Osteopaths tell “skeptics” their complaints are vexatious. GCC send 700 to the PCC. CHRE conclude both regulatory bodies are doing an excellent job.

Humpty1The CHRE have published their annual report on the health regulatory bodies they regulate.

Below are the CHRE conclusions about the General Osteopathic Council way of regulating for 2010 and their entire report for the GCC. Skeptic complaints about GOC members did not get out of their Investigating committee because they could see they were vexatious. The GCC referred 700 to the PCC for hearing yet the CHRE conclude  both bodies are doing and excellent job?? You could not make up the stuff you find about these quangos. The problem is the CHRE needs the regulatory bodies to fund them next year as the government has withdrawn funding.

Conclusion about the General Osteopathic Council Fitness to Practice Audit Report
9.8 We consider that the decisions to close the cases we reviewed were reasonable
and the reasons given were clear and comprehensive. Our audit showed that the
GOsC’s systems consistently help to deliver high-quality decisions, which are
communicated to parties in a professional way. Overall, our audit found a well managed system of casework with no evidence of significant risks to patients or to
the maintenance of public confidence.

GCC fitness to practise audit report
5.1 In June 2010 CHRE audited the initial stages of the fitness to practise procedures of
the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). We did this by auditing cases that the
GCC had closed without referral to a final stage fitness to practise panel hearing
during the six months ending 31 May 2010.
5.2 This meant we reviewed 47 cases. In the previous year’s audit we reviewed all
cases closed during the financial year 2008/09 (22 cases in total).
5.3 The nature of the cases closed in the six month period was significantly different to
the cases reviewed in 2009. Despite covering a shorter period, the number of cases
closed was much higher, and all of the cases came from just three complainants.
Only one complaint concerned the quality of treatment that a patient had received.
The other 46 cases were complaints about chiropractors’ websites. One of the
complainants made almost identical allegations about 40 individual chiropractors’
websites and the direct or indirect claims they had made about the treatments they
offered and their use of the title ‘Dr’.
5.4 The third complainant made allegations against five chiropractors. Again the
complaints were almost identical, and concerned direct or indirect claims that the
chiropractors had made on websites about treatments they offered.
5.5 The legislation governing the GCC’s fitness to practise procedures means that each
complaint has to be considered individually by the investigating committee, which
decides whether there is a ‘case to answer’ (in which event the case is referred to
the professional conduct committee). If the investigating committee decides that
there is no ‘case to answer’, the case is closed. We understand that the total
number of cases received by the GCC as a result of these two bulk complaints was
approximately 600. Many of these fell outside the scope of this audit. This is
because they were closed outside our sampling period, or were referred to the
professional conduct committee because the investigating committee decided that
there was a case to answer. We know that the number of complaints has presented
a great administrative challenge to the GCC, which it has managed effectively.
5.6 The GCC’s investigating committee agreed case handling principles to ensure
consistency of its decision making in relation to the cases arising from the two bulk
complaints. The GCC commissioned a review of the research on the effectiveness
of manual therapies for a wide range of conditions. This review was provided to the
investigating committee to assist it in maintaining a consistent approach in its
consideration of the cases arising from the two bulk complaints. In deciding whether
or not there was a case to answer, the investigating committee frequently referred
to the review to ascertain whether or not there was sufficiently strong research to
support advertised claims by the chiropractor.
5.7 We consider that the cases we reviewed show that the GCC’s approach was
proportionate, targeted and fair and that its investigating committee took a © CHRE March 2011  18
consistent approach to decision making. This confirms the positive conclusions we
reached in last year’s audit.
5.8 In all the cases we reviewed in this audit, the investigating committee made
reasonable decisions and in our view gave clear logical reasons for its decisions.
5.9 We identified one concern about the clarity, from the complainant’s perspective, of
the committee’s reasoning in a small number of cases. These were cases in which
the investigating committee had identified that one or two claims made by particular
websites were not appropriately supported by evidence, but the threshold for
referral to the professional conduct committee was not met. The outcome of these
cases was that the investigating committee decided to provide advice to the
relevant registrants about the claims that were not supported by ‘high or moderate
positive’ evidence.
5.10 Our concern was that the complainant might not understand why the case did not
meet the threshold for referral to the professional conduct committee, in
circumstances where one or two claims had been identified as not being adequately
supported by evidence. The GCC’s letter to the complainant explained the
investigating committee’s function and the evidence that was considered by the
committee in relation to the complaint. It concluded by stating ‘…having taken all
the information before it into consideration, the investigating committee has
concluded that the facts of this complaint, taken at their highest, would not be
capable of amounting to unacceptable professional conduct…’. In our view,
expanding this statement might have assisted the complainant in understanding the
committee’s decision. The committee could have explained further why those
particular website claims were not, in the committee’s judgment, serious enough to
amount to ‘conduct which falls short of the standard required of a registered
chiropractor’. For example this may have been because its concerns about the
claims were too minor in nature or too few in number for the website to be regarded
as misleading overall.
5.11 Some additional explanation might also reduce any risk of a complainant
considering that their complaint had not been properly addressed. We regard this
as important for public confidence in regulation.
5.12 The GCC’s practice, as at several other regulators, is to send a copy of the
complaint letter to each registrant who is under investigation. We identified one
situation in which this practice appeared to have led to the complainant’s email
address being misused (not by the GCC).
5.13 We have seen evidence that the GCC reacted quickly and appropriately once the
complainant notified them of this. The GCC has confirmed that it reported the
matter to the Information Commissioner (who confirmed that there had been no
breach of the Data Protection Act by the GCC). The GCC also commissioned a
solicitor’s investigation to try to identify whether any of the GCC’s registrants had
misused the complainant’s personal data, and to ensure that no member of the
GCC’s staff had done so. The GCC explained to the complainant what action it had
taken. We also note that the GCC took immediate action to review its own
processes, to remove any potential risk of complainants’ contact details being
disclosed. We consider that this was a proportionate and responsible way of dealing
with the situation.  © CHRE March 2011  19
5.14 We consider that, overall, the GCC dealt thoroughly and carefully with the cases we
5.15 We would also like to commend the approach taken by the GCC’s investigating
committee in dealing with the cases arising from the two bulk complaints. Not only
did the committee take steps to ensure that it dealt consistently with the cases, it
also undertook a detailed investigation of each website that formed the subject of a
complaint, in order to ensure that all potential concerns (not just those specifically
highlighted by the complainant) were considered.
Conclusion and recommendations
5.16 The nature of the complaints made to the GCC during the period we reviewed in
this audit was atypical, as the vast majority of cases originated from two bulk
complaints which concerned website information rather than allegations about
competence and conduct during the treatment of patients. However the GCC’s
professional approach, which was displayed in the cases we reviewed, supports the
positive findings in our previous audit, and we conclude that the GCC has continued
to protect the public and the reputation of the profession. This is particularly
impressive in light of the significant increase in the volume of cases that the GCC
has had to deal with during this period.

Share Button

13 comments for “Osteopaths tell “skeptics” their complaints are vexatious. GCC send 700 to the PCC. CHRE conclude both regulatory bodies are doing an excellent job.

Comments are closed.