Saturday, 23 May 2009

Victoria Chiropractic Clinic, Woking, may break GCC rules

As shown before, the BCA's libel action against Simon Singh is causing a significant Streisand effect, drawing attention to dodgy claims made by chiropractors and their representative organisations in the UK.

It didn't take much googling to find a relatively local chiropractor making dodgy claims, and I now present to you... Victoria Chiropractic Clinic, Woking, Surrey, run by "Dr" Jeremy Spanton and Dr (PhD only) Nichola Worril.

So, what are the claims they are making, and how to they breach General Chiropractic Council regulations?

Use of the "Dr" title

It should be made clear that in the UK "Dr" is not a protected title. Anyone can call themselves a doctor if they wish, however certain organisations take a dim view of doing so misleadingly, including the GCC and the Advertising Standards Agency.

GCC guidelines, to which Spanton and Worril, as members, are bound, state that chiropractors:

must not use any title or qualification in such a way that the public may be misled as to its meaning or significance. In particular, chiropractors who use the title of ‘doctor’ and who are not registered medical practitioners must ensure that they make it clear that they are registered chiropractors and not registered medical practitioners

Whilst their website does indicate that Worril has a PhD (though it's not clear in what), there is no such explanation of Jeremy Spanton's title. Searching the General Medical Council's register brings up no results for a Dr Spanton. It is therefore likely that Spanton is using the term misleadingly. An email asking the clinic to confirm his qualifications has not been replied to in three days. The GCC will therefore be recieving a complaint about this claim.

Claims that chiropractic can help with conditions with no supporting evidence

Victoria Clinic's website has a page about what they can treat. Rather disturbingly they recommend chiropractic checks of children along the same lines as dental, hearing, eyesight checks etc. They seem to play the guilt card somewhat by claiming that:

Without Chiropractic care some children will live in continued sickness, condemned to a life of taking medicines and perhaps even surgery.

Whilst this is distasteful, the key part of this page which breaks GCC guidelines is the following:

Chiropractic care has been beneficial in a wide range of child-hood ailments, including:

ADHD, Asthma, Bedwetting, Colic, Poor posture, Allergies

The claim about Colic is one that cannot be justified. Again, I have emailed the clinic asking for evidence for this claim, but with no response. Victoria Chiropractic is not the only clinic to make such claims. In fact, a chiropractor named Carl Irwin recently made similar claims, which were investigated by the ASA. The full adjudication is available here, and the relevant extract quoted below:

We considered that, whilst some of the studies indicated that further research was worth pursuing, in particular in relation to the chiropractic relief of colic, we had not seen robust clinical evidence to support the claim that chiropractic could treat IBS, colic and learning difficulties.

This is important for all chiropractors, as the GCC require that chiropractors:

may publicise their practices or permit another person to do so consistent with the law and the guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority.

By claiming that chiropractic is beneficial for colic Victoria Chiropractic is not being consistent with ASA regulations and guidance, and as such may be breaking GCC guidelines.

A complaint will be made to the GCC about Victoria Chiropractic, who rather disappointingly have not responded to my concerns put to them by email.

Victoria Chiropractic certainly aren't the first to be making such claims. There are many more out there, and I, along with other bloggers, will be investigating these and making further complaints to the GCC until they start cleaning up their act and taking their own guidelines more seriously.

For more blogs on chiropractic claims, visit:


  1. Fantastic! Keep up the pressure.

  2. quite agree.. if you are lucky enough you can find a real chiropractor.. but there are those who are quack and can do harm.. gotta go to whom who are proven and safe..