David Byfield is either biased or incompetent?

September 10, 2002

2001 was when I really got involved in the politics of the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), was asked to be the expert witness for Jesper Jensen who had written stuff on his website that the GCC did not like. I earned £27,000 for my "Expert Work" on this case which I thought was outrageous and could be used to promote chiropractic and educate chiropractors in speaking about health promotion and chiropractic. I could see this was  going to be a cash cow for lawyers and experts and would damage the profession, and blew the whistle on how the GCC were attempting to restrict scope of practice to musculoskeletal conditions and got Byfield to write a report which contained 35 factual errors in relation to what Mr Jensen was alleged to have stated on his website. In response Byfield made numerous complaints to BCA and GCC trying to keep me quiet. He was unsuccessful. Unfortunatelyfew chiropractors listened to the warnings. Today Byfield is a Member of the new "reformed"  2009 GCC.

In September 2001 I was asked by Dr Jensen’s defence team to look at an “independent report” prepared for the GCC as the charges against Dr Jensen. The report presented two points of view. Dr Byfield’s view that chiropractors should restrict themselves to musculoskelatel conditions, where chiropractic treatment is supported by scientific evidence, and Dr Jensen’s apparent “subluxation practice” view as stated in his website.

Surprisingly, Dr Byfield’s report contained many quotes from the website that were materially inaccurate in 35 sections. This led Dr Jensen’s barrister, Mr Evans, to state in his summing up at the hearing “It is he (Dr Byfield) who has been inaccurate here in his enthusiasm to argue the musculoskeletal case and express his contempt, of the philosophical approach” (GCC transcript day 5. page 22), he went on to add (page 23) that Dr Byfields view was based on “dogma, and not on reason”.

For example, Dr Jensen did not state The Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC) theory is “the view held by the entire profession” as claimed by Dr Byfield’s in his report. Another example was leaving out a word which changed the meaning. Dr Byfield stated for Dr Jensen to say the “birth process is a traumatic, crippling event, is ludicrous at best”. The website actually stated “The birth process is potentially a traumatic, crippling event”. In another section, Dr Jensen pointed out how parents could be hurting their child’s spine and nervous system, by “mild to moderate shaking of a child”, “playfully throwing the child up in the air and catching him/her”, “ spanking a child” this was described as rough behaviour that could cause vertebral subluxations, so Dr Jensen recommended that children should have a spinal check. Dr Byfield presented this in his report as being wrong for Dr Jensen to suggest that “abused children or children subjected to potentially violent behaviour need a spinal check up by a chiropractor rather than being referred to the appropriate authorities”.

Another example was “chiropractors completely cure bedwetting by spinal manipulation”. The actual statement in the website was “In many of these cases, the bedwetting problem was alleviated if not completely cured following chiropractic spinal adjustments”. A further example was “VSC is the only cause of sciatica” whereas the Website stated VSC is one of the most common causes of sciatica.

In addition, there were many criticisms of Dr Jensen by Dr Byfield which contradicted views expressed by Dr Byfield and others in his book Chiropractic Manipulative Skills. It concerns me that the GCC’s expert who is now on the General Chiropractic Council, on their education committee, and interview panel, a senior academic who professes to subscribe to the evidence based protocol, and who chiropractors expect to be impartial, wandered far from the reality of the website and presented his text as fact in a report that could have disastrous consequences for a colleague. Dr Jensen was eventually found guilty. Whatever one’s opinion of the statements on Dr Jensen’s website and how they were presented they were not “untruthful” (read my initial report on www.familychiropractic.co.uk). Are there any absolute truths in health care? I gathered all my evidence from peer reviewed journals (over 100 appendices) supporting the statements in the website.

But why was the case ever brought in the first place when Dr Jensen had taken the material off his website? Why is the BCA not interested in finding out why their own member was subjected to this harsh treatment for over 18 months? Will anybody explain why this hearing was necessary and if anybody except lawyers and myself benefited? How does this “protect the public”? In fact I argued websites like this provide a public service questioning the biomedical approach to health care.

It was not as if the GCC was unaware that prosecuting this case was not in the profession’s interest. Richard Rumary resigned from the GCC in April 2001, because of the investigating committee’s decision to pursue these cases saying it was tantamount to “penalising dentists for telling people that eating sweets was bad for their teeth”. According to Richard Rumary, the view of chiropractic on the GCC would appear to be out of line with the views held by the large majority of chiropractors in the UK. Richard Rumary stated in a letter to the GCC concerning his resignation, that the Council is “dominated by members (and staff) who have a very rigid and essentially orthodox-medical view of the way in which chiropractors should be educated, trained and allowed to practice. These members are either professional members with their own particular educational or political agenda, or lay members who either know nothing about the real nature of chiropractic or seem to have a built in bias against it”.

Was it the “political agenda” and “bias” Richard Rummary refers to that influenced the original decision to proceed against Dr Jensen? Have the GCC elections had any effect on the “bias” in these committees and where the influence lays? Sadly, it would appear that some chiropractors have an appetite for testifying against colleagues who use the term subluxation. Published comments by members of the BCA executive in recent years only serves to reinforce this view. If chiropractors continue to disparage each other in this manner, it only serves to created a cash cow for lawyers and their experts, this will ultimately cause irreparable damage to the chiropractic profession in the UK.

Surely impartiality is a requirement ( Nolan Principles)to sit on the General Chiropractic Council education committee, or at least to be able to write a few lines without making a mistake.

Apparently not???

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