Will this be payback for the misery Margaret Coats and the General Chiropractic Council caused chiropractors in recent years

July 16, 2010
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Four years ago I tried to get a few hundred chiropractors to make vexatious complaints against each other, to tie the GCC up in paperwork for years. Chiropractors thought everything would be better after the GCC elections and regulatory reform, complaints happened to the chiropractor down the road.

If the IC find there is a case to answer it has to go to a Fitness to Practice hearing. When I was on council we looked at the adversarial nature of this process and thought it would be a good idea for the committee to sit without lawyers and make a decision based on the “Papers”. If the chiropractor trusted the process it was less adversarial and would save a lot of money. The chiropractor would appear in front of the committee to hear their decision and make a case for mitigation if necessary. If chiropractors were to agree to this process in the website complaints it would please the status quo. Zeno would not have to be cross-examined 600 times, the GCC would not have to instruct a barrister for 600 complaints and the GCC would be seen to be regulating the chiropractic profession and protecting the public.

With the precedents set by previous case its easy to predict outcomes of PCC hearings, so in this case scenario the worst that could happen would be an admonishment. The statements are not in dispute so it will be relatively easy for the committee to decide which claims made on  websites constitute “Unprofessional Conduct” (UPC).

For years now the GCC has been more than happy to cause chiropractors financial hardship and stress persuing vexatious cases. This provides chiropractors with a wonderful opportunity to act as the nuisance to the GCC. The chiropractors have no insurance cover so the chiropractor has no choice but to defend themselves and their human rights have to be protected by the legal assessor during a Fitness to Practice hearing. To go this way would not cost anything because you are not using a lawyer and the worst possible outcome would be an admonishment based on previous cases.

Dana Greene would be a good person to seek advice from, she was on the committee in the Jensen case which was similar to this. Some of the comments that were on the website were on the extreme side “subluxation the silent killer” describing hysterectomies as “butchery”. The other website case which also resulted in admonishment had chiropractic curing deafness. Therefore I am confident very few of the current case will be judged as UPC, yes chiropractors were naive maybe even stupid to use the wording they used, however there is no evidence of patients being unduly influenced or harmed and I am sure very few of the complaints will result in UPC and chiropractors should have the courage of their convictions and do to the GCC what they have been doing to chiropractors for years.

The GCC will have to hire a barrister for each case. The expert opinion each chiropractor would use would be broadly similar, the only thing they would have to spend money on. There defence would go something like this; We wrote our websites based on the claims on the websites of our association the BCA and the regulator GCC and acted in good faith. Empirical evidence from our experience in practice also supported these claims. The GCC would have to have an expert report for every case and a witness and at least 2 days for every case. For 600 case they would need about 4 years and £8,000,000. This is probably why the GCC has not been presenting evidence at hearings lately, they dont have the money to prosecute complaints. Chiropractors who put a good defence together are more likely to get off by seeking a public hearing because the GCC does not have the money to  build and present a case against these chiropractors. Make no mistake a “Papers” hearing will be a deal between the BCA and the GCC to save face, with a few chiropractor bones  thrown to the skeptics to justify their efforts.

The BCA/GCC alliance has gone to great trouble keeping these chiropractors apart leaving the BCA as their only salvation, the same people who screwed up the chiropractors insurance and sued Simon Singh.

If chiropractors out there would like to get in touch with other chiropractors who would like to mount a proper defence to the GCCs allegations, they can e-mail me and I will put them in touch with other chiropractors who feel the same.

My e-mail is lanigan@ (the domain name) chiropracticlive.com

(the domain name) is not in the address I wrote it like that to avoid spam.

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

    Thanks Rod, interesting… Presumably since the GCC leaflets advertised what the chiros who have advertising complains against them were advertising, common sense will prevail…

  • rodmacmillan

    Hi Colin

    I think that the PCC tries to use common sense; they are looking at things like
    1. Is this just a mistake? And you have shown “insight” put it right and you are basically safe.
    2. Is this part of a pattern? Are you behaving badly as a general rule? In which case they are more worried

    One of the problems is the so called “independent professional opinion” the profession is diverse and if you get an independent professional opinion from a medipractor when you are wellness based you have a tough time, it is my opinion that it would be fairer to have non partisan independent professional opinion, but from your style of practice. The second issue is the lack of objectivity in assessing risk; real trivia is reaching the PCC, yes there may be a risk in not recording consent at every visit, but is it a real risk, a risk more dangerous than say the risk of driving to work? Is the standard applied the same across professions, how much consent do you have to record when a mechanic works on your car brakes? By failing to quantify risk and then producing a threshold beyond which extra care is taken, we have a situation where “cat hairs in the toilet” gets to a full PCC hearing.

    Another problem is that you can have complainants who are in every way free to lie, make it up and be unfair, I have never heard of one being prosecuted for perjury, chased to get the costs back of facing any sanction at all, no matter how much malice is behind the complaint. This is in my opinion profoundly unfair to the defendant.

    This system is unworkable; it is adversarial disproportionate and hugely expensive, lacks mediation and a filtering system.
    I suggest that if the quango got scrapped and the police took on the role of “protecting the public” and the civil courts took on the role of redress when harm was caused, then all that would happen is that many of our bureaucrats and committee sitters would find that they were not missed at all.

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

    I was talking to a chiro the other day who was under the impression that “three strikes and you’re out” – i.e. 3 parallel/overlapping complaints against you and ‘something’ happens before the complaint findings (I can’t remember what she said) – seems weird – any truth to this…?

  • http://www.chiropractorwarwick.co.uk Stefaan Vossen

    Richard,
    you know you are deemed by many to be an obnoxious, irritating and abrasive fella, and trust me, I was one of them who felt “where there is smoke there must be fire”.
    What I have come to realise over the years in this and many other areas of life is that beautiful packaging does not guarantee good contents, and vice-versa.
    All I have got to say to you in regards to the above topic: despite the fact that there are things about the way you have presented yourself in front of the profession which can, in my view, hardly be described as anything other than a royal pain in the arse:
    Thank you for all the work you have done. There is much more to come. Thank you for continuing to believe in chiropractic and open debate.
    To all those within the chiropractic profession who think it is easy to critique: it takes passion and dedication to be a royal pain in the arse for as long as Richard has been.
    To all those who think it is bad for chiropractic to critique and make public this debate: I personally feel that it is far worse to let the sickness fester and let people slowly but surely turn this profession into something it never was (and for as long as I am alive never will be) rather than blow it out into the open and be clear about what it is this profession needs to improve upon (and there are quiet a few things I would say). For a long time I have been feeling that the issues are really quite simple:
    those who want to practice something else can get together and call their professional conduct by another name. Those who want to make chiropractic better in a constructive and respectful manner should get together and take it to another level. The fact that some people find themselves under a professional banner which they regret, is their individual problem and no-one else’s. The fact that they would lose the benefit of decades of hard work done by others who did believe in chiropractic, again is their problem and no-one else’s. If they believe in medipractic a fraction of the amount of some people in chiropractic, they will separate, establish their own councils and associations, and make chiropractic redundant rather than try the easy route; take over the infrastructure and change the label.
    Many kind regards,
    Stefaan

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