Before blind ambition messed up his brain GCC chairman Peter Dixon sounded like a reasonable chiropractor

Peter Dixon  can sound very reasonable. He will look you in the eye tell you exactly what you want to hear and go and tell someone else what they want to hear, the fact that this may  be the completely different from what he told you does not seem to bother him like a clasical politician speak. He wrote this for the Journal of the European Union in 2001 before he pissed them off after being their president for four years and Denmark left the organisation.

The Position Of The ECU With Regard To The  Debate Relating To Philosophy And Styles Of Practice

(Written by Peter Dixon in 2001 while president of ECU)

This has become a major bone of contention within the profession across Europe in the last few years. Many assumptions have been made on both sides of the style of practice, motivation, ability and even emotions of Chiropractors. We need to bridge this divide, or we run the risk of creating a catastrophic schism within the profession in Europe where currently the future for Chiropractic is better than almost anywhere else in the world.

One of our great strengths as a profession is the diversity that is Chiropractic. It is not possible to absolutely define what it is to be a Chiropractor, and we must all accept that there are differences in the way we were educated, the way we choose to interpret that knowledge and the way we then handle our practices as a result. None of us have the right to criticise another’s style, unless there is the potential for injury to the patients being treated. There may be certain business practices that are questionable, and I hope that as a profession we all practice within the law, and as moral and responsible professionals. From my experience the commitment to the patient must remain the most important issues. If spending 15 minutes with each patient is necessary for one Chiropractor, then that is absolutely fine. It will not enable that practice to see the same volume of patients as a practice that dedicates 5 minutes to a visit, but there is no reason to criticise the quality of care delivered by either practice on the basis of time. It is clear that time must be given on the first visit to ensure that a proper diagnosis is made. We then all agree that the more people that can benefit from Chiropractic the better, and the key is that they benefit. People are not idiots, and surely they would not continue to generate referrals to any practice if they were not experiencing benefits.

Most responsible Chiropractors accept the need to maintain their education after graduation. A varied diet is better for us, and national associations should try to encourage a variety of seminars and speakers to cater for all the needs of the profession in their country. We should equally try to attend a variety of presentation and not stick firmly within our ‘safe zone’ refusing to expose ourselves to new or different concepts. There are certain issues that are generally considered unreasonable, and as governing bodies the national associations should actively discourage. These would include the teaching of Chiropractic techniques to non-Chiropractic profession and the endorsement of claims that are untenable and therefore bring the profession into disrepute.

The pursuit of legislation for the profession worldwide has been the accepted goal of the WFC and its constituent Associations, and was indeed the goal of the profession for many years prior to the formation of the world body or indeed many national associations. Indeed the union of a group of professionals is usually to enhance their reputation and protect their status. Governments the world over will scrutinize any legislative initiative using existing expertise. That expertise is based within the scientific community, and like it or not we must use the scientific lobby to help us. The medical lobby will also influence them, if for no other reason than that they are seen to be the guardians of a nations health. Ignoring the force of these lobbies will inevitably lead down a blind ally, and Chiropractic will be at best ignored, and at worst outlawed. That does not mean that all of the ideas of those lobbies have to be accepted by the profession, indeed the whole basis of modern science is now under serious review and we may find ourselves at the forefront of research purely because of the results we achieve. It is however very necessary to remain within the debate because if we allow the profession to be marginalized in one country, it will then be necessary to rely on the reputation of the profession elsewhere with the inevitable result that control of the process is lost. In that case fewer patients will be treated, and unqualified or inept practitioners may well step into the breach.

No legislation is going to please everyone, and all legislation will be accompanied by some sort of scrutiny of, and commitment by, members of the profession. That should not be seen as a bad thing. It protects the standards, and restricts registration to those who meet those standards. Once a law is in place, then the status of the profession is established, and with the progress of time amendments will be made to that law. It is with those amendments that small discrepancies can be ironed out, but the important fact is that Chiropractic is protected. At the same time we must be wary not to accept inept legislation, and it is the responsibility of all members of the profession to take an interest in the process so that they are able to highlight issues that they see as counter-productive before they are enshrined in law.

In order for this whole scenario to unfold, we must be grown-up enough to sustain dialogue within the profession, ignore differences that may seem vast but in reality do not alter the fact that we all belong to one profession and never lose sight of the ultimate goal of a self-regulating, autonomous and self-confident Chiropractic profession worldwide.

Within the ECU we need to take a broad view of the needs of our membership, and intend broadening the scope of the ECU conventions so that a wider range of ideas can be examined. This will not change the nature of the conventions in that we will still require abstracts beforehand, and the content will have to be relevant to the title, but we hope to extend the debate to those Chiropractors working in Europe who have previously felt that their views have not been listened to.

The ECU has no remit to interfere in the internal politics of any of its members. It does have a responsibility to promote Chiropractic on the European stage, and to help individual countries as problems arise. I hope that this essay in some way establishes the need for continued unity as well as a healthy debate regarding our differences. Much of the dialogue to date has been negative and counterproductive and we do not want to see our profession in Europe descend into the unproductive and un-edifying infighting that has been a familiar feature of the development of the profession elsewhere.

Peter Dixon DC
President of the European Chiropractors’ Union

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