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

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Woman taking homeopathic medicine

Alternative treatments in healthcare plan is latest in a series of homeopathy-related controversies

  • Man lying beneath rugby pile-up

Six academics share their experiences before delivering a verdict on the system

  • Zygmunt Bauman with hand over mouth

Eminent sociologist has recycled 90,000 words of material across a dozen books, claims paper

  • Foot about to step on banana peel

Kevin Haggerty and Aaron Doyle offer tips on making postgraduate study even tougher (which students could also use to avoid pitfalls if they prefer)

  • Sorana Vieru, National Union of Students

Sorana Vieru says exams and essays 'privilege' more advantaged students, calls for changes to 'Middle Ages' format