Life after the GCC

January 9, 2012
By

What drives you?It’s been a very busy few months since I was last able to post regularly. So I am trying to make up for my selfishness with my second post within a few days. One of the reasons I have been a bit rubbish is because of what Richard is going through. It just reminds you of what it is all about and it has meant that I was spending some of my blogging-time smoking cigars. It was also the fact that the clinic is getting busy and the occasional gap I used to have is no longer. Also there was the fact that I was bricking it. Despite my apparent bravado I was starting to doubt whether I should have opened my gob at all. Who knows, they might have been right about me resigning being a stupid thing to do, and I cannot in all honesty say that I would certainly have been blogging about it if it had turned out they had been right.

Not perse because of any of the obvious things (My staff did observe a few “strange” new patient bookings, I did receive a spurious complaint to Companies’ House from a local chiropractor and an obscene complaint to the GCC about me calling myself a chiropractor) nor the financial side fo things (I have been fortunate enough to be able to only take on referred new patients for some time years now and have just taken on my third clinician) but because of the “what if?” factor.

What if people (real people aka patients) really do care about you being able to call yourself a chiropractor? What if, entirely beyond my own understanding of what the public cares about, it somehow turns out they actually do care about the name? I mean; I have the doctorate and I have the degrees and no-one can take those away from me, but I cannot call myself a chiropractor. Although I can call myself chiropractically qualified (how ridiculous is that?) clinician.

What if one patient talking to a prospective patient tells them that I resigned from the GCC register and they mistakenly take that to mean/misunderstand that I was a bumped off/inferior/disgraced clinician?

What if my colleagues wouldn’t talk to me any more? Maybe because they didn’t recognise me as a colleague or maybe because they misunderstood the intentions behind my public resignation? Thought I was a w4nk3r or a threat to their sense of self? (on that note: none other than the self should ever be able to be a threat to one’s own sense of self,…people who struggle with this can be classified as “victim personalities”) Either way I like chiropractors and I still wanted them to like me too. They gave me a sense of belonging and I didn’t want to lose that.

These were all quite serious “what if“s (at least in my fickle mind). Particularly to someone who worked really quite hard to not only train to become a chiropractor, but also keeps aiming to be a good and successful clinician. Turns out, 8 months down the line, that the what if‘s were no real cause for concern. Patients don’t care about what you call yourself, as long as your street cred is good. In fact I have had such strong response to my change of name that lots of people “who had tried chiropractors before” started coming in. People who were “glad that you’re not one of them” (make no mistake; I swiftly corrected their potential error of judgement). But also current patients fed back to me that they were ecstatic, because now they could stop saying to their friends that I am “a chiropractor but nothing like those you know” to their friends and family. It’s a very interesting place to be when you have to open your mind to those realities that don’t conform with our experiences… My friends still talk to me and don’t think I am any more of a w4nk3r than they did before and the chiropractors in the area who were trying to stitch me up would have done so regardless because my clinic is doing so well and theirs isn’t. Not that they have ever sought contact or asked for help. They just made assumptions about my nature.

So I am no longer a registered chiropractor. For those who are not quite sure what that means: I took myself off the register because I feel that though the intention of registration and regulation is good, its execution so far has in my opinion under-performed and been misguided. Under-performed in so far that the protection to the public it offers is in my opinion poor and meaningless and misguided in that I was told that increasing standards to become meaningful would cost the organisation too many members…  Stop and think about it. But that to the side; what does it mean today to be “a chiropractor in the UK”? It means you are registered with the GCC. What does it take to register with the GCC? You need to get your paperwork from a recognised institution commit a few hours of your working life to CPD and keep on the right side of the law. Not that hard.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight and the smugness of having gotten through it successfully: let’s analyse that:

a) getting your paperwork: I don’t want to make it sound like it’s nothing, and make no mistake; the AECC course was one of the most complete and compelling courses in the MSK arena, (despite what some of the so-called sceptics say) but it’s a course and as such it is the beginning of your learning and professional life, not its end. It also in itself does not make you a good clinician (both in the personable and technical sense of the word). What it does do is provide you with basics. Basics of clinical knowledge and safety. This is not to say that those basics are “rudimentary”. They are the basics. They “maketh the clinician not”. And if you’re blessed with the ability to store and process information to sufficient level, you can get degrees all day long.

b) committing a few hours of your working life: now this is trickier. I personally love what I do, and it is obvious that if you don’t you will struggle a little more to commit more time beyond that which you have to. I understand that. It’s natural. That said if you are stuck doing something you are not fully committed to, love & adore, are passionate about to your last breath, then you are at risk of committing the sin of mediocrity. Now, I am no moralist but that seems very much akin to wasting a life. I think Richard, with the current battle against cancer will be able to elaborate more fully on this, but if you are doing something you don’t really love, or worse still: you really don’t love, then please, please, please reconsider. No matter how heavily you are financially, emotionally or intellectually invested: it is only money and pride that will get hit. Those things mean nothing in the light of a wasted life.

My wife always said: I’d rather live in a mud hut happy and proud than a castle bitter and twisted. But that’s my wife. Some people get their kicks out of happiness, some out of castles. I am not here to judge, and think that if it weren’t for people’s love for castles we wouldn’t have much to look at in the landscape…(and don’t give me any hippy-crap about the beauty of a mudhut landscape: ask Medieval Mandy whether she thought mudhuts look gorgeous) the fact is that it isn’t the mudhut or the castle that dictates whether you’re going to be happy. The other salient point to remember is that some people live in a mudhut by default. They got stuck in a mental script which meant they dislike everything the castle stands for and moved into the hut. That’s not active free choice either. That’s your hippy friend who tells you they loathe your £400 Northamptonshire-made shoes, but doesn’t mind free-loading. And vice versa; some people will do anything to live in the castle. Debt (this is turning quite Eurozone-topical) seems largely to be the end-product from a quasi pathological fear for being associated to a lack of affluence. A Faustian attitude to what we perceive to be success, will indeed give the devil your soul…(I don’t know where I am going with this either) whether it is for castle or mudhut is largely irrelevant, whether you are willing to sell your soul for it, very much is.

So is the GCC the devil? Am I the battling Faust? Far from it, the GCC is not the devil, its occasional and accidental mediocrity is. In apparant direct contrast with my earlier “I am not here to judge” statement, I am willing to judge that. I am even willing to convict it. The problem with such brazen ardour and bravery is that on further analysis it appears that the GCC is the act of consensus between people populating a panel, a council which dilutes passion, focus and attention. It’s a “necessary evil”. But how “necessary” is it? The iphone would probably never have happened if Apple was run by council. But then if Xerox had been run by Steve Jobs it would have been bankrupt. (Xerox invented the rudimentary interface which you see today on your computers in the form of desktop icons and was one of silicon valley’s pioneers but a very dull engineering-type of company)

I think there is no right or wrong in these things. I don’t mind when people work hard to make money, as long as it isn’t done at the expense of higher principles. I don’t mind if people while away their time in light-hearted entertainment, as long as it is done with purpose and meaning. I don’t mind some mediocrity in the name of collaborative consensus, because there is safety in numbers and the person central to the GCC is the patient, and the patient is very vulnerable, so the risk for mediocrity is equally heightened. Consequently the humanist in me says that the principle of protecting the patient outweighs the risks of being mediocre. And if mediocrity is indelibly associated to measures which safeguard the patient then so be it. (Whether this actually is the case or not is a different matter and I will look into it at some other time)

The one thing you can get from this is that everything that exists, exists because it works well enough to exist (Darwin all the way) and can always be improved upon. Sometimes by adaptation, sometimes by extinction. There is no good, there is no evil. There is just their respective appearances. What I have come to understand over the past 8 months (and then some) is that I am not rejecting the regulatory process, the GCC, its council or its process, I have revoked my membership with the GCC because some people living within it created a lie which is designed to create a comfortable breathing space for people who think that merely pronouncing “they have the best interest of the patient at heart” is enough to be believed or for it to be the case. In the meanwhile nothing really changes and that is not acceptable in my opinion. That’s why I am going to be playing by different rules. Rules which have sometimes driven me to dispair and mean I don’t see my children much, but which are just and fair for the patient.

And that makes me a clinican.

What are you?

Regards,

Stefaan

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  • http://www.chiropracticlive.com Richard Lanigan

    Exactly. Of course he would not because common law, overrides anything the GCC says or does. If you mislead the public you have trading standards. If you harm someone they go to the police. O yes the GCC was brought in to Promote the profession, which it no longer does and set Medical standards of education

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    Liam, didn’t see it until you pointed it out. 
    question is: would he have been able to continue practising had the GCC not been there?

  • http://welshandgrumpy.blogspot.com/ Colin Jenkins

    The comment hyperlinks from sidebar (time) to actual comments seem to be broken, or is it just me…? 

  • http://www.chiropracticlive.com Richard Lanigan

    Terrible, was at college with the guy. Seemed like a nice guy, has a family and kids. There is an interesting comparison here with Stuart Lawrence case. Where the GCC act on police evidence or where they ignore the police investigation as in Stuart Lawrence’s case and try and manufacture their own evidence.

  • http://www.chiropracticlive.com Richard Lanigan

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1410477066676 
    sad but true. Now we have Charlie Harper for a role model Two and a Half Men.   Charlie tells him “Your not a real doctor, you just could not get into med school.  ”Yes I could I just did not want to spend 4 years in Quadalahara. In fact I was voted San Fernando Chiropractor of the year” for pretending to be a doctor. Dear me

  • Liam

    Hi Stefaan, have you seen the recent case on the GCC,s  site? I think it’s the first actual case where they are protecting the public, he had rohipnol and child images .

  • Liam Mulvany

    The date should have been 1988, sorry, god i’m getting old.

  • Liam Mulvany

    I remember 1998 sitting infront of Bronwen Herbertson, a physio who trained as a McT, and she was saying we are just not sure wether to go down this path of regulation or go our seperate way and call ourselves  McT. I think there was a real battle in the IPC, as it was know then, as to which path to take. 

    Richard, have you seen the simpsons chiro episode where all the local chiros pay bart a visit?

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    What I don’t get is that rapsists will be ousted by the community. Now even more so than ever before with social media. Assuming that Alan Breen was referring to rapists who got caught of course. I am in this instance assuming that the GCC registration procedures don’t screen for potential rapists? 

  • Richard Lanigan

    Hi Stefaan,
    Of course its a joke, how can you regulate such diverse views. Its like bringing all people who believe in a God to St Peters Square and the Pope comming out on the pulpit and telling the “believers” this is how we are going to do things from now on.

    As students we had probably much more discussions about  regulation than the BCA council did. We saw all these problems, that Tony Metcalfe and Peter Dixon could not see. We had a meeting with them in the hall in 94 it was packed, they were loosing the argument for the register. And then long time GCC council member Alan Breene stood up “Do you want rapists practicing as chiropractors, because thats what you will get if you dont have regulation”  he shouted. These people could only see “respectability” acess to health care funds from insurance companies and the like and and assumed another clown would put these clowns bein in charge of the nations Back pain epidemic. At least there are no convicted rapists on the register. However being an arsehole does not exclude someone from the chiropractic register and their are quiet a few of them on the register.

     I have a great little story about a chioropractor who chose to buy a motor bike than pay me the £500 he owed me for helping him with his GCC complaint. Then when I recently reminded him of his debt by private message on Facebook he threatened to come around and visit me if i ever contacted him again.As you can imagine someone like me gets lots of threats, but this was the first time someone had been stupid enough to put it in writing. I had images of a group of chiropractic thugs” comming around and my colostomy bag bursing over them as they gave me a hiding, that would be what is meant by the “shit hitting the fan”.  The chiropractor concerned has a spot of bother going on with the GCC at the moment  and I saving the story until he is trying to convince the PCC what a nice guy he is.

  • http://www.chiropractorswarwick.co.uk Stefaan A.L.P. Vossen

    HI Richard,
    I was talking to an Italian chiropractor who came over to London yesterday and he was very interested to find out that things weren’t any different in the UK. Different standards, different theories, techniques etc. It does make you wonder what the chiropractic profession in teh UK actually is? It seems like the common denominator is limited to “has gone to chiropractic college somewhere in the world and has registered with the GCC”.
    What it does, what it’s good for, what the research has identified it to do and what the professionals within it agree it is for are so widely varied that it is relatively speaking impossible to get a clear “promotion of the profession” or even “protection of the public” going. So what the point is of regulating something that has no internal agreement about what it is in the first place is very hard to see.
    Hope you’re well

  • Richard Lanigan

    Colin when I was communicating with Simon Singh about his case with the BCA. The subject heading I used was something like “the blind being led by Donkeys”. I do have a book in me and I am working on it, I painted a pretty grim picture above’ if you have been viewing my comments on Facebook you will know there have been more laughs than drama this year and I hope to do somethink like the Big C from channel 4. Even Blue Wode is being nice to me, I cant believe I am saying this but I have come to like him and his passion even though some of its directed at what I do. Lets face it the chiropractic profession has not defended itself very well and we cant go on blaming Simon Singh and the Skeptics for the hole it has dug for itself.

    A comment of yours somewhere took me to the “subluxation” discusion on Linkedin. It has taken an interesting twist, which i believe is the major problem “subluxation theory ” has, chiropractors of faith who “correct the subluxation and explain it with a “God heals”. Give me patience!

  • http://welshandgrumpy.blogspot.com/ Colin Jenkins

    You really need to write a book…  “Heros led by Donkeys”?

  • Richard Lanigan

    Hi Stefaan,

    I would like to put in context what you describe as “what I
    am going through” in relation to my time on the GCC council. The reason I have
    not been blogging is not because of my health, its because right now I have
    very little empathy for other peoples problems especially not chiropractors. On
    boxing day Jeanette’s brother in law dropped dead on the kitchen floor aged 52,
    all I could think was, I am glad its not me and right now all my energies go towards
    my kids and my wellbeing.

    This year has been hard, but it pales in comparison with my
    9 months on the GCC. I have learned to live with cancer,  hopefully it is gone, never to come back, only
    time will tell. During the summer I had chemo and radiotherapy to shrink my
    rectal tumour, this was removed in late August in a six hour operation. Unfortunately
    there was some spread to lymph modes and I am undergoing six months of chemotherapy,
    combined with lifestyle changes,  hopefully
    to ensure I dont get uncontrollable cancer cell growth again.  The worst part of the treatment is “Dixon”,  the temporary colostomy bag which I will have
    until July. This experience has not been easy however I believe in the old
    adage, what does not kill you will make you stronger and  I hope  ten years from now to be able to say cancer  was a worthwhile experience and that I learned
     much from it.

    I would never describe my time on the GCC as a “worthwhile
    experience”.  Statutory self regulation
    has nothing to do with protecting the public, its a buffer for government bodies
    who dont have to take the heat when major organisations fuck up. Just look at
    the Royal Bank Of Scotland http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15334465
    their chief executive Fred Goodwin brought the economy to its knees, 20,000 employees
    lost their jobs, while self satisfied board members, drunk on their own self
    importance, looked on.  People were
    shocked when the News of the World hacked into people private lives, yet
    Peter  Dixon  council members and for that matter the
    chiropractic profession, hardly batted an eye lid when Margaret Coats  sent private investigators into peoples
    clinics in an effort to entrap them into committing a crime. They looked the
    other way when her deputy Greg Price denigrated registered chiropractors on the
    internet, they opened peoples letters, every low life activity imaginable could
    have been perpetuated at Wicklow street and few wanted to know.  Now we have “chiropractors” who believe by
    paying £1000 a year (now discounted by 25%) they have some kind of legitimacy to
    call themselves  “chiropractor”, if you
    were the best in your community would you lower yourself to making complaints
    about guys who you knew were properly trained as chiropractors. No, the fact is
    the public does not care whether you are registered or not they just want to
    know if you are good at practising the art of chiropractic and if you are crap
    and cant adjust, the register is not going to help you get patients.

    The powers that be should pray that cancer does kill me,
    because I can assure them it will not be long before I start calling myself a
    chiropractor and challenge the right of these unelected jobs worths to tell
    anyone what their worth is.

    The years 2006 -2008 were absolute hell, trying to get these
    GCC hooligans to behave and treat  registrants and patients fairly and with
    respect. I am reminded by the comment of one former council member to me before
    I was elected,  “remember pigs like
    rolling in shit, you might not like it”   My colostomy bag  fills up  as the day goes on and when the pressure
    builds up inside I have to empty it.  Its
    like squeezing a tube of tooth paste, the  raw sewage pours out it and it stinks, its
    disgusting, demeaning and I have to do this four or five times a day. When I
    started the chemo I got terrible diarrhoea  and the Dixon bags are not designed for holding
    liquid. One night the bag burst, Janette was away and my eight year old
    daughter came to my rescue, (if only chiropractors had shown on tenth of the
    courage my kids have shown this year) I had to lie still as she helped me mop
    up the mess.  She asked me is this the
    worst thing thats ever happened to you, at first I thought it was and then I
    thought about it and the most unpleasant stressful period of my life was my
    time on the GCC.  No as bad as this was
    it did not compare to having to be civil and spend time with those pieces of
    shit on the GCC council. Perhaps they were right after all I am not a
    professional person, I am a good chiropractor but not very professional. Fortunately
    people with cancer are not expected to be professional, all I have to do is
    smile now and people think I am wonderful, so if any of the GCC low lifes think
    cancer will quiten me, sadly they are mistaken, in fact more people may pay
    attention to a cancer survivor?? Only time will tell.

  • Barney

    You are being much fairer to the GCC than I would.  I left the GCC because it did not really protect patients; it protected itself.  It was also corrupt and even its Council members were unable to deal with it.

    I am no longer a chiropractor. I am not a clinician either. I am me. My patients don’t give a damn whether or not I am registered, educated, PC, or sane for that matter.  I love my work and we get on just fine.

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