The General Chiropractic Council has published a series of learning from recent Professional Conduct Committee cases.

Delivering difficult news

The case concerned a couple who visited the chiropractor for a series of appointments with their one-year-old daughter. The chiropractor diagnosed hypermobility and was alleged to have made comments to the couple about how the condition could affect their later life.


While it is inappropriate to hypothesise on why the parents’ recollection of what was said to them differed from that of the chiropractor; the importance of good communication when relaying potentially serious consequences to long-term health and prognosis (especially when dealing with vulnerable patients such as babies and young children) cannot be understated.

When delivering a diagnosis it is important to remember that this does not occur in a vacuum. Bad news can make the patient/carers more vulnerable and prone to confusion as they process what you are telling them. It is vital to provide information at an appropriate pace. Take time to ensure that they have understood the most important details, and consider providing them with a written report and opportunity to ask further questions later.

Patients/carers will speak to other people (both lay and professional) and will likely conduct online research – it is good practice to ensure they have the terminology to be able to advocate for themselves and access appropriate information.

The SPIKES model (originally created as a protocol for delivering bad news to cancer patients) may be a useful model to be aware of.

Conditions of Practice Order Review Hearing

The Professional Conduct Committee recently considered a Conditions of Practice Order made in June last year against a chiropractor who had acknowledged making inappropriate comments towards a patient.


The primary purpose of the Fitness to Practise process is to protect patients. While some may see it as a mechanism to punish the chiropractor, this is not the purpose – and this case illustrates how engaging with the process fully can benefit both the individual and the profession.

In this case, even at the original PCC hearing, the PCC took note of the attitude of the chiropractor in taking responsibility for his actions and the steps that he had taken to learn from the complaint.

Although found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, the chiropractor used the opportunity afforded to him by the Conditions of Practice order to continue to advance their practice, fully understand their behaviour, work with their mentor and develop their professionalism.

The PCC commended the level of insight into the past misconduct, and considered that the chiropractor had reflected fully on the issues and fully embedded his learning. The PCC agreed that the chiropractor had indicated a genuine desire to learn and improve his practice, and responded by revoking the order and allowing him to return to unrestricted practice.

UK Fitness to Practise News


The Investigating Committee recently considered the case of a chiropractor who had appeared on a video on the YouTube channel of a self-described “holistic health coach”.


When considering providing an endorsement or working with online influencers you should be clear about how any materials produced will be used, how the relationship could reflect on the reputation of you and the profession, and you should carry out due diligence to consider the appropriateness of the partnership.

The GCC Social Media Guidance (Oct 2021) [Link] and toolkit contains basic advice on what to consider. In particular you should note that any endorsement of others (even on their own channels) may be regarded as an expression of your views within your own marketing or advertising activities.

As a registered healthcare professional there are specific rules from the ASA concerning  what you can and cannot endorse (including online).
You may also find the ASA advice on testimonials and endorsements and the “Influencers’ guide to making clear that ads are ads” from the ASA and CMA useful – particularly in instances where you are not being paid for an endorsement but may benefit in other ways.

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