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The Nightingale Collaboration


The Nightingale Collaboration was set up in 2010 to challenge misleading claims in healthcare advertising. With initial funding from science writer Dr Simon Singh (see previous fact) to get them going Alan Henness and Maria MacLachlan set out to help protect the public by getting these misleading claims withdrawn and trying to have people held to account for those false claims. These claims are usually directed to the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), particularly where the body of research for a particular treatment or remedy isn't very strong. The basic idea is to protect the public from harm brought about by harmful treatments or remedies that may not be effective at treating a particular conditio.n, leading to further complications

The organisation achieves their aims by making complaints about advertising directly to regulators, such as the Advertising Standards Authority or Trading Standards. They offer tools and resources on their website to enable people from outside of the organisation to carry out similar work, such as information on who to contact about adverts and practitioners, or suggestions on how to formulate complaints in order to have the maximum possible impact. They also offer information on where to find information to help bolster a claim, such as books or academic papers. The group has a string of successful complaints behind them covering a huge amount of claims in areas such as homeopathy, reflexology, chiropractic and medical technology & devices.

The Skeptic Magazine (UK) awarded the group the Ockham Award for Best Event/Campaign in 2014, presented at the QEDCon skeptical conference, and the group has spoken previously at public events (such as Skeptics in the Pub) about their work and how other skeptical activists can get involved. If you've ever been tempted to send in a complaint or highlight an issue with something that skeptics would feel strongly about then they are a useful resource.

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