In July I quoted from the BCA members Newsletter “In Touch” when the President of the BCA Tony Metcalfe reassured members and advises them to keep the Simon Singh issue “in perspective”. He asked “how many of your patients are aware of what is going on? I can tell you that none of my patients have raised any issues of concern with me and are not in the slightest bit interested in the Singh legal action” . Just shows how misguided these people were, but their naivety does not stop there, it was ridiculous for BCA leaders in the early 90s to think you could mould a diverse group of chiropractic into one homogenous profession that could be regulated by medipractors from the GCC. The current situation is well articulated by Martin Robbins in the most recent article about the Simon Singh case published by the Guardian.
Furious backlash from Simon Singh libel case puts chiropractors on ropes
Martin Robbins states in the article; “the British Chiropractic Association’s battle with Simon Singh continues to work its way through the legal system, chiropractors are counting the financial costs of a major backlash resulting from a libel action that has left the Lord Chief Justice "baffled". What was originally a dispute between the BCA and one science writer over free speech has become a brutally effective campaign to reform an entire industry.
A staggering one in four chiropractors in Britain are now under investigation for allegedly making misleading claims in advertisements, according to figures from the General Chiropractic Council.The council, which is responsible for regulating the profession and has 2,400 chiropractors on its books, informs me that it has had to recruit six new members of staff to deal with a fifteenfold increase in complaints against its members – from 40 a year to 600. While it declined to comment directly on the costs inflicted by the reaction to the BCA’s actions, it is clear that a six-figure sum will be involved for the extra staffing costs alone, to which will have to be added the considerable costs of any misconduct hearings”
A few years ago a British chiropractor who wanted his site developed in the UK gave a developer the information about chiropractic. He failed to check the website before it went live, Instead of putting it into the context of DD Palmer in 1895, the GCC picked up the wording “chiropractic cured deafness”. The chiropractor took the website down as soon as he was made aware of the developers mistake. The GCC took it to a full Professional Conduct Committee hearing and admonished the chiropractor at a cost of £13,525.
To investigate 40 cases in 2009 cost the GCC £19,650 as yet none of the “Zeno”cases have appeared before the Investigating Committee. They will cost in the region of £250,000 which the GCC can manage. What they would have difficulty with is if the IC referrs more than 100 cases to the PCC. I have had my freedom of information requests returned from the GCC and they assure me at this time the have not increased their mortgage to fund these complaints.
Ten years ago a Kings fund study “Informing Patients” found numerous false claims in the waiting rooms of GP surgeries, I bet not one became a complaint. In fact when I raised the outdated information being circulated by GPs at a Primary Care Group meetings, chiropractors told me off because GPs said they would stop referring if I kept asking questions.
So what is the chiropractic profession going to do now? Assimilate itself into the biomedical model regulated by the GCC or remain separate and distinct from medicine in providing health care. To most chiropractors regulation meant not having to pay VAT, that was the carrot that attracted them. They assumed the only downside BCA members saw was having to call McTimoney practitioners colleagues. The first two cases to come before the GCC was the Roger White case questioning whether subluxation was an acceptable diagnosis and the Jensen case where Jesper Jensen made claims on his website that the GCC did not like. The fact some of the comments about hysterectomies were lifted from a book sold at BMJ.com did not matter to the GCC. The GCC got council member David Byfield to help them define chiropractors scope of practice.Something he made a mess of, by exaggerating and inventing claims that Jensen was supposed to have made on the website. How Ironic that chiropractic sceptics have succeeded where Byfield failed.
Many of the chiropractic websites were developed in the US. The “claims” were passed as acceptable by the FTC in a case they brought against Tedd Koren in the US about seven years ago. It never occurred to British Chiropractors they would be held to account over how they articulated “a treatment for colic” versus “may help children with colic” which is acceptable and is on my website
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