Give generously to the British Chiropractic Association so they can build their bridge to oblivion.

May 19, 2010
By

SirAlecGuinness_Bridge_NicholsonThe BCA president Richard Brown recently sent a begging letter to the members of the ECU asking them to help fund their legal expenses to deal with with the chiropractic skeptics complaints

After explaining about the Simon Sing case, he explained why the BCA needed the money.

Excerpts from the letter are in red and links in my comments are also in red.

 “An unforeseen consequence of the BCA’s action has been the orchestration of a vexatious campaign by a small group of internet bloggers, which has specifically targeted BCA members. This has resulted in formal complaints being made to the statutory regulator of the UK chiropractic profession, the General Chiropractic Council. The complaints have specifically targeted claims made on BCA members’ website in relation to a wide range of conditions for which they say there is insufficient evidence of efficacy. The BCA believes that this is part of a deliberate campaign to disable and undermine the chiropractic profession, specifically the GCC, whose role is to protect the public and set standards of education and conduct. As a statutory body, the GCC is obliged by law to investigate every complaint which it receives”.

No doubt Brown is familiar with these words having uttered them many times over the years as the GCCs star expert witness. The letter fails to mention that  Brown is one of the few UK chiropractors who has confidence in the GCC no doubt receiving many thousands of pounds from the GCC over the years has helped form his opinion of the GCC. The vast majority of the UK chiropractic profession recognises the GCC is not fit for purpose ( if you have 30 minutes to spare read my statement to the council in March 2008) . No doubt Brown was aware that GCC Chief Executive Margaret Coats was the person who began making complaints  to the ASA about qualified chiropractors who had chosen not to go on the register. A chiropractor was advising the ASA on these complaints, dont know who the medipractor was but I am sure it was one of the tweenies. The ASA website is where the sceptics learned how to structure their complaints and how they knew the GCC would  act on the complaints against UK chiropractors. I warned council at the November 2007 meeting that this scorched earth policy against non registered chiropractors could damage registered chiropractors who were using American language in their advertising and needed advice.Not for the first time despit wy mandate from the profession I was ignored.

However the real problem was the aggressive way the GCC went after chiropractors for minor infringements. Knowing that the BCA is their main supported the GCC has written to the complainant Alan Hennes asking him to include other non BCA chiropractors in his complaint, No doubt to spread the load among all the associations and not damage the credibility of the BCA. After seeing one of these letters I  sent a freedom of information request to the GCC:

1). Has the GCC written to Alan Hennes or Simon Perry asking them to include other chiropractors in their complaint?

A) The GCC considers complaints by individuals as part of its regulatory duties as contained within the chiropractors act 1994. As such the GCC considers that this information is exempt under section 31 (2) OF THE FOIA AND SECTION 40 (5) (B) (i) of the FOIA.

2) How many chiropractors were named in the original complaint by Mr Perry and Mr Hennes ?

A) The GCC considers complaints by individuals as part of its regulatory duties as contained within the chiropractors act 1994. As such the GCC considers that this information is exempt under section 31 (2) OF THE FOIA AND SECTION 40 (5) (B) (i) of the FOIA.

(When all this started in the summer of 2009 they were talking about 500 complaints now the talk is much much more)

3) How many chiropractors were subsequently complained about and added to Mr Perrys or Mr Hennes list at a later date?

A) The GCC considers complaints by individauls as part of its regulatory duties as contained within the chiropractors act 1994. As such the GCC considers that this information is exempt under section 31 (2) OF THE FOIA AND SECTION 40 (5) (B) (i) of the FOIA.

When I was elected to council many chiropractors and three of the chiropractic associations were campaigning for the GCC to take the legal advice the osteopaths had for dealing with complaints which was similar to the way the GMC method. This allows osteopaths to weed out vexatious case and cases with no “prospect of sucess”.

coats-on-sun GCC chief executive Margaret Coats was having none of it and in September 2007 got her own legal advice from Robert Ebglehaart QC. His opinion was that the Osteopathic Act and Chiropractic act were worded differently from GMC rules. and in his view “the Investigating Committee should continue to act as it has done to date and should not adopt the approach suggested in the osteopaths paper”. This was the end of the matter and meant Richard Browns expertise would continue to be in demand by the GCC.

 Brown continues in his letter that it is estimated that the cost to the GCC, which is being funded by the re-mortgaging of its premises is £1.3 million. This has to be funded by the GCC itself as it receives no public funding.

The GCC is funded by register chiropractors who pay the highest registration fees, new graduates who have to pay the full annual fee for three months registration and it has also been funded by changing the Chiropractic act which meant chiropractors under investigation could no longer defer payment of their registration fees . Three association were opposed to this move the BCA supported it, Brown continues;

In supporting its members, the BCA has so far had to deal with over 300 complaints and it is known that there will be a further 300. It is anticipated that complaint notices will continue to be issued over the coming months, and that the whole process will take up to 18 months to complete. This has placed huge strain on the resources of the BCA, which currently employs five staff members. As they do not involve patients, the complaints are not covered by the BCA members’ malpractice insurance policy.

While this is tragic for BCA members, it needs to be pointed out. That five years ago for reasons that were not explained the BCA decided to change insurers. I did warn them about this at the AGM and even sent an e-mail to BCA members. The BCA council responded by telling members I had defamed them and they were seeking legal advice ( Barrie Lewis was President at the time).

Every year since changing the BCA has boasted to its members of the excellent work they were doing keeping members insurance premiums from going up. What they were hiding was what they were shaving bits off the policy to keep the premiums down.  An excess of £10,000 for members who had findings against them, doing the brokering themselves and excluding complaints “not involving patients” . This was suicidal when one considers the broad scope the GCC has to charge chiropractors under the Code of Practice and Standards of Proficiency, when the average cost of each hearing to the chiropractor is in the region of £30,000.

Its not like The BCA did not imagine this could happen in the second case to come before the GCC, a BCA member’s (charged with mage claims on his website) insurance with MIA only covered up to £50,000 and defence costs went to almost £90,000. The GCC chief executive Margaret Coats was the  complaint against Jesper Jensen something she has done approximately 20 times. The BCA’s legal team Kennedys were out of pocket and Sue Wakfield had to amend the BCAs policy to cover these type of instance  should it happen again. It seems the BCA council took a calculated risk with its members livelihood to save money trying to make themselves look better. 

I stayed with MIA and they have informed me that the policy covers all charges brought by a regulator. I keep asking for a discount because I am not on the register. They say they have put so much time and effort into developing this policy for the chiropractic profession they are not going to change it for me. See below point 5 and 6 are what is missing from the current BCA policy and why the association has had to go begging to the international chiropractic organisations. TMIA Chiropractic Factsheet 12-08

For those contemplating getting a better policy; one  that covers legal costs of regulatory hearings and does not have a £10,000 excess clause. I would advise returning to MIA (now called Towergate MIA). They are the most experienced chiropractic insurers in the UK I have been with them for 14 years. The BCA thought they were the best until they tried to do things on the cheap; For more information contact Patricia Woodroff ,Professional Indemnity Team Manager Telephone 01438 739839; back to the BCA begging letter. Browns letter continues;

THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE BCA

As at February 1st, the BCA has incurred legal fees and costs of £107,000. It was awarded £26,000 in May last year, so the net expenditure to date has been £81,000. The BCA has been advised that the cost of the Court of Appeal hearing has been estimated at £100,000. It is important to recognise that this is the preliminary hearing and not the full trial, which if it proceeds could cost the BCA many times this amount. ( In April the BCA decided not to continue with the hearing and are negotiating on how much of Simon Singhs costs they will have to pay)

The case which the BCA has brought against Simon Singh is a landmark case, with potentially far reaching consequences for the chiropractic profession worldwide. It has and will continue to attract media attention and attention will undoubtedly be extended to the practice of chiropractic in other nations.

This may very well be true and all the more reason the BCA executive should have consulted wider before embarking on this suicidal endeavour. As with, registration, the ACC paradigm, and prescribing rights the BCA the appointed voice of chiropractic in the UK went alone. focus in mainly on the interests of the BCA executive.  

The support to the BCA members is being provided by the BCA President and the Executive Director. Each complaint requires approximately one hour of management time in processing, discussing and reviewing the submissions to the GCC.  It must be remembered that this is in addition to the other day-to-day matters that are involved in running the organisation of the BCA. In terms of cost, dealing with this matter within the BCA office has so far cost in excess of £10,000.

The BCA has received a small ex-gratia payment from the insurer as a gesture of goodwill. However, the current position is such that, regardless of how the case proceeds, the BCA has been placed in a difficult financial position by the ongoing legal matters as a result of this action.

This is how the BCA president Tony Metcalfe explained their poor insurance coverage to members last Autumn;

“BCA council has given very serious consideration to the implications of this matter. It takes its responsibility for the wellbeing and support of its members very seriously . Consequently the BCA will be providing support to those members who are required to defend their position, by assisting in drafting “individual” responses  to be submitted to the GCCs investigating committee.  Depending on the merits of the case and at the discretion of the BCA, a funded legal resource will be available for any complaints that are referred to the Professional Conduct Committee”.

This means the old boys club will look after their own, and those they don’t like will be left to fend for themselves.  BCA president Richard Brown for a number of years has been the GCC hired gun when prosecuting UK chiropractors. I sent in a freedom of Information request to the GCC to find whether there was a conflict of interest between the money Brown had received from the GCC and his ability to represent UK chiropractors at the ECU.

1. How much has the GCC paid BCA president Richard Brown for expert witness for testimony?

A) The GCC considers this to be a subject access request for personal data. The GCC considers this request is exempt under section 10 of the Data Protection Act.

2. How much has the GCC paid Richard Brown for audits of clinics under conditions of practice orders?

A) The GCC considers this to be a subject access request for personal data. The GCC considers this request is exempt under section 10 of the Data Protection Act.

3. How much has the GCC paid experts in 2006; £59,147;

in 2007 £69,478;

in 2008 £70,425;

in 2009 £63,671

I would guess this all went to BCA members and the BCA president Richard Brown has had the lions share. When he was not acting for the GCC he was acting for BCA members which brought in more money. I am aware of two cases where he was “independent  expert”  and curiously changed his opinion towards the GCC view of the case. He e-mailed me his explanation I was not convinced.

REQUEST FOR FUNDING

In consequence of these unforeseen circumstances, the BCA is seeking a grant of €115,000. It currently contributes over €214,000 per year to the ECU, which currently has a general account of in excess of €680,000 (nearly €250000 of which is held in its general fund). After the dues are received on 30 April 2010, this account will be expanded by at least a further €100,000.

It should be stated that many members of the BCA are currently questioning the value of membership of the ECU. They do not see value in membership and many are disaffected. The BCA has lost members to other organisations that do not need to charge its members €190 for ECU membership, which is seen as a unnecessary tax at a time when many members in the UK are struggling financially. The value of ECU membership has already been questioned publicly and it may be that the BCA is called upon to conduct a ballot of its members in relation to continuing membership of the ECU. Should the UK withdraw, this would clearly have serious consequences for the future of the organisation. The BCA Council believes that the provision of a sizeable grant by the ECU will go some way to restoring confidence in the value of the ECU to BCA members.

imageggsThe BCA therefore formally requests that the ECU Executive Committee supports an emergency grant of €115,000 to the BCA. These funds are needed immediately to assist with legal costs and organisational costs.

Richard Brown DC, LL.M

BCA President

The Danes left the ECU by in large over the BCA influence on the body, GCC chairman Peter Dixon (then president of the ECU having been president of the BCA for four years) then chose to go behind the backs of the Danish association and contact Danish members himself, which did not go down too well with the Danes.

The BCA council have now pushed for prescribing rights ignoring the  WFC policy statement  on prescribing despite the fact the vast majority of British Chiropractors are against this move. In the circumstances it might be fair to assume that if the BCA was not the ECUs UK representative, there would be a more cohesive profession in the UK and possibly there would be many more chiropractors in the ECU, promoting chiropractic as a separate and distinct profession without the use of drugs and surgery.

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  • Eugene Pearce

    @ mulv, welcome to the world of chiropractic.

    I agree with Richards last post almost completely, something I thought I would never type!

    I would like to pull Richard up on the last point in the article below.

    “The BCA council have now pushed for prescribing rights ignoring the WFC policy statement on prescribing despite the fact the vast majority of British Chiropractors are against this move.”

    I propsed this, as I think as Chiropractors, we are an integral part of the healthcare community when dealing with back pain, NICE guidelines. Not to look at this possibilty based on ideology alone is wrong, and not in the interests of our patients. A point of view point of view on this basis alone, has no place in healthcare, it is a religeous standpoint.

    Many in the profession claim it will be the end of us, and flies in the face of WFC policy statement, which apparently is like the 10 commandments or declaration of independance and cant be updated or reviewed.

    Look at the evidence in Switzerland published in JMPT his month (Humphries et al) where Chiro’s can prescribe if they choose to; “Although Swiss Chiropractors are in a “medical” profession, they mainatin there own distinct identity, and are in charge of their undergraduate and posstgraduate programs, and are able to choose their own practice style.”

    I would be very hesitant joining tha AUKC SCA MCA UCA as they have signed up to the ICA best practices document that states best practice on x-ray is to x-ray every new patient contraveneing IRMR guidelines. Their treatment frequency for back pain is also frankly bizarre.

    A brief History lesson: SCA was formed to address the issues of law differences for Chiropractors practicing in Scotland.

    I was in the SCA and BCA when I graduated. The PRTS came in as mandatory with the BCA. Seeing an opportunity to swell its numbers the SCA didnt adopt the PRTS so new grads and foreign chiro’s coming to UK didnt have to do it, they could join the SCA and get insurance. (I left over SCA members not recognising the DC issued by the BCA on completeion of PRTS and threatening to discipline members who used it).

    Well it worked. Have you seen how many SCA chiro’s are in England and in Wales. Have you seen the percentage that are foreign graduates from different healthcare systems around the world. Is it any wonder they now want to pacice the way they are comfortable and make everyone else practice that way too.

    Stay where you are, speak up for what you beleive in, and practice in the best interests of your patients.

    Additionally, I am one of those defending… wait for it, Golfers elbow and Upper Back Pain on my website, and the support I have received has been excellent. Dont get me wrong I wouldnt have to defend it at all had it not been for the disasterous litigous course the BCA took over SImon Singh, but we all make mistakes even titanic ones. I can only think how much worse it would have been if I were defended by AUKC.

    On the up side it has improved the quality of memebrs websites no end who actually think about what the put on the web now.

    You pays your money, loads of it, and takes your choice…

  • http://spinaljoint.com Richard Lanigan

    I would not disagree with Dr Bilbo and you are welcome to call me at the clinic 02082553192

    I think all the associations could have done much better by their members. My personal view is there should only be one chiropractic association representing chiropractors in the UK and we should be members of the ECU and WFC.

    Therfore the BCA is the obvious choice being the largest association in Europe. However they have made mistakes regarding Simon Singh and the way they have consulted and informed their members needs to be improved. They need to explain to their members why the cover they provide is £200 dearer and offers members less cover than the one I have with MIA, who were traditionally the providers of BCA cover.

    The profession has reached a point where one hopes individuals will step forward and provide the leadership necessary through this crisis. I have my own opinions on who they are however my public endorsement would be a political kiss of death.

    My advice would be stay where you are, get involved in the political process and make it better, if like most others you wait for others to change it for you it will be a long wait.

    The chiropractic profession needs all hands pulling in the same direction and while I may appear to be a loose cannon, I care deeply about our profession.

    When justice is done I will be returning to the register and will join the association that represents its members best in the coming months.

  • Dr Bilbo Baggins

    Hi mulv

    It’s a personal choice. But as you said, you are a newbe so I am not going to go into the pros and cons of either the BCA or the AUKC. They both have merits depending how you sit in the scheme of things. It is a personal choice but I think the best advice I would give is; find out what both groups offer, what they represent, what they do/ have done for the profession and if it’s right for you and then make a decision. Whatever decision you make based on the information you have gathered will be the correct one.

    Good luck and congratulations in choosing a great profession.

  • mulv

    Its interesting that you have this on here.

    I’ve been in practice now for just over a year and having just received my BCA subscription renewal I am questioning whether it is worth it. It is going to cost me nearly £2300 to practice as a BCA chiropractor next year (inc. GCC fees) – and I am informed the BCA fees will go up even further the following year. We don’t even get the option of not paying the ECU subscription (£170).

    I am sadly starting to realise that there is a lot of self-interested politics in this profession. I find this really disappointing as a “newbie” as I love being able to help people and I love being a chiropractor.

    It cost me £1250 to practice for three months after graduation, something I was told could not be changed due to regulation. It amazed me how quickly those rules were changed once the GCC faced 600 complaints and the potential loss of £600,000 in retention fees.

    I am glad I found this article as I was contemplating not being a member of any associations and simply getting separate professional indemnity insurance. Is this recommended in your view (Richard) considering I am only a recent addition to the profession?

  • Hussein D

    Morally Corrupt? definitely.

    Financially Corrupt? i cannot determine. But, many could raise this question legitimately..

    I have no connection with BCA for many years now, but I know many of her members, good clinicians, doing good work for their patients.

    they really need to have a good look at the above, and question their representatives and their own position alike ..

    ‘you stink’ – H. Simpson.

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