One letter details the fierce opposition to another of Theresa May’s government appointments


Over 65 Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations, campaigners and mental health professionals have signed a letter opposing the appointment of Professor Sir Simon Wessely to lead the independent review of the Mental Health Act as announced in Theresa May’s speech at this year’s Conservative party conference:

“Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to urge a reconsideration of the decision to appoint Professor Simon Wessely to lead the independent review of the Mental Health Act as announced at the Conservative Party conference on 4 October 2017.

A review is needed to address mental health injustice, yet Wessely’s body of work on ME (or “chronic fatigue syndrome”) demonstrates his lack of honesty, care and compassion for patients. His unsubstantiated claim that ME is driven by “false illness beliefs” has led to patients being labelled as hypochondriacs, treated with contempt by some in the medical profession and stigmatised by society. His recommended treatment regime of Graded Exercise Therapy caused deterioration in function for nearly 50% of ME patients surveyed, yet he dismisses their evidence as unreliable and labels all critics of this work as irrational and extremist.

He continues to defend the notorious PACE trial, a study into treatment for ME/CFS part-funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and widely condemned by academics for misuse of statistical methods in order to produce positive-looking results.

Wessely’s work on ME led him to play an active role, alongside insurance industry professionals, in devising the theories of “malingering and illness deception” which underpinned the Work Capability Assessment. The WCA has had a catastrophic impact on the lives of disabled people. Wessely is resoundingly unfit to lead an inquiry into mental health injustice.

The appointment of Wessely underlines our fears that under the wrong leadership, the review and any subsequent changes to the Mental Health Act will worsen rather than alleviate the current mental health crisis. We urge you to rethink this decision.

Yours sincerely,

Linda Burnip

Co-founder, Disabled People Against Cuts

Denise McKenna

Mental Health Resistance Network

Andrew Samuels

Professor Andrew Samuels. Former Chair, UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Anne Novis

Chair, Inclusion London

Rich Moth

Social Work Action Network national steering committee

Caroline Collier

CEO, Inclusion Barnet

Simon Duffy

Centre for Welfare Reform

Tara Flood

CEO, Alliance for Inclusive Education

Cathy Maker

Director, RUILS

Kamran Mallick

CEO, Disability Rights UK

Emily Morton

Chief Executive, Disability Sheffield

Kathy Bole

Chair, Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People

Caron Blake

Manager, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People

Dr Jay Watts

Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist

Bea Millar

Person-Centred Therapist

Richard House

Chartered Psychologist and Mental Health Activist

Paul Atkinson

UKCP Psychotherapist

Joyce Kallevik

Director, Women in Secure Hospitals

Eamon Andrews

Communications and Project Officer, Shaping Our Lives

Ellen Morrison

Branch Secretary South East London Unite Community

Andrew Lee

Director, People First

Phil Gosling

Secretary, Regard

Ian Parker

Psychoanalyst, Manchester

Helen Ridett

Nurse and GMB workplace organiser

Alec McFadden

Press Officer Salford TUC

Claire Glasman

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Ariane Sacco


Rev. Dianne Scott-Fowler

Chairperson, Stockport User Friendly Forum

John Pearson

Solidarity Drop-in Stockport

Ron Alexander

Life President, Dial Southend / Southend shop mobility

Christina Young

Mental health activist, Liverpool

Ellen Clifford

Croydon DPAC

Miriam Binder

Chair, Brighton DPAC

Paula Peters

Chair, Bromley DPAC

Nicola Jeffery

National Steering Group, DPAC

Andy Greene

National Steering Group, DPAC

Anita Bellows

National Steering Group, DPAC

Andy Metcalf

Mental Health Activist Alliance

Michael Harrison

Branch Secretary North East Wales Unite Community

Andy Mitchell

Branch Secretary Somerset Unite Community

Trevor Bark

Branch Secretary Durham Unite Community

Bernie Stock

Branch Chair Durham Unite Community

Zarria Phillips

Branch Chair Bristol Area Unite Community

Rachel Holmes

Branch Secretary Herts & Beds Unite Community

Kate Hyndley

Industrial Liaison Officer South East London Unite Community

Hillel Friedman

Treasurer Norfolk Unite Community

Joan Twelves

Co-chair Lambeth & Southwark Unite Community

Geraldine Murray

Norfolk Unite Community

Ian Nottage

Herts & Beds Unite Community

Carl Backland

Camden Unite Community

Amy Broad

Branch Chair, Peterborough, Chair Fenland & Kings Lynn Unite Community

Susan Pashkoff

Branch Chair East London Unite Community

Amina Mangera

Branch Chair South East London Unite Community

Jacqui Burnett

Diversity Officer Herts & Beds Unite Community

Bernard Miller

Co-Secretary Camden Unite Community

Claudia Dias Ferreira

Co-Secretary Camden Unite Community

Rebecca Rocket

Essex Unite Community

Susan Hagley

Suffolk Unite Community

Rob Lugg

Branch Secretary South West London Unite Community

Robin Sivapalan

Branch Secretary Brent Unite Community

Fred Coford

Islington Unite Community

Sarah Matthews

Branch Secretary Suffolk Unite Community

Martin Beverich

Herts & Beds Unite Community

Steve Ballard

Equalities Officer Haringey Unite Community

Kate Hodgson

Islington Unite Community”


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