A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

The General Chiropractic Council is knowingly and deliberately violating its own code of practice


The General Chiropractic Council is knowingly and deliberately violating its own code of practice and continuing to mislead the very patients it is meant to protect.

My previous post detailed how the General Chiropractic Council resolved my Advertising Standards Authority complaint against them informally. I also noted that as yet, the GCC has not removed their Patient Information Leaflet from their web site.

About a week after the informal resolution was made (but before it was published), I spoke to the ASA on the telephone about the fact that they were continuing to make these unsubstantiated claims. A concerned ASA voice told me:

"We would have hoped they would have taken this down by now."

So on the 6th October I emailed the GCC to ask their intentions:

"I notice that despite your informal resolution with the ASA, that the text still appears on your patient information leaflet here: http://www.gcc-uk.org/files/link_file/WhatCanI_142_5(Web-Version).pdf

Are you intending to take down or change this leaflet?"

And on the 8th, I received a reply in the post:


I emailed the ASA by email to get their take on this:

"I contacted the GCC following my finding that they had not removed the Patient Information Leaflet from their web site. I had a rather surprising reply from them this morning. They said that they will take it down in reasonable time - and suggested that this would happen once they had taken the time to re-write the document and translate it into several languages.

This is shocking. Surely it makes sense for them to take it down now if it breaches ASA standards - or not at all if it doesn't. Surely while they are re-printing they should not be continuing to distribute the material?

Can you clarify the ASA's position on this?"

And the ASA's reply was fairly clear:

"We’d normally expect an advertiser to implement the changes as soon as is 'reasonably practicable' (bearing in mind the time involved in printing new leaflets).

However, if it’s a leaflet on a website then it should be taken down as soon as possible."

So the ASA (rather unsurprisingly) agrees with me that it is unreasonable to continue to make unsubstantiated claims solely on the grounds that you haven't got around to writing and translating anything honest yet.

Based on the informal resolution and the above text from letters and emails, I can't draw any conclusion other than:
  • The Chief Executive of the GCC is fully aware that its Patient Information Leaflet violates ASA guidelines.
  • The Chief Executive of the GCC is aware that this leaflet is continuing to be made available on their web site.
  • The Chief Executive of the GCC is in no rush to do anything about it.
How can the GCC be expected to regulate the chiropractic profession when it knowingly and deliberately violates the very guidelines it is meant to be enforcing?

I think it's time for a complaint against the GCC itself.

Hopefully they'll take my complaint seriously, clean up the regulatory body, start properly regulating the chiropractors and move towards a future of evidence-based chiropractic.

Then I can get back to my game of World of Warcraft.

7 comments:

Valor said...

Keep the pressure on Simon! :)

For the Horde!

Matt (part time skeptic in the pub'er, and recovering Horde Druid)

Le Canard Noir said...

It is time for Margaret Coats to resign. How can the public have the confidence in her to carry out her duties?

6p00e54f0bf7668834 said...

Well done Simon.

As an "Informally Resolved Complaint" we don't know what the ASA said to the GCC. It's time to rinse and repeat since the GCC have changed the leaflet to say
"A review is being carried out of the evidence as to whether chiropractic may ease some of the symptoms of some types of:
- asthma - headaches, including migraine and - infant colic."

It seems to me that this will still give consumers the impression that there is evidence for Chiropractors treating asthma, migraine and colic. It would be good to have the ASA's ruling on this (I'm not in the U.K. so I can't do it)

I think a more honest statement would be "There is evidence that chiropractic is not useful for asthma, headaches, including migraine or infant colic."

If they do not feel they have finished their review they could say "The GCC are not currently aware of adequate evidence that chiropractic can help with, asthma, headaches, including migraine or infant colic."

Michael Kingsford Gray said...

Q: How much effort, time & cost does it take to disable or remove an illegal web page?
A: Not much, a trice, very little, respectively.

The GCC are either utterly incompetent, or outrageously duplicitous.
(I refuse to believe the only plausible the third option, that their managers are certifiable.)

Mr. Cortex said...

All this chiropractic and chinese mambo jambo stuff is way too boring. I believe that they all work in favor of natural selection by helping people that are too dumb to see that it is all quackery to die and - by dying - consume less resources that are useful to smart people.

iphone. said...

Just seen this on chiropracticlive.

"Is the GCC breaking it's own COP when they use the title Dr. on their complaints page without stipulating that the Dr's are Dr's of chiropractic? Every complaint uses the term Dr but not a mention of Doctor of Chiropractic anywhere!!!"

Ronis said...

"Hopefully they'll take my complaint seriously, clean up the regulatory body, start properly regulating the chiropractors and move towards a future of evidence-based chiropractic."

I thought all hope was lost my furry friend. some wisdom and integrity is to be found. Are you going to pay for this however? how about forking out some dough for some real research studies by top chiro's? bring something to the table of progress other than your tattle tailing intellectual
wankery.