Since the BCA got the decision in the libel case against Simon Singh two weeks ago Simon Sings supporters on his facebook profile have doubled to 4,500. Its one thing sceptics not liking chiropractic now they have a cause to rally around. “Simon Singhs use of the word Bogus”. The problem is not Simon Singh, the problem is the difficulty the chiropractic profession has in articulating what chiropractic is and what it does.
Chiropractic sceptics have ASA decisions against chiropractors and they can now complain to the GCC. Ordinarily the GCC would be more than happy to oblige except the GCC have barely enough money to prosecute the complaints it has on its books now, if the sceptics were to make a few hundred complaints about chiropractors advertising that they treat colic, with any luck it might finish the the GCC.
Gimpys Blog shows how the GCC stated in 2004 there are bogus chiropractors out there and they will root them out. They Quackometer is trying to get sceptics on all the Google searches of chiropractic.
The posting below is from the blog Cargo Cult Science
As shown before, the BCA’s libel action against Simon Singh is causing a significant Streisand effect, drawing attention to dodgy claims made by chiropractors and their representative organisations in the UK.
It didn’t take much googling to find a relatively local chiropractor making dodgy claims, and I now present to you… Victoria Chiropractic Clinic, Woking, Surrey, run by "Dr" Jeremy Spanton and Dr (PhD only) Nichola Worril.
So, what are the claims they are making, and how to they breach General Chiropractic Council regulations?
Use of the "Dr" title
It should be made clear that in the UK "Dr" is not a protected title. Anyone can call themselves a doctor if they wish, however certain organisations take a dim view of doing so misleadingly, including the GCC and the Advertising Standards Agency.
GCC guidelines, to which Spanton and Worril, as members, are bound, state that chiropractors:
must not use any title or qualification in such a way that the public may be misled as to its meaning or significance. In particular, chiropractors who use the title of ‘doctor’ and who are not registered medical practitioners must ensure that they make it clear that they are registered chiropractors and not registered medical practitioners
Whilst their website does indicate that Worril has a PhD (though it’s not clear in what), there is no such explanation of Jeremy Spanton’s title. Searching the General Medical Council’s register brings up no results for a Dr Spanton. It is therefore likely that Spanton is using the term misleadingly. An email asking the clinic to confirm his qualifications has not been replied to in three days. The GCC will therefore be recieving a complaint about this claim.
Claims that chiropractic can help with conditions with no supporting evidence
Victoria Clinic’s website has a page about what they can treat. Rather disturbingly they recommend chiropractic checks of children along the same lines as dental, hearing, eyesight checks etc. They seem to play the guilt card somewhat by claiming that:
Without Chiropractic care some children will live in continued sickness, condemned to a life of taking medicines and perhaps even surgery.
Whilst this is distasteful, the key part of this page which breaks GCC guidelines is the following:
Chiropractic care has been beneficial in a wide range of child-hood ailments, including:
ADHD, Asthma, Bedwetting, Colic, Poor posture, Allergies
The claim about Colic is one that cannot be justified. Again, I have emailed the clinic asking for evidence for this claim, but with no response. Victoria Chiropractic is not the only clinic to make such claims. In fact, a chiropractor named Carl Irwin recently made similar claims, which were investigated by the ASA. The full adjudication is available here, and the relevant extract quoted below:
We considered that, whilst some of the studies indicated that further research was worth pursuing, in particular in relation to the chiropractic relief of colic, we had not seen robust clinical evidence to support the claim that chiropractic could treat IBS, colic and learning difficulties.
This is important for all chiropractors, as the GCC require that chiropractors:
may publicise their practices or permit another person to do so consistent with the law and the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority.
By claiming that chiropractic is beneficial for colic Victoria Chiropractic is not being consistent with ASA regulations and guidance, and as such may be breaking GCC guidelines.
A complaint will be made to the GCC about Victoria Chiropractic, who rather disappointingly have not responded to my concerns put to them by email.
Victoria Chiropractic certainly aren’t the first to be making such claims. There are many more out there, and I, along with other bloggers, will be investigating these and making further complaints to the GCC until they start cleaning up their act and taking their own guidelines more seriously.
For more blogs on chiropractic claims, visit:
Following my last post, I’ve now officially complained to Victoria Chiropractic, Woking, to give them an opportunity to get their website in order before a complaint to the GCC. Here’s the complaint:
Following my previous emails I would now like to make a complaint about Victoria Chiropractic Clinic, which unless adequately resolved I will be forwarding on to the General Chiropractic Council.
I have two complaints to make, as I believe in each case you are breaching GCC regulations.
My first complaint relates to the use of the title "Dr" to describe Jeremy Spanton on your website. I believe the use of this term is misleading, as members of the public may be led to believe that Jeremy Spanton is a medical doctor. Whilst Nichola Worril states that she has a PhD, there is no such explanation of Jeremy Spanton’s use of the title. I have searched the General Medical Council’s register and find no Dr Spanton, and therefore assume he is not a registered medical practitioner.
I would like to refer you to GCC regulations which state that members:
"must not use any title or qualification in such a way that the public may be misled as to its meaning or significance. In particular, chiropractors who use the title of ‘doctor’ and who are not registered medical practitioners must ensure that they make it clear that they are registered chiropractors and not registered medical practitioners"
My second complaint relates to you page entitles "What we treat". On this page you claim that chiropractic is beneficial for children suffering from colic, amongst other conditions. However, you provide no evidence to back up these claims. I would like to refer you to a recent Advertising Standards Authority adjudication against a chiropractor named Carl Irwin, which stated that:
"We considered that, whilst some of the studies indicated that further research was worth pursuing, in particular in relation to the chiropractic relief of colic, we had not seen robust clinical evidence to support the claim that chiropractic could treat IBS, colic and learning difficulties."
The adjudication also instructed Irwin: " not to refer to the treatment of IBS, colic and learning difficulties in future."
I should remind you that GCC regulations state that members:
"may publicise their practices or permit another person to do so consistent with the law and the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority."
Your claims are clearly not consistent with ASA guidance, and therefore are not permitted by the GCC.
I therefore request that you clarify Jeremy Spanton’s qualifications on your website and remove any claims for which robust evidence is not available. I would also like you to acknowledge this complaint and confirm your intent to resolve these issues as soon as possible. Should I recieve no response, or not be satisfied with your response I will be submitting a complaint to the GCC and may also complain to Trading Standard.