I recently emailed the GCC to ask for clarification on a point that relates to my correspondence with Bassett Chiropractic Clinics, of St Albans Chiropractic Clinic, The Hertford Chiropractic Clinic, Watford Chiropractic Clinic, and Kings Langley Chiropractic Clinic (Bassett Chiropractic Clinics are members of the British Chiropractic Association – the organisation suing Simon Singh, who co-authored the excellent Trick or Treatment with Edzard Ernst). I have now made a formal complaint, the text of which follows:
As the GCC are unable to answer my query, I have instead decided to make a formal complaint about Bassett Chiropractic Clinics. I believe that they are in breach of the GCC’s Code of Practice and Standard of Proficiency (section C1.6). Given that the Advertising Standards Authority have previously ruled against another clinic for advertising chiropractic for whiplash, I consider XXX’s “Bassett Chiropractic Clinic” website, which claims that whiplash is one of the conditions that their chiropractors can help with, to be publicising Mr XXX’s clinics (St Albans Chiropractic Clinic, The Hertford Chiropractic Clinic, Watford Chiropractic Clinic, and Kings Langley Chiropractic Clinic) in a manner that is inconsistent with guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority.
I wonder how the BCA’s membership feels about their association’s decision to sue Simon Singh.
It feels perhaps a little harsh to make a formal complaint about someone in this way, but I did give the owner of the Bassett Chiropractic Clinics website the opportunity to engage with me – which he failed to take – and I asked the GCC to answer a perfectly reasonable question, which they failed to answer. Perhaps if Bassett Chiropractic Clinics had been willing to discuss their claims instead of cutting short our correspondence or the GCC had been prepared to clarify their own Code of Practice in order that I might inform BCC of their clarification this complaint wouldn’t have been made. If people are going to make medical claims, refuse to engage with critics of these claims, and resort to the law courts in order to silence their more prominent critics then they could be said to have brought this kind of activism upon themselves.
EDIT 13th June: My single complaint to the GCC is a mere token gesture in comparison to the work of the authors of Adventures in Nonsense and Zeno’s blog. The former has reported approximately 500 chiropractors at 174 practices and the latter has made 523 complaints to the General Chiropractic Council. As Zeno writes, “it’s a pity that it has taken unpaid, but concerned bloggers to make happen what the GCC should never have allowed to happen in the first place”.