BREAKING: Royal College of GPs condemns “potentially incredibly dangerous” behaviour on CUSU-branded self-care group

As Women’s Campaign votes to officially disaffiliate from the group.

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The Royal College of GPs, the largest of the medical royal colleges, has responded to revelations that prescription drugs appear to have been given out on the CUSU WomCam self-care page.

Responding to the story, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard of the Royal College of GPs, said:

GPs and other prescribers make the decision to prescribe medicines on a case by case basis, taking into account a patient’s unique circumstances, their medical history, and any other drugs that they might be taking.

Drugs prescribed to one person are absolutely not supposed to be shared with others – this is potentially incredibly dangerous as different drugs affect different people in different ways, particularly if they are taking other medication at the same time.

Also, in many cases patients are prescribed a course of medication, and it is important that they complete that course – themselves – in order to have the best chance of getting better.

If someone is sick and thinks they need treatment, for whatever issue, I would urge them to make an appointment with their GP in the first instance, or discuss the problem with their local pharmacist.

Not only did the group include dozens of instances of prescribed drugs potentially being shared with others, there were instances of one drug being offered as a substitute for another – and even money being offered. Students rarely made attempts to verify that a student claiming to need a drug had been prescribed it before. Worse still, The Tab has seen no evidence of attempts to verify that the requested drug was being taken in the manner and according to the quantity prescribed by a medical professional.

On Wednesday night, the Women’s Campaign voted to disaffiliate the self-care group from CUSU’s autonomous Women’s Campaign.  The name of the group has been changed on Facebook to reflect this and the email address of Charlie Chorley, the Women’s Officer, has been removed from the information section.

14 members of the 17-strong WomCam elected committee were in the self-care group, of which three were in fact admins, responsible for moderating the group’s content. Members of the WomCam exec have publicly attacked the female author of the original piece and encouraged members of the public to send her private messages, although in a private capacity rather than as WomCam reps.

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The Women’s Campaign decided to disaffiliate from the Self-Care Tips Group in the wake of the revelations.

On Thursday night, The Tab emailed all CUSU Sabbs who were members of the group to ask whether they were aware of students offering their own prescription drugs to other women on the self-care group prior to this week.

None has responded to our request for information, but The Tab has seen an email sent to college representatives in which CUSU says that it will not be responding to any further requests for comment from The Tab. Their stated reason is the “inappropriate conduct of journalists who contacted elected CUSU officers at unreasonable hours of the night, through personal channels”.

The Tab, in its communication with CUSU sabbs, has been accustomed to using phone, email and Facebook. The Tab has previously taken complaints from the President and Coordinator via Facebook alone. On at least one occasion, Mensah instructed a journalist to message her on Facebook about acquiring a comment.

In the same email, Mensah assured representatives that “CUSU does not endorse the posts cited in the student press”. She said that “CUSU has previously, and explicitly, deemed [these practices] counter to student welfare”. The Tab understands that this refers to the statement issued by CUSU after the revelations were made public.

Trinity’s JCR President, Cornelius Roemer, earlier called for light to be shed on the extent of CUSU’s responsibility: “Questions might be asked about the relation of CUSU to its autonomous campaigns who have the power to harm CUSU’s reputation yet are under no control from CUSU Council and Trustees. This has serious implications for the effectiveness of CUSU to represent all students effectively.

“While I have full sympathy with the students who needed to get hold of medication on holidays, the support of self-prescription is worrying. I demand a full and independent inquiry into the involvement of sabbatical CUSU officers into practices that might cause harm to students.”

UPDATE 24/01/16: Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner has got back to The Tab for comment: “The medical advice is clear – prescription drugs are for the person for whom they are prescribed, and only for them. Passing them to others is potentially dangerous, and should not be encouraged.”