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

Thursday 19 November 2009

The GCC Is Avoiding FOIA Requests

On the 6th October 2009, I sent two Freedom of Information Act Inquiries to the General Chiropractic Council. At this point in time, the GCC had just finished its resolution with the Adverting Standards Agency and as a result of this it became known to me that the GCC had commissioned a review of the evidence for the use of chiropractic in the treatment of various diseases that were not related to the spine.

The first request asked them to hand over all communications between the GCC and the ASA.

My second request simply asked:
  • Has the GCC commissioned a review of evidence concerning the effectiveness of chiropractic in the treatment of colic or other diseases?
  • If so, please provide me with copies of all communications surrounding the commissioning of this review.
  • Please provide the final specification detailing how the review is to be performed.
The GCC’s previous behaviour, and especially their response to questions from Trading Standards officers, has clearly demonstrated that they are not interested in regulating the profession of chiropractic, but instead of protecting the interest of practitioners.

I was obviously interested in how they were planning to perform this review, for instance had they agreed the criteria for inclusion and perhaps more interestingly if there had been an attempt to sway the outcome of the trial during the commissioning phase.

I received a reply from Paul Ghuman the next day confirming receipt and asking me to confirm if my request for communications between the GCC and the ASA related to my complaint made about the GCC’s Patient Information Leaflet. I quickly clarified that this was the case.

It took until the 2nd November until I received a response. They were more than happy to respond to the first request, but the second was completely avoided. They acknowledged that they had commissioned a review, but gave no details.
2. Please note that the current request needs to be defined more clearly in the respect of the information required. For example, it could be that the request is for who approved/agreed the final specification or who made the decision on reviewers. I need more clarification in respect of what information it is that is being requested.
Now they could have asked for this on the 7th October when they responded to my first FOIA request. Why did they wait until the 2nd November to ask this question? If I am not being clear enough, that should be obvious enough from the first time they tried to find the information.

I replied to clarify:
To clarify on (2), I assume the GCC has outsourced the evidence review to a scientist, group of scientists, research group or elsewhere. I also assume that in order to find a supplier for the research you may have contacted several organisations/people.

I am looking for copies of all communications to and from those organisations/people that are relevant to the review - both those that were commissioned and those that were considered.
Is that clear? Any questions just ask.
Since I replied, now 2½ weeks ago, I have emailed Paul Ghuman to chase up, phoned him twice and left a message and emailed Margaret Coats.

No response.

The GCC is acting very much like they’ve got something to hide.


Colin said...

...or possibly they've got nothing and want to hide it...?

lothian said...

As I understand it they have 20 days to provide the info including any clarification of the request. They can after 20 days refuse the request if it is too general and therefore would take too long. Another 20 days would then start from the date of the revised request. That does not appear to be the case here, so they appear to be in breach of the act. I am not fully sure of the complains procedure I think you go straight to the information commissioner, who can issue an enforcement notice. See sections 45 - 56 of the act.

Blue Wode said...

There seems to be a very clear picture emerging about the GCC…

September 2008:
“Both the New Zealand and the UK governments have got themselves into an impossible position by giving official recognition to chiropractic before the evidence was in. Since the conventional manipulative treatments are cheaper, and may well be safer, and because they involve no quasi-religious ideas like ‘subluxation’ or ‘innate intelligence’, the only reasonable conclusion is that there is no need for chiropractic to exist at all. They do nothing they do that would not be done as well by medical practitioners and physiotherapists. What will governments do about that, I wonder?”

June 2009:
“Peter Dixon, chair of the General Chiropractic Council, seems to be a bit careless about evidence.”

June 2009:
“In quangos like the GCC, complaints don’t necessarily get considered at all. First they go to an investigating committee (IC) which has to decide if there is a ‘case to answer’. Now the GCC wants that criterion to be changed to ‘realistic prospect of success’. Given the GCC’s attitude to evidence it is hard to imagine that any complaint will have a ‘realistic prospect of success’...The attitude of the GCC to evidence is amply illustrated by the fact that they have said that the rather crude myths known as craniosacral therapy and applied kinesiology fall within their definition of evidence-based care. Any organisation that can say that is clearly incompetent.”

July 2009:
“Since 1994 chiropractic has been regulated by statute in the UK. Despite this air of respectability, a range of important problems continue to bedevil this profession. Professional organizations of chiropractic and their members make numerous claims which are not supported by sound evidence. Many chiropractors adhere to concepts which fly in the face of science and most seem to regularly violate important principles of ethical behaviour. The advice chiropractors give to their clients is often dangerously misleading. If chiropractic in the UK is to grow into an established health care profession, the General Chiropractic Council and its members should comply with the accepted standards of today's health care.”

September 2009:
“I received the GCC's response to my Freedom of Information Act Inquiry yesterday evening. The GCC avoided responding to almost every point. You can read the full text of their response here.”

November 2009:
I recently submitted complaints to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) against 524 of their statutorily registered chiropractors. Although it is not appropriate to discuss the details of these ongoing cases here, it is abundantly clear that the statutory regulation of chiropractors has not been fit for purpose. Whilst it is true that ensuring that registered chiropractors have appropriate public liability insurance; have had some kind of training; that there is a Code of Practice in place (against which their behaviour can be judged and, if necessary, sanctions applied), is important, it is clear that this statutory regulation has spectacularly failed in the most fundamental of areas: that of protecting the public from bogus claims.

Evidently, the regulation of chiropractors has been premature.

Anonymous said...

I am a chiropractor and I can tell you very definetly that the GCC is not protecting chiropractors. It never has. It has done nothing but waste money and split the profession. I'am very happy to see the GCC under the same kind of pressure it has needlessly and with malice(aka Gregg Price)put the chiropractic profession under.
Keep up the good work!

davidp said...

Any news on your GCC complaints ? They should have made some progress by mow based on what they said when they delayed in July.

Simon said...

@DavidP Nothing seems to have happened for a while, I expect they're waiting for the evidence review they've commissioned.