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Royal Charter for chiropractors angers critics

Critics of complementary and alternative medicine have condemned the Privy Council's decision to award a Royal Charter to chiropractors' professional body.

According to the website of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), the College of Chiropractors was granted the charter by the Queen last week, following a meeting of the Privy Council.

The 13-year-old college is a professional membership body modelled on the existing medical royal colleges. It oversees the delivery on chiropractic treatments in the UK, which most famously involve the treatment of lower back pain by manipulation of the spine.

The college is the first complementary medicine organisation to receive a Royal Charter. According to the BCA article, the charter signals the "permanence and stability and, in the College of Chiropractors' case, a clear indication to others of the leadership value and innovative approach the college brings to the development of the chiropractic profession".

But Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, described the awarding of the charter as "a serious mistake which debases the [royal] title as carried by all the other royal colleges".

Professor Ernst co-wrote a 2008 book with science writer Simon Singh, the promotion of which saw Mr Singh unsuccessfully sued for libel by the BCA after he claimed in a newspaper article that chiropractic treatments for infant conditions such as asthma were "bogus" and were "happily" promoted by the association.

David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London, described the awarding of the Royal Charter as "a bad day for reason".

"I can only presume that it happened because of deep scientific illiteracy in Department of Health, compound by equal illiteracy in the Privy Council," he said.

But he doubted it would encourage more patients to pay for chiropractic treatments. Referring to the Prince of Wales' support for homeopathy, he said: "The description 'royal' is associated with bad medical advice already. If I want advice on the winner of the 2.30 at Sandown I might ask a royal. If I were ill I'd ask a doctor."

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

Readers' comments (3)

  • Paul Jump wrote: “It [the College of Chiropractors] oversees the delivery on chiropractic treatments in the UK, which most famously involve the treatment of lower back pain by manipulation of the spine.” And even then - according to the most recent Cochrane Review on spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain - high quality evidence suggests that there is no clinically relevant difference between SMT and other (cheaper, safer and more convenient) interventions for reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic low-back pain. As a consequence, some might ask what the real point of the College is, especially when chiropractic is so mired in quackery: http://www.dcscience.net/?p=1516

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  • Paul Jump wrote: “According to the BCA article, the charter signals the "permanence and stability and, in the College of Chiropractors' case, a clear indication to others of the leadership value and innovative approach the college brings to the development of the chiropractic profession".” Stability in chiropractic doesn’t exist. It’s no secret that the profession is consumed by in-fighting - and not least in the UK. Readers should be made aware of the lobby group, the Alliance of UK Chiropractors (AUKC), which has a combined membership of several hundred chiropractors, most of whom are existing members of either the McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA), the United Chiropractic Association (UCA), or the Scottish Chiropractic Association (SCA). Although the AUKC's members are all regulated by the General Chiropractic Council, the group has, alarmingly, adopted the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) Best Practices documentation which, among other policies, supports 27 indications for chiropractic radiography including (mythical) spinal subluxation, birth trauma, facial pain, skin diseases, organ dysfunction, eye and vision problems, and hearing disorders, and recommends a basic care plan for simple uncomplicated axial pain (neck pain, back pain, etc) consisting of 25 visits over 8 weeks – with the presence of ‘complicating factors’ (including family/relationship stress, lower wage employment, and wearing high-heeled shoes) warranting a recommended additional 12-visit blocks of care. What’s particularly interesting about that is that the already discredited British Chiropractic Association (BCA) is against it: Quote “The BCA deplores the ICA recommendations for chiropractic radiography, which it regards as potentially illegal in the UK. It reminds all BCA chiropractors that strict regulations exist in Europe which govern the use of ionising radiation. Both IRR99 and the IR(ME)R regulations are applicable and chiropractors using, operating, referring or employing those involved in x-ray must be familiar with them. The BCA…does not consider a basic 25-visit course of care for uncomplicated back pain to be in the best interests of patients; to the contrary, such practices may invite allegations of patient exploitation…BCA chiropractors, most of whom are UK educated, should not be subjected to US guidelines that are fundamentally incompatible with European law, nor that make recommendations for care that dictate extensive care plans on the basis of flimsy complicating factors." Ref: http://en-gb.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=153048378097052 Basically, all of the above suggests that in the 13 years of the College of Chiropractors' existence, the professional ethics of many chiropractors in the UK have not seen any improvement. Indeed, not much seems to have changed since statutory regulation came into force… Quote “In spite of strong mutual suspicion and distrust, the profession united under a group formed specifically to pursue regulation and secured the Chiropractors Act (1994)…..Regulation for a new profession will literally ‘legitimise it’, establishing its members within the community, making them feel more valued. In turn, this brings greater opportunity for more clients and a healthier bank balance.” Ref: Michael C. Copland-Griffiths, former Chairman of the General Chiropractic Council (European Journal of Oriental Medicine, Vol.2 No.6, 2004) http://tinyurl.com/c4nabne

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  • All is not what it seems... A right Royal chiro cock-up: http://www.zenosblog.com/2012/11/a-right-royal-chiro-cock-up/

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