Struck-off chiropractor still working as ‘spine specialist’

Published: 2011-12-13 18:03:17
Author: Melanie Newman | Bureau of Investigative Journalism | November 14, 2011

A chiropractor struck off by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) in 2009 is continuing to practise as a ‘spine specialist’, in a case that has raised serious concerns about a loophole that could be putting patients at risk.

The case illustrates how a practitioner struck off by a professional regulator can continue working simply by changing the description of his or her job.

Dr Simon Peck, head of investigations and medical advice at AXA PPP, said: ‘It is bad enough that practitioners continue to see patients after they are supposed to have been stopped from doing so. It is even worse that the current system simply moves them from a regulated environment to an unregulated one.’

Christian Farthing, who practices from the Ideal Spine Centre at the Canterbury Health Practice, was suspended by the GCC in 2003.

He had exerted ’undue influence’ on patients, by ‘exaggerating the consequences of failing to have regular chiropractic care’ in an attempt to ‘reinforce the need to attend a lengthy course of treatment’, the GCC said.

The regulator also found he had X-rayed patients without clinical justification. Mr Farthing told the Bureau he had actually asked the GCC to remove him from the register in 2003, but the GCC refused.

The GCC’s finding on the X-rays was due to the body’s interpretation of the law, he added. Authorities that regulate the use of X-rays inspected the Centre in 2004 and 2011 and found it compliant with the relevant laws.

But Mr Farthing was struck off in 2009 after continuing to advertise himself as a chiropractor while suspended – behaviour which was ‘fundamentally incompatible with continuing to be a registered chiropractor,’ the GCC’s professional conduct committee said.

Regulating private healthcare

The Ideal Spine Centre currently advertises spinal care as a means of treating allergies and asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Yet GCC guidance says patients should be advised against spinal manipulation as a treatment for asthma.

One local GP also told the Bureau patients of Mr Farthing had recently complained to him of being given a ‘hard sell’ – which Mr Farthing denies.

As Mr Farthing has been struck off by the GCC, the body no longer has any power over his activities.

Full story