King’s Fund boss hits out at media

King’s Fund chief executive Niall Dickson last week attacked the media for ‘growing sensationalism’ in coverage of healthcare issues.

Dickson, a former editor of Nursing Times and health correspondent at the BBC, told an audience of PROs, doctors, researchers, academics and journalists that the public were 'drowning' in a 'sea of over-simplistic misinformation' on health topics.

Dickson was speaking at a debate – 'This house believes standards in medical journalism are putting the public's health at risk' – convened by the Guild of Health Writers in London's Piccadilly.

He went on to attack the media for 'hyping up' past coverage of alleged dangers of the combined MMR vaccine and bemoaned journalists who ignored stories that didn't follow their own 'agendas'.

Manchester University professor of geriatric medicine Raymond Tallis also criticised journalists for 'whipping up a culture of suspicion' of authority and giving too much credence to the views of 'maverick self-publicising scientists'.

Opposing the view, Good Housekeeping science editor Vivienne Parry said 'varying standards among doctors' were a greater danger to people's health than any damage journalists could cause.

Hilly James, editor of Times supplement Body & Soul, also spoke at the event.

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