Watching Ruth Ellen Logan on BBC's Spotlight 'The Babymaker Uncovered' reminded me of the time a car salesman sold me my first car. It was a decade ago, but I still remember being told how incredible the car was, only for my used Citroen C2 to fail its first MOT and spend more time either broken down or at the garage getting fixed than with me. I was promised so much but delivered so little.
Watching the experience of the undercover reporters with Logan and hearing her patients' experiences at her clinic, Logan Wellbeing and Medical, many of the sales techniques viewers witnessed reminded me more of a crooked salesperson than a medical establishment. Logan is not a doctor, nurse or healthcare practitioner, I think she is a saleswoman, a really good one. So good, that I almost find myself in awe of her marketing and sales abilities.
Logan uses social media to give herself a platform to reach and engage with people searching for answers about their fertility. I believe she manages to attract viewers with content that is both personal and engaging. She posts videos of her using new products on herself while speaking of their benefits to fertility and other much sought-after remedies, such as healthier skin and a stronger immune system. Her trademarked and patented Logan Fertility Method arouses curiosity and cements the perception of her ingenuity. Her claims of success rates of 86 percent (three times the average of an IVF clinic in the UK) make her clinic a must for anyone wanting to have a baby, especially when you pay her clinic a visit and find yourself in a waiting area that is not too dissimilar to the one at your GPs and are surrounded by cards from happy patients thanking Logan for their successful pregnancies. Nothing arouses suspicion.
Spotlight's Jennifer O'Leary builds up the case against Logan and her clinic in a way that gets more shocking and infuriating by the minute, via an intertwining mix of patient experiences, whistle-blowers from the clinic, expert opinions and undercover reporters filming their experiences. The documentary definitely captivates, shocks and disgusts in equal measure. Giving out prescriptions for drugs not licensed for use in fertility clinics without any medical background, supervision or care whatsoever tells a very grim and dark story on its own. Yet, I feel the programme had some shortcomings that didn't do the magnitude of the situation justice.
The documentary refers to renowned and revered medical experts when they expose the issues with Logan misdiagnosing and unlawfully treating patients to highlight the potential dangers and shortcomings of her methods. The documentary fails however to highlight that one of the drugs they so vehemently probed is a drug commonly used by IVF clinics. While I acknowledge that the documentary is not about the medication she gives but the fact that she even prescribes and gives medication in the first place, the documentary also has a responsibility of telling the full story, and perhaps the opinion of an expert that uses that said drug may have helped shape that story.
The filmmakers' use of incorrect social media posts to get a point across is completely unnecessary. Spotlight states they changed the name of one of the patients that came forward for this expose, yet when they refer to a Facebook post that Logan made about the said patient, you can clearly see the name of the patient on there. What's confusing is that the post seems to tell a completely different story than what O'Leary is referencing. Did they just pull out a random Facebook post from Logan's page thinking that viewers would not notice it refers to something else? Discrepancies and inconsistencies like these can jeopardise the integrity of the findings of a documentary tackling a very sensitive and important subject like this one.
I feel there were many questions left unanswered. Why did the company Revive, which supplied Logan with intravenous drips, take so long to end their licence agreement with Logan Wellbeing and Medical? And how was Logan getting pre-signed blank prescriptions from them? Why did the GMC take no further action when Revive were investigated? Were there any consequences for the independent nurse prescriber who resold products to Logan? And why was the HFEA not referenced or contacted in this documentary, since they are the regulators of fertility treatment in the UK?
What Spotlight does very well though is provoke. Provoke thought, provoke conversation and provoke action. Watching this documentary made me very upset at the state of the healthcare sector and in particular, fertility.
Having run two successful social media pages to inform and educate patients on fertility treatment, I understand first-hand that patients are out there searching for answers they cannot readily find, vulnerable to information predators who use pseudoscience and buzzwords and claim to have solutions. Solutions that can be dangerous and the very least, counterproductive. This highlights a clear issue with access to impartial and lay-accessible facts and information on fertility, access to relevant and accurate fertility-related data, and access to professionals in the field whom patients can connect with and trust.
How do you tackle this? Regulation? The four organisations contacted about practices at Logan Medical (Trading Standards, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, the Competition and Markets Authority and the Federation of Holistic Therapists) did nothing. The Advertising Standards Authority only took previous concerns about Logan seriously after being approached by the BBC.
Regulating the internet is near impossible without imposing draconian rules to limit individuals' freedom of speech. The solution is conversation, education, raising awareness and nurturing platforms where patients can feel safe and confident to access accurate information and support, and not fall victim to the predatory insects of salespeople looking to turn a quick profit.