lot of money.
2) And while he is doing that, he could also make sure that all medical practitioners in the Worcester City Hospitals undergo education in all aspects of information sharing, informed consent, and preventable medical error, the latter of which has, in recent years, killed far more children in the United Kingdom that all immunable diseases put together.
As a parent, the difficulty I have with the comments of both of these correspondents, is that they seem to be totally unaware of the seeming hypocrisy and inconsistency of their respective arguments and positions as "health advocates". And they also seem to be unaware of the real concerns of the parents in UK, and elsewhere, about the health of their children, and the medical system of today.