Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Dr Lucy Vickers - colic miracle worker
Chiropractors who claim to treat colic used to be a dime a dozen.
These days they're an endangered species - at least in the UK - but a few brave souls continue to wave the flag for this quack therapy for which, in the case of colic, there still isn't a jot of evidence.
The blurry photo above is Dr Lucy Vickers (or maybe Alison Vickers).
Lucy (or Alison) works out the Hale Clinic in London, from where she claims she can treat colic, whiplash and repetitive strain injury (among other things).
The Clinic advertises just about every quack therapy I've ever heard of, but if this complaint to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is successful, they might have to rethink their marketing a little.
I write to make a formal complaint about Lucy Vickers, aka Alison Vickers, a GCC-registered Chiropractor (Reg. no. 01247) who is employed by the Hale Clinic in Marylebone, London.
The essence of my complaint is that two websites advertising the services of Ms Vickers may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice (2005) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code.
1. Ms Vickers advertises her services on at least two websites. The first, www.halemusculoskeletal.com, forms a part of the Hale Clinic's own group of websites. This website gives Ms Vickers name as "Lucy Vickers"; I will proceed under the assumption this is the same person as Alison Vickers, who according to the GCC's register, is the only registered chiropractor working at the Hale Clinic.
2. The first website contains  the following text:
"Common ailments that chiropractic treatment can effectively treat are: Neck pain Back pain Frozen shoulder Hip problems Knee pain Tennis elbow Foot and ankle pain Painful periods Repetitive strain injury (RSI) Arm pain/pins and needles Headaches/Migraine Sciatica Infantile colic Sports injuries Whiplash"
3. The second website, www.chiropractorcentrallondon.co.uk, is registered  to Ms Vickers personally.
4. The second website contains  the following text:
"Do you suffer from: # Neck pain # Back pain # Frozen shoulder # Hip problems # Knee pain # Tennis elbow # Foot and ankle pain # Painful periods # Repetitive strain injury (RSI) # Arm pain/pins and needles # Headaches/Migraine # Sciatica # Sports injuries # Whiplash ... In fact pain anywhere is the bodys [sic] way of telling you there is something wrong. Most aches and pains are due to structural problems that can be helped....Chiropractic may well be the answer!"
5. The GCC's "Code of Practice (2005)", Section C1.6, states:
"[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. If chiropractors, or others on their behalf, do publicise, the information used must be factual and verifiable. The information must not be misleading or inaccurate in any way. It must not, in any way, abuse the trust of members of the public nor exploit their lack of experience or knowledge about either health or chiropractic matters..."
6. The ASA's CAP Code, Section 7.1, states:
"No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."
7. Section 6.1 states:
"Marketers should not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers."
8. Section 3.1 states:
"Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."
9. Section 50.1 states:
"Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people... Substantiation will be assessed by the ASA on the basis of the available scientific knowledge."
10. CAP's Copy Advice website  lists a number of conditions to which it accepts chiropractors may refer. However, a number of conditions which Ms Vickers claims to treat are not on that list. Specifically, they are:
(i) Period pains
(ii) Repetitive strain injury
(v) Infantile colic
12. The 2010 "Bronfort Report" , commissioned by the GCC to "provide a succinct but comprehensive summary of the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of manual treatment for the management of a variety of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions", deals with the above conditions thus:
(i) Period pains: "Moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation is no more effective than sham manipulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea [period pains]"
(ii) Repetitive strain injury: not mentioned
(iii) Headaches: "Inconclusive evidence in a favorable direction regarding mobilization for post-traumatic headache"
(iv) Sciatica: "Inconclusive evidence"
(v) Infantile colic "Moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation is no more effective than sham spinal manipulation for the treatment of infantile colic"
(vi) Whiplash: "Moderate quality evidence that mobilization [physiotherapy] combined with exercise is effective for acute whiplash associated disorders", but spinal manipulation is only mentioned with regards to non-specific neck pain (a separate condition)
13. I complain that Ms Vickers may be in breach of the ASA's CAP Code, Sections 3.1, 6.1, 7.1 and 50.1, in that:
(i) given the ASA's Copy Advice website and the Bronfort Report, Ms Vickers is unlikely to hold sufficient documentary evidence to support her claim that she can treat period pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches, sciatica, infantile colic and whiplash with chiropractic (3.1 & 50.1),
(ii) Ms Vickers may be misleading consumers by claiming to treat period pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches, sciatica, infantile colic and whiplash with chiropractic (7.1),
(iii) Ms Vickers may be exploiting the "credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers" by claiming to treat period pains, repetitive strain injury, headaches, sciatica, infantile colic and whiplash with chiropractic (6.1).
14. As a a consequence, I further complain that Ms Vickers may be in breach of the GCC's Code of Practice, Section C1.6.
15. If, in fact, Lucy Vickers and Alison Vickers are two different people, then my complaint of paragraphs 13 and 14 does not apply; instead I would complain that Lucy Vickers is performing chiropractic treatments on patients without being registered with the GCC.
16. Since I have never met Ms Vickers, I waive my right, under the Investigating Committee Rules (2000), to make a statement of evidence. I do not consider the additional costs the GCC would incur, were I to consult their solicitor, would contribute any evidence of value to my complaint.