Moving the goalposts (Part One)

In yet another leaked letter (UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES BRIEFING NOTE FOR CHIROPRACTIC PROFESSIONAL ORGANISATIONS 15 JUNE 2009) from the GCC, they want the Privy Council Office to expedite something called a ‘section 60 Order’:

2 GCC action to date
2.1 Legislative change.

The Privy Council Office has been asked to expedite a section 60 Order to achieve the following changes that GCC identified some time ago for inclusion in an anticipated portmanteau Order spanning necessary changes for all the healthcare regulators

  • raising the referral threshold for the IC from ‘case to answer’ to ‘realistic prospect of success’
  • providing powers for the consensual disposal of complaints by the IC in cases where referral to the PCC is not required in the public interest.

Now, what are they up to?

The more cynical of bloggers (you know who you are!) have been suggesting that this is a ploy to completely dismiss the complaints made by myself and others.

The inimitable Professor David Colquhoun blogged about this earlier today: The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) wants to waive the rules.

He concludes:

Now the GCC wants that criterion to be changed ‘realistic prospect of success’. Given the GCC’s attitude to evidence it is hard to imagine that any complaint will have a ‘realistic prospect of success’.

The second idea is even more grotesque. The GCC want to be able to dismiss without consideration rafts of complaints where in their opinion, referral to the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) ‘is not required in the public interest. Or, more likely, not required in the interests of the GCC.

Since it’s not clear exactly what they are up to, I asked Margaret Coats:


I understand that you have asked the Privy Council Office to expedite a ‘section 60 Order’.

Can you please tell me:

1. what this ‘section 60 order’ is
2. the purpose of this request
3. the reasoning behind this request
4. the full details of this request
5. the changes this request will bring about if granted
6. the impact on my complaints.


She replied:

Thank you for your enquiry. In responding to your specific questions, I will need to provide some considerable detail about the historical context, including the role of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence in promoting best practice in the regulation of healthcare professionals. So I apologise in advance that when I write to you, it will inevitably be a somewhat lengthy letter.

Yours sincerely

Margaret Coats

Chief Executive & Registrar

I wait with bated breath.

Sone good news, however. The letter also said:

1 Background

1.1 Within the last week or so GCC has received complaints against 500+ registrants in relation to the content of websites. We’re currently going through all the complaints to be sure that supporting evidence has been included in the data supplied.

1.2 We anticipate that by the end of the week we will have sent to every relevant registrant a copy of the complaint(s) against them.

1.3 Within our current legislative framework, each complaint would have to be considered on its merits by the Investigating Committee (IC) and a decision made in each instance whether there is a ‘case to answer’.

So, my complaints will be sent to the relevant chiropractors.

1.3 hints that they will be dealing with my complaints differently if they get their way with the Privy Council Office. It remains to be seen what those changes mean in practice and how they would subsequently treat my complaints.

4 thoughts on “Moving the goalposts (Part One)”

  1. A "Section 60 Order" is a reference to Section 60 of the Health Act 1999. This provision states that the Queen by Order in [Privy] Council may make provision to modify the regulation of various healthcare professions, such as conventional medical doctors, dentists and pharmacists but, also, osteopaths and chiropractors. Her Majestiy's powers are exercisable, according to Section 60(1)(a), "so far as appears to her to be necessary or expedient for the purpose of securing or improving the regulation of the profession or the services which the profession provides or to which it contributes".

  2. Hi Zeno,

    At play here is a particular, and little-known law making process. Parliament, in its superior moat-cleaning wisdom has given ultimate power over the regulation of osteopaths and chiropractors to our homeopathy-using monarch, Queen Elizabeth, and, as will no doubt come to pass, to her son, Prince Charles. [need I say any more?].

    But, if you think it might do any good, please contact the Privy Council here, and get your opinions in first-

    In Constitutional Theory, She (and He eventually) usually act on the advice of the Privy Council. Privy Councillors are usually senior politicians, judges, bishops and people of that ilk.

    I don't think any bloggers have yet made it to those exulted heigths, but give it time!

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