Spectrum 10K: Autism study ‘did not open’ at NHS hospital while project was paused, trust says

Medway Maritime Hospital, which was listed as one of 15 healthcare providers acting as a “research site” for the controversial DNA project, “did not open” the study at its location prior to the project being paused, an email received by Liam O’Dell has revealed.

The site, managed by Medway NHS Foundation Trust, was mentioned by Spectrum 10K researchers in forms submitted to two research ethics committees (RECs) last year. Both the London Queens Square and Scotland A-REC – part of the Health Research Authority – went on to give their approval to the study going ahead.

The forms, recently published by this website, have been described as “grim” and “sickening” by autistic activists, after study organisers said they hoped that the findings would lead to “improvements in autism” and described it as the “most costly medical condition in the UK”.

According to the academics, the cost of supporting autistic people is £32 billion annually – a figure which autism professional and speaker Ann Memmott has since branded “entirely invented”.

In the latest development, an email from Medway NHS Foundation Trust has shed light on the administrative processes behind Spectrum 10K.

In seeking clarification around a Freedom of Information request, the FOI team said: “The Trust’s Research & Innovation (R&I) department have confirmed that although the IRAS [ethics] form indicated this site, the Trust did not open the Spectrum 10K study at Medway Hospital.”

This website went on to request all correspondence between Spectrum 10K and Medway Hospital, as well as 13 other NHS providers which researchers claim are part of the project.

One provider, Medway Community Healthcare, could not be sent an FOI request as they are exempt under the 2000 legislation. Responses from the NHS trusts are expected to be received later this week.

The error comes a week after Liam O’Dell reported that health officials had slammed the ethics application from Spectrum 10K as “messy”, in an email obtained by this website.

Photo: Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Update – 07.12.21 – 18:45: Following conversations with Medway NHS Foundation Trust, it was confirmed that the Trust has not withdrawn from the study, but has not yet recruited any participants before the project was paused.

The headline and sections of this piece have been updated to reflect this.



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