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The UK regulatory body, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), frequently expresses the view that those involved in National Health Service (NHS) healthcare commissioning should fund chiropractic care. The following links may be helpful to NHS healthcare commissioners, and others, in reaching an informed decision regarding chiropractic in the UK. NOTE: Section S3.2 of the GCC's Code of Practice and Standard of Proficiency (effective from 30th June 2010) requires that the care selected and provided by chiropractors ""must be informed by the best available evidence"" and minimise risks to the patient.
According to the GCC's Fitness To Practise Report (2007) all chiropractors must ensure that all the information they provide, or authorise others to provide on their behalf, is factual and verifiable, is not misleading or inaccurate in any way, does not abuse the trust of members of the public in any way, nor exploit their lack of experience or knowledge about either health or chiropractic matters, and does not put pressure on people to use chiropractic, for example by arousing ill-founded fear for their future health or suggesting that chiropractic can cure serious disease.
During 2008-2010 the British Chiropractic Association attempted to sue the well-known science writer Simon Singh for libel regarding the content of an article he wrote for the Guardian newspaper. Follow how the events unfolded via this link to the James Randi Educational Foundation. [Includes the full text of the original article.]
A critical look at the British randomised clinical trial: Meade TW, Dyer S et al 1990. Low Back Pain of Mechanical Origin. Randomised Comparison of Chiropractic and Hospital Outpatient Treatment, BMJ 300: 1431-37; and the follow up study: Meade T W, Dyer S et al 1995. Randomised Comparison of Chiropractic and Hospital Outpatients Management for Low Back Pain Results from Extended Follow Up, BMJ 311: 349-351. Also contains critical comment on the UK BEAM trial 2004, and others.
NOTE: Chiropractors often cite these studies as proof that chiropractic is "effective, cost-effective, and safe".
"If chiropractors are to provide a safe clinical experience for patients then a reporting procedure needs to be put in place, within the clinics and within the profession as a whole, which allows for adverse events and near misses to be shared on an anonymised basis so that we can all learn from them." Quoted from Item 7 of the Minutes of the GCC's 2nd March 2006 meeting [pdf]
NOTE: June 2009. There does not appear to be a widely publicised, efficient reporting system in place for UK chiropractors and their patients.
Satirical look at the British Chiropractic Association v. Simon Singh libel case by Crispian Jago. (19th December 2009)
The General Chiropractic Council is allegedly continuing to mislead the very patients it is meant to protect. Adventures in Nonsense blogspot (10th October 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." Article by Professor Edzard Ernst, Journal of Health Services Research & Policy (3rd July 2009)
"This is an invitation to all UK chiropractors to stop the confusions, misunderstandings and animosities that arose during the recent debate about the effectiveness of chiropractic for non-spinal conditions such as asthma and otitis. I herewith invite all of you to state clearly where you stand." Edzard Ernst, New Scientist (25th 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." Article by Professor David Colquhoun, DC Science (17th June 2009)
"I googled 'Chiropractic Clinics UK' (31/7/2008) and evaluated the contents of the first 10 websites of individual chiropractic clinics listed. My aim was to find out whether chiropractors adhered to their own ethical code…..[The findings] suggest that many chiropractors violate their own ethical code." Professor Edzard Ernst, New Zealand Medical Journal (5th September 2008) [pdf]
"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?" Professor David Colquhoun, New Zealand Medical Journal (5th September 2008)
"The Government should be warned by the case of chiropractors about the dangers of granting official recognition before the evidence is available. The General Chiropractic Council already has a status similar to that of the General Medical Council, despite it being based on the quasi-religious idea of "subluxations" that nobody can see or define. Recent research has shown it to be no more effective, and less safe, than conventional treatments that are much cheaper." Professor David Colquhoun, The Times (29th August 2008)
Includes a close look at the McTimoney College of Chiropractic: "One of the recurrent criticisms of chiropractic is that it is founded in mystical ideas and has a very poor evidence base for the efficacy of any of its treatments…..[The philosophy of McTimoney] looks like pretty fundamental chiropractic with their mysterious and unproven 'subluxations' being the cause of illness — and not just bad backs, but the health of all 'cells and organs'. The college appears to adopt this worldview." The Quackometer (28th August 2008)