Dawn of a new age or more smoking mirrors from Coats,Dixon and General Chiropractic Council.

September 6, 2010

 DSCF3180 The McTimoney Association seems very optimistic about the latest discussions with the GCC. The fact that members of the Alliance and the BCA sent out their own interpretation of the meeting should start bells ringing. I would advise everbody to read Tony Blairs autobiography before getting too excited. Blairs biggest regret is not the war in Iraq like Coats and Dixon its the Freedom of Information act. Then read about the Lisbon treaty and how the Irish voted No and the politicians got them to vote again 12 months later using the smoke and mirrors strategy.

Anyway below is what the MCA executive told their members. (I wonder if GCC council member Christina Cunliffe had a hand in it) My prediction is the GCC has engineered a situation around subluxation where they can appear to be reasonable on a issue that will have little bearing on the future of the UK profession and will only be used to sedate those chiropractors who are demanding change, before prescribing is introduced.

Remember thats how they boil frogs, the water needs to be cooled down to win their confidence get them to relax. A “New Dawn” for chiropractic in the UK would start with the sacking of Margaret Coats, and the removal of (at the very least )Peter Dixon from council. Anyway here is the statement from the MCA.

News from the GCC/ Associations meeting (17th August 2010) via the MCA


You will recall that we told you about an important meeting which took place on 17 August 2010 between the General Chiropractic Council and representatives the Alliance of UK Chiropractors (MCA, SCA and UCA) and the BCA.

This unprecedented meeting allowed for members of the GCC to converse openly and directly with the professional association representatives, without intermediaries. It was a first in terms of intra-professional communications and provided the opportunity for an important breakthrough.

One of the issues discussed at the meeting was the Verterbral Subluxation Complex (VSC), the definition of which was amended by the GCC on its website earlier this year, a move which caused considerable concern amongst chiropractors. A lengthy and detailed presentation was made by the Alliance about the VSC and a substantial 120 page dossier entitled The Vertebral Subluxation Complex – The History, Science, Evolution and Current Quantum Thinking on a Chiropractic Tenet was also presented to Council members. This dossier was commissioned on behalf of the AUKC and among the contributors were Christopher Kent and Bruce Lipton.

We are delighted to be able to tell you that following informed and vigorous representation by MCA representatives as part of the Alliance, the GCC has agreed to alter the guidance on claims for the VSC. The revised wording will reflect the fact that the term ‘subluxation’, as used by chiropractors, refers to functional derangements of the spine and that functional derangements of the spine are the basis for health concerns. The GCC will also restore on to the FAQ section of the GCC website a definition of a subluxation – the precise wording will be drafted by the Comunications Advisory Group (upon which the MCA is represented) and agreed by the Alliance.

The issue of revalidation was also discussed and Council are now fully aware of the concerns that the MCA has about not only the process but also the tenets on which revalidation has been based. It became evident during the discussion on this issue that some Council members also share our concerns.

We believe that these outcomes represent an early sign that the GCC is prepared to take action as a direct result of the combined voices of chiropractors, through the Alliance. Council members welcomed the opportunity to meet representatives of the profession face to face and expressed the wish to continue with this forum for communication between registrants and Council. The MCA will be building on the progress made at that meeting.”

Its fair to say not everybody is as optimistic as the Mctimoneys, after the meeting on August 17, Margaret Coats e-mailed all the participants ( I know them all, nice people) with the news that the GCC “would look at appropriate wording for an FAQ on subluxation: Council agreed to remit this to the Communications Advisory Group”.

Been there done that, bought the T shirt.

After being elected onto council in 2007 I set out to find how a council including Dana Greene, Kevin Grant, Madeline Brez……, Matt Flanagan Kevin Proudman Carla How and Steve Williams coulld make such a cock up of defining “The Vertebral Subluxation Complex” and the theory it is based on.

On the 10th of July 2007 council members received the following communiqué from the GCCs chief executive Margaret Coats.

Dear colleagues

I understand that all chiropractic members of Council will have received direct from Dr Wight a copy of his letter of 5 July with regard to the content of answers to frequently asked questions on our website.  Attached for information is copy of my reply to his letter, from which you will see that this is an agenda item for September.  For avoidance of doubt, new members of Council will wish to note that standard protocol is that all correspondence on matters relating to the business of the GCC go via the office – members of Council do not provide individual responses.


This was Coats way of telling us new members that chiropractic council members must know their place, and "standard protocol" (spin) comes from her office.She then wrote to Graham Wight

10 July 2007

Dear Dr Wight

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of 5 July 2007. On a point of accuracy, as I explained in my letter of 15 May, the wording of the answer to the frequently asked question What is subluxation and is it dangerous? was agreed by all members of Council on 1 May 2007.

Having said that, Council will be considering suggestions for change from the professional associations when it meets next on 5 September. I will ensure that your letter is included with the relevant agenda item.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Coats

Chief Executive & Registrar

Under normal circumstances this would seem reasonable to council members and have been left there. I knew how Margaret Coats operated and this was going to be my first excursion into what went on behind the scenes at GCC. Former council members had warned me about Coats and Dixon in words to the effect; “if you are going to roll in the mud with pigs remember they like it”.

To keep things under her control Coats has intercepted mail addressed to council members, this gave her the power to decide what lay council members needed to know and intimidate others. She could do little about mail sent to directly to chiropractic members, so she depended on a few chiropractic “rats” to keep her informed.

In response to Coats e-mail I sent the following e-mail to all council chiropractic members;

From: Richard Lanigan
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2007 2:59 PM
To: Margaret Coats; Alan Breen; Christina Cunliffe; David Byfield; Graham Heale; Kalim Mehrabi; kevin Marisa Pinnock; Mark Cashley; Mike Kondracki; Peter Dixon Steve Williams

Subject: RE: Communication from Dr Wight

Dear colleagues,

Graeme Wight contacted me on this matter before I was elected on to council and I have corresponded with him on this matter a number of times prior to being elected. The correspondence prompted me to submit a Freedom of Information Request as to which “chiropractic” references were used to come up with the first explanation of subluxation put on the GCC website. There were no references to its origins.

The information I was given in theri response was that, “The GCC subluxation was based on the WHO definition of subluxation and  “160 people, including experts and national authorities and professional and NGO’s, in over 54 countries” had reviewed this document prior to publication.

After getting a few responses I sent the following to the chiropractic members of council.

I was told that the working group never met to discuss the definition, they put their suggestions on a piece of paper and Margaret picked the one she like best; (David Byfield’s) Perhaps someone could tell us if the working group considered the WHO definition in their deliberations or was this an after though when the criticism came in. I believe “subluxation” was initially presented on the GCC web site as merely loss of joint moment without any reference to a WHO definition. How on earth was it messed up so badly, that all four associations are in agreement. 

Bearing in mind how often the PCC rejects overseas evidence because it is “not in the context of UK healthcare”  surely it makes sense to have UK chiropractors who use the term subluxation in practice, define subluxation theory for the UK public. Defined properly so “other health care professionals can understand”, it can even be used as a chiropractors diagnosis in notes and not contravene the COP.

A member of the working group that defined the subluxation then responded.

I would like to fill in some of the gaps as best as I can remember although I have not kept complete notes.

This was always going to be a difficult area and so a "working party" was set up to offer suggestions for Q&A’s. This party never actually met. Each member sent in their proposals to Margaret by email who collated them and phoned round to individuals to discuss suggestions. From there the website was updated. Unfortunately the working group did not see a draft as I recall and as I say, never met to discuss matters. The question was raised at Council in response to Dr Wight’s passionate correspondence and there was some debate. A vote was taken and so the version on the website is our official Council one. To change this version would take another decision of Council. Part of the debate included the explanation that, "the term ’subluxation’ doesn’t mean something that poses any danger to you." A suggestion made was that it could read "the term ’subluxation’ doesn’t necessarily mean something that poses any danger to you. This was not adopted. I am not aware of there being any consideration of referenced alternative definitions by Council. Dr Wight referred to other definitions, such as the SCA definition, but I do not believe that any were brought before Council.

On the basis of this, I spoke with a number of people who were on the “working group” and saw the correspondence between the working group. On the basis of this I was able to conclude the following.

From: Richard Lanigan [mailto:richard@familychiropractic.co.uk]
Sent: 14 July 2007 15:02
To: Kevin Grant; Christina Cunliffe
Cc: Margaret Coats; Alan Breen; David Byfield; Graham Heale; Kalim Mehrabi; Marisa Pinnock; Mark Cashley; Mike Kondracki; Peter Dixon; drsteve.williams
Subject: RE: Communication from Dr Wight

The minutes of a meeting of the GCC recorded that a working group of chiropractors had been set up to answer “Frequently Asked Questions” for the GCC web site. One of the group’s responsibilities was to explain “The vertebral subluxation complex” and state if it was “dangerous”. This was the GCC version for public consumption.

The reality, as I understand it, was the “working group” never met to discuss the task, simply wrote some comments on a piece of paper and gave them to Margaret. Margaret then chose the one she liked best, and did not consult the group for feedback on her decision. Then when the GCC was criticised for her choice, someone decided to include the WHO definition without consulting the working group  who had been given the FAQ task in the first place.

If that is the case, the problem here is not the semantics of subluxation or the GCC definition, the problem is the due process that preceded it and the nonsense used to try and justify the process to registered chiropractors. Not one of the chiropractors I spoke to  thought the subluxation definition was decided by  a majority of those chiropractors on the “working group” and that’s why we pursued it. This is exactly why the profession and many patients have little confidence in the GCC, they do not trust the information coming out of head office.

Rather than waiting for “leaks”, I hope this time the GCC admit to Graham, et al. that mistakes were made and will be put right. Hopefully a “working group” with terms of reference will be set up who will consult with the 4 associations. And when they have made their decision on the FAQ’s, then and only then do they report back to Margaret for her to have the FAQs put on the website.

Does anyone have a better idea.


Coats response to council members was immediate.

The Chairman (Peter Dixon) has asked me to bring to your attention the following facts

· The General Council agreed that the working group would not need to meet but should communicate via email

· The office produced a first draft on which the working group commented

· The office produced a further draft which the Chairman signed off, as agreed by the General Council

· The first draft contained the WHO definition of subluxation, but it was removed on the ground that it might be too technical for the general public

· The General Council had commented on the WHO guidelines in December 2005 and at that time had no issue with the WHO definition of subluxation – its only notified concern to WHO was the specification of full-time education, whereas the Bologna Agreement encourages a wide range of flexible learning paths

· The answers to the FAQs will be on the agenda for 5 September, when Council will be considering correspondence from the professional associations

· There has been no problem of due process


Her explanation was not difficult to pull apart . Realising I was happy to confront her and was not intimidated by her, she started telling council members that my presence on council was causing her great stress and making her ill. Flagging the idea that she might sue the GCC for constructive dismissal if I was not brought under control. This is what I circulated it to all council members. My comments are the ones in bold.

Dear Margaret

I am afraid I am none the wiser.

The General Council agreed that the working group would not need to meet but should communicate via email. ( I have only seen one series of e-mails between three members of the working group, did the others not bother? Can I see the final comments sent in by the group members that you based the first draft on?)

• The office produced a first draft on which the working group commented

The office produced a further draft which the Chairman signed off, who were as agreed by the General Council ( Was this done without further consultation with the working group of “chiropractors” who were to develop the answers. Sorry to be pedantic but the council minutes state “Council AGREED that a working group should develop answers to the following frequently asked questions, to be signed off by the Chairman” Correct me if I am wrong, the working groups terms of reference were to develop, not just provide some “comment” for “The Office”?

The first draft contained the WHO definition of subluxation, but it was removed on the ground that it might be too technical for the general public (Subluxation theory is too technical for many chiropractors, however this hardly justifies using a definition that does not explain what subluxation chiropractors mean when they use the term, and not providing references for members of the public not cerebrally challenged.  The public is asking for direction and the GCC sends them somewhere else. Members of the public may be upset when the get there and find a “subluxation chiropractor” telling them that chronic spinal dysfunction will affect surrounding soft tissues adversely and could cause CNS symptoms.  Not to worry thousands of the GCC booklet “How to make a complaint” are freely available)

The General Council had commented on the WHO guidelines in December 2005 and at that time had no issue with the WHO definition of subluxation – its only notified concern to WHO was the specification of full-time education, whereas the Bologna Agreement encourages a wide range of flexible learning paths

The answers to the FAQs will be on the agenda for 5 September, when Council will be considering correspondence from the professional associations. ( The right way would have been to have consulted the associations before publishing the FAQ’s. Words like, door, bolted, and horse come to mind )

There has been no problem of due process

My mistake, there were no problems with GCC due process, Graeme Wight is just a grumpy old man after all those years in practice and there is no truth in the rumour that the profession and many chiropractic patients have little confidence in the GCC.

Those big birds that live in Australian, what are they called?


Coats did not respond, she got her poodle Peter Dixon (GCC chairman)to ask, Who I had been talking to. This type of intervention ended the discussion and would happen every time I developed a head of stem with Coats.

Dear Richard

I don’t think this type of e-mail correspondence is getting us anywhere. You will have the opportunity, of course, to express your views on this topic in the proper environment of the council meeting on September 5th, when the full context can be explored.

You have seen one series of e-mails you say. When did you see them? and can you forward them to me please?

Yours Peter

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16 Responses to Dawn of a new age or more smoking mirrors from Coats,Dixon and General Chiropractic Council.

  1. Shantell Gaspari on March 16, 2020 at 16:49

    Hey, Came across this page by accident but absolutely loving the content. Thanks.

  2. Ex McStudent on September 9, 2010 at 18:32

    I am saying that a number of projects would have been carried out as part of the degree courses. McExplanations for such efficacy would undoubtedly be ‘poor methodology’ if one disapproved of the results.

    The McProjects of students passing the course are all in the University of Wales library. I’m sure evidence could be found in relative abundance, depending on how it is interpreted of course. Students failing the course would have their projects witheld (it’s possible to get right to the end of the course and fail, having completed a lengthy project). Projects are also held at the McTimoney library but I doubt if skeptics would get access to that.

    I wager that the McProjects will now disappear from the shelves, just as the McWebsites were disappeared.

  3. Paul on September 9, 2010 at 12:37

    Sorry – are you saying there is evidence of non efficacy?

  4. Ex McStudent on September 9, 2010 at 10:03

    @ John

    Yes they do have research but it is carefully vetted. I suspect that because of the branding, anything remotely anti McTimoney would never get publicised and the student would likely fail the course for forming their own view based on what their research uncovered.

  5. Ex McStudent on September 9, 2010 at 10:00

    Well said Richard.

    Will we soon have the term ‘McTimoney chiropractor’ taught as a historical concept” much like the subluxation?

  6. John on September 9, 2010 at 09:55

    Has McTimminey Chiro any of its own research or is it a case of piggy backing on chiropractic research?

  7. Richard Lanigan on September 9, 2010 at 09:41

    Dazed, you are missing the point, the NICE guidelines recommend “Spinal Manipulation” by whoever. The guidlines are not an endorsement of regulated chiropractors, they are an endorsement of a technique that involves joint cavitation, I use that technique and can advertise even though I am not on the register.

    That is not to say other techniques are not effective, it means in a profession that is regulated by a body insisting on evidence based interventions, insisting on evidence provides a convenient way of making everybody use the same technique, the same way they are limiting scope of practice by restricting chiropractors to musculoskeletal syndromes.

    The fact McT chiropractors can not help children with colic is not something to be proud of and if the McTimoney Association is saying chiropractors who believe they can help infants with colic should be up before the PCC, the “Alliance is not going to last very long, or for that matter is the McTimoney Association

  8. dazed on September 9, 2010 at 08:15

    In respect of the NICE guidelines there seems little chance of chiropractic or osteopathy regardless of technique being funded by the NHS any time soon – see this article in PULSE (registration is free)


    The arguement that McTimoney technique should be excluded from the NICE guidelines is childish -the same could be said for SOT, Gonstead, any of the instrument adjusting technniques.

    In respect of another mass complaint against McT’s for advertising treatment of specific conditions – if people are still advertising these, they deserve to be had up before the PCC. Go for it Paul – how many McT sites can you find still advertising colic for example?

  9. Ex McStudent on September 8, 2010 at 20:48

    1. They will re-brand whenever the goalposts move. That is what businesses do.

    2. Recall how the McBrand exited stage left by pulling websites, leaving the rest of the profession to face investigation singlehandedly. They are now using this bit of luck as a PR opportunity to creep up the rankings of the GCC, on the basis that their McChiropractors do not break the law and so must be better than other chiropractors. Clever. I think even the skeptics will defend those chiropractors under investigation when that penny drops.

  10. Paul on September 8, 2010 at 15:34

    Whilst I would agree that one of the key issues is whether the title chiropractor is to hijacked by manual medicine or not (as it has been in other EU countries inc. Denmark and Norway), another two key issues are these:

    1, what does the future hold for McTimmoney if and when this happens (ie manual medicine are allowed win) as McTimmoney do not teach manipulation in any guise, and

    2, what happens if there is one single class action sceptic comlaint asking for evidence of efficacy specifically in regard to McT therapy and any health issue given there isn’t any?

  11. Richard Lanigan on September 8, 2010 at 11:03

    McTimoney is caught between a rock and a hard place. It is on a 4 year trial now for ECCE accreditation so Christina Cunliffe has to please the BCA leadership who will have much influence on that process as well as her masters at the GCC Dixon and Coats. Then the McTimoney association has to keep its core members happy who are being marginalised by “evidence based” directives which are more in tune with the “manipulation” and back pain model of chiropractic.

    In the current environment skeptics could make complaints against McTimoney practitioners who use the NICE guidelines as an example of efficacy of chiropractic. The regulator has to stop pretending that chiropractic is an evidence based homogenous profession of medical manipulators.

    Chiropractors provide a service and the public decide on the type of service they want. Some chiropractors rely on peer reviewed research to treat musculoskeletal pain syndromes, however the majority of chiropractors are happy to focus on their experience and emperical evidence to define their scope of practice.

    Whether UK chiropractors are allowed to diagnose spinal dysfunction as a subluxation or a fixation is not important in the whole scheme of things, the key issue is whether prescribing becomes part of the GCC Code of Practice and Standards of Proficiency and chiropractic remains seperate and distinct from medicine.

  12. Ex McStudent on September 8, 2010 at 08:47

    Someone is running with the fox and hunting with the hounds.

    The college is currently under deep scrutiny on a wide range of quality issues and it makes good sense to get into bed with your potential investigators for protection.

    To have a 3 superpowers poised to increase control is not a good situation for any of them or the profession. True to historical power games, it will implode spectacularly although some might hope that that will happen after they receive their pensions and not before.

    I’m waiting for the patients’ interests to be given a mention but so far the only one doing that with any selfless conviction is Richard.

  13. dazed on September 8, 2010 at 08:22

    perhaps I am the Black sheep of the McT family?

  14. Paul on September 7, 2010 at 21:30

    Ah dazed come on you are not a likely candidate for such a comment

    maaa (-:

  15. dazed on September 7, 2010 at 19:11

    baaa baaa baaa

  16. Paul on September 6, 2010 at 13:24

    Peter was always sneaky (wasn’t him alone fractured the ecu?) – he found a friend in Coats and now they are to be joined by cunliffe.

    The problem is that the MCA membership are now becoming sheep like the BCA members.

    Tou your questio Richard:

    “Dawn of a new age or more smoking mirrors from Coats,Dixon and General Chiropractic Council?”

    smoke and mirrors I am afraid and this new alliance has bought it more’s the pity.


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