MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

An article in PULSE entitled ‘ Revolutionising Chiropractic Care for Today’s Healthcare System’ deserves a comment, I think. Here I give you first the article followed by my comments. The references in square brackets refer to the latter and were inserted by me; otherwise, the article is unchanged.

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This Chiropractic Awareness Week (4th – 10th April), Catherine Quinn, President of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), is exploring the opportunity and need for a more integrated healthcare eco-system, putting the spotlight on how chiropractors can help alleviate pressures and support improved patient outcomes.

Chiropractic treatment and its role within today’s health system often prompts questions and some debate – what treatments fit under chiropractic care? Is the profession evidence based? How can it support primary health services, with the blend of public and private practice in mind? This Chiropractic Awareness Week, I want to address these questions and share the British Chiropractic Association’s ambition for the future of the profession.

The role of chiropractic today

The need for effective and efficient musculoskeletal (MSK) treatment is clear – in the UK, an estimated 17.8 million people live with a MSK condition, equivalent to approximately 28.9% of the total population.1 Lower back and neck pain specifically are the greatest causes of years lost to disability in the UK, with chronic joint pain or osteoarthritis affecting more than 8.75 million people.2 In addition to this, musculoskeletal conditions also account for 30% of all GP appointments, placing immense pressure on a system which is already under stress.3 The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being felt by these patients and their healthcare professionals alike. Patients with MSK conditions are still having their care impacted by issues such as having clinic appointments cancelled, difficulty in accessing face-to-face care and some unable to continue regular prescribed exercise.

With these numbers and issues in mind, there is a lot of opportunity to more closely integrate chiropractic within health and community services to help alleviate pressures on primary care [1]. This is something we’re really passionate about at the BCA. However, we recognise that there are varying perceptions of chiropractic care – not just from the public but across our health peers too. We want to address this, so every health discipline has a consistent understanding.

First and foremost, chiropractic is a registered primary healthcare profession [2] and a safe form of treatment [3], qualified individuals in this profession are working as fully regulated healthcare professionals with at least four years of Masters level training. In the UK, chiropractors are regulated by law and required to adhere to strict codes of practice [4], in exactly the same ways as dentists and doctors [5]. At the BCA we want to represent the highest quality chiropractic care, which is encapsulated by a patient centred approach, driven by evidence and science [6].

As a patient-first organisation [7], our primary goal is to equip our members to provide the best treatment possible for those who need our care [8]. We truly believe that working collaboratively with other primary care and NHS services is the way to reach this goal [9].

The benefits of collaborative healthcare

As chiropractors, we see huge potential in working more closely with primary care providers and recognise there’s mutual benefits for both parties [10]. Healthcare professionals can tap into chiropractors’ expertise in MSK conditions, leaning on them for support with patient caseloads. Equally, chiropractors can use the experience of working with other healthcare experts to grow as professionals.

At the BCA, our aim is to grow this collaborative approach, working closely with the wider health community to offer patients the best level of care that we can [11]. Looking at primary healthcare services in the UK, we understand the pressures that individual professionals, workforces, and organisations face [12]. We see the large patient rosters and longer waiting times and truly believe that chiropractors can alleviate some of those stresses by treating those with MSK concerns [13].

One way the industry is beginning to work in a more integrated way is through First Contact Practitioners (FCPs) [14]. These are healthcare professionals like chiropractors who provide the first point of contact to GP patients with MSK conditions [15]. We’ve already seen a lot of evidence showing that primary care services using FCPs have been able to improve quality of care [16]. Through this service MSK patients are also seeing much shorter wait times for treatment (as little as 2-3 days), so the benefits speak for themselves for both the patient and GP [17].

By working as part of an integrated care model, with chiropractors, GPs, physiotherapists and other medical professionals, we’re creating a system that provides patients with direct routes to the treatments that they need, with greater choice. Our role within this system is very much to contribute to the health of our country, support primary care workers and reinforce the incredible work of the NHS [18].

Overcoming integrated healthcare challenges

To continue to see the chiropractic sector develop over the coming years, it’s important for us to face some of the challenges currently impacting progress towards a more integrated healthcare service.

One example is that there is a level of uncertainty about where chiropractic sits in the public/private blend. This is something we’re ready to tackle head on by showing exactly how chiropractic care benefits different individuals, whether that’s through reducing pain, improving physical function or increasing mobility [19]. We also need to encourage more awareness amongst both chiropractors and other healthcare providers about how an integrated workforce could benefit medical professionals and patients alike [20]. For example, there’s only two FCP chiropractors to date, and that’s something we’re looking to change [14].

This is the start of a much bigger conversation and, at the BCA, we’ll continue to work on driving peer acceptance, trust and inclusion to demonstrate the value of our place within the healthcare industry [21]. We’re ready to support the wider health community and primary carers, alleviating some of the pressures already facing the NHS; we’re placed in the perfect position as we have the knowledge and experience to provide essential support [22]. My main takeaway from this year’s Chiropractic Awareness Week would be to simply start a conversation with us about how [23].

 

About the British Chiropractic Association:

The BCA is the largest and longest-standing association for chiropractors in the UK. As well as promoting international standards of education and exemplary conduct, the BCA supports chiropractors to progress and develop to fulfil their professional ambitions with honour and integrity, at every step [24]. This Chiropractic Awareness Week, the BCA is raising awareness about the rigour, relevance and evidence driving the profession and the association’s ambition for chiropractic to be more closely embedded within mainstream healthcare [25].

 

  1. https://bjgp.org/content/70/suppl_1/bjgp20X711497
  2. https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/data-and-statistics/the-state-of-musculoskeletal-health/
  3. https://www.england.nhs.uk/elective-care-transformation/best-practice-solutions/musculoskeletal/#:~:text=Musculoskeletal%20(MSK)%20conditions%20account%20for,million%20people%20in%20the%20UK

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And here are my comments:

  1. Non sequitur = a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.
  2. A primary healthcare profession is a profession providing primary healthcare which, according to standard definitions, is the provision of health services, including diagnosis and treatment of a health condition, and support in managing long-term healthcare, including chronic conditions like diabetes. Thus chiropractors are not in that category.
  3. This is just wishful thinking. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is not safe!
  4. “Required to adhere to strict codes of practice”. Required yes, but how often do they not comply?
  5. This is not true.
  6. Chiropractic is very far from being “driven by evidence and science”.
  7. Platitude = a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
  8. Judging from past experience, the primary goal seems to be to protect chiropractors (see, for instance, here).
  9. Belief is for religion, in healthcare you need evidence. Have you looked at the referral rates of chiropractors to GPs, for instance?
  10. For chiropractors, the benefit is usually measured in £s.
  11. To offer the ” best level of care” you need research and evidence, not politically correct statements.
  12. Platitude = a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
  13. Belief is for religion, in healthcare you need evidence.
  14. First Contact Practitioners are “regulated, advanced and autonomous health CARE PROFESSIONALS who are trained to provide expert PATIENT assessment, diagnosis and first-line treatment, self-care advice and, if required, appropriate onward referral to other SERVICES.” I doubt that many chiropractors fulfill these criteria.
  15. Not quite; see above.
  16. “A lot of evidence”? Really? Where is it?
  17.  “The benefits speak for themselves” only if the treatments used are evidence-based.
  18. Platitude = a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
  19. Where is the evidence?
  20. Awareness is not needed as much as evidence?
  21. Platitude = a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
  22. Platitude = a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
  23. Fine, let’s start the conversation: where is your evidence?
  24. Judging from past experience honor and integrity seem rather thin on the ground (see, for instance here).

The article promised to ‘revolutionize chiropractic care and to answer questions like what treatments fit under chiropractic care? Is the profession evidence-based? Sadly, none of this emerged. Instead, we were offered politically correct platitudes, half-truths, and obscurations.

The revolution in chiropractic, it thus seems, is not in sight.

21 Responses to “Revolutionising Chiropractic Care for Today’s Healthcare System”

  • How about an article “Revolutionising Phrenology for Today’s Psychiatry”……

  • The BCA’s approach seems to be one of placing their members in the primary health care “market” with a view to growing income. Perhaps the C stands for cynical?

  • You are arguing an old argument with old unsubstantiated claims… meanwhile, more and more hospitals throughout the EU and North America have DCs on their staff and people learn to work together with no EGO and POLITICS for the benefits of the PATIENTS!!!

    Instead of criticizing it, I suggest you go and see for yourself how it works… maybe you will give the ax grinder a rest

    happy Passover

    • oh dear, oh dear!
      you really think I haven’t seen how it works?
      “more hospitals throughout the EU and North America have DCs on their staff”
      you are arguing with pure wishful thinking!
      HAPPY PASSOVER TO YOU TOO

    • Here’s the thing about unsubstantiated claims, as you call them. There can be no expectation to prove that something isn’t happening.

      Have two claims from me for free:
      1. SCAM does not work.
      Which may be paralled by
      2. God does not exist.

      This is not an unsubstantiated claim because I’m not claiming anything. I’m claiming these things are not so so I’m not feeling any need to prove it.

      If you say any SCAM does work actually that is an unsubstantiated claim and the onus is on you to prove it. The repeated posts here are about ongoing failed attempts to produce evidence for it.

      If you don’t get this it merely proves that you don’t understand the nature of proof and that you are arguing from an assumption (or belief, as paralleled by religious belief) that a SCAM works and expecting other people who do not share your assumption to disprove it. The onus is on you to prove it, not on the unbeliever to disprove it.

    • Ah, yes: the insidious creeps of quackery!

  • “One way the industry is beginning to work in a more integrated way is through First Contact Practitioners (FCPs) [14]. These are healthcare professionals like chiropractors who provide the first point of contact to GP patients with MSK conditions [15].”

    Yup. Chiropractic is an industry, not a profession.
    ‘Twas ever thus.

    “By working as part of an integrated care model, with chiropractors, GPs, physiotherapists and other medical professionals, we’re creating a system that provides patients with direct routes to the treatments that they need, with greater choice.”

    Which begs the question: “If you chiropractors (e.g. Mr Almog) wanted to work in a health system which involves physiotherapists and doctors, why did you not study, train and qualify as a physiotherapist or doctor – or osteopath?

    What was the USP of chiropractic which attracted you?
    Do you really believe there are subluxations which, if ‘adjusted’ can release ‘innate intelligence’ and deal with pathology?
    Or was ‘chiropractic’ the only course you could get onto?”

  • revolutionize:
    to completely change something so that it is much better (Cambridge)

    She laid out the goal. Ernst laid out some of the issues that need to be dealt with in order to achieve that goal. Fair enough.

  • Chiropractors are NOT FCP . They are explicitly excluded from this NHS initiative.

    • interesting!
      do you have a link to this?

      • I was a lived experience partner when they set it up
        I can private message you the details of who.led the initiative and she and I discussed chiropractic and it is explicitly not part of FCP

      • The article claims First Contact Practitioners are: “healthcare professionals like chiropractors who provide the first point of contact to GP patients with MSK conditions.”

        Does this sentence even make sense?
        What is a “GP patient”?
        A patient who wants to see a GP about a problem?

        Are chiros seeking to be regarded as GPs?
        Surely not! (He laughs.)
        What does the RCGP say on this issue?

        Or is that a typo for “…first point of contact for GP’s patients with MSK conditions”?
        But who diagnoses that the problem is ‘MSK’ and not something else?
        This is why we have GPs and why they are styled ‘General practitioners’ – and why it is GPs who are FPCs.

        Are not chiropractors highly likely to identify a MSK condition in any patient they see?
        Was Miss Mandy Rice-Davies a chiropractor?
        (Stephen Ward was an ostepoath. Google it if you’re too young to remember the case.)

        It is precisely because the chiropractic community cannot clearly articulate what is the USP of their ‘industry’ is nor why their practitioners became ‘chiropractors’ in the first place, that they stand accused of a lack of professional integrity.
        And that makes it hard to have constructive professional relationaships with them.
        Sigh.

  • You all do understand that you’re basically criticizing the BCA for wanting to do what you say needs to be done. Strange. Well, not really. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

  • You just want chiropractic to muscle in and take advantage of MSK patients. NHS does not refer patients to chiropractic in UK AND hopefully never will again

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