The General Chiropractic Council advised that paying for fake reviews is also likely to be illegal, and the practice is the subject of further legislation currently passing through parliament.
In issuing the advice, GCC said:
“A BBC investigation in early August highlighted the problem of fake Google reviews for medical clinics. While we cannot discuss any specific cases, recent research by the GCC of the views of patients demonstrates the trust that prospective patients place on good reviews on sites like Google, TrustPilot, WhatClinic and Facebook, so it is important that our guidance here is clear.”
Depending on the circumstances, a review may be considered advertising – so principle B3 of the Code would apply:
“a chiropractor must: “ensure your advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful as defined by the Advertising Standards Authority and conforms to their current guidance, such as the CAP Code.”
The guidance continued:
Specifically, the chiropractor would be responsible for ensuring that advertising is accurate and verifiable – an impossibility if the chiropractor has never treated the patient. It would be for a Professional Conduct Committee of the GCC to decide if that constitutes Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
Further guidance can be found in the GCC Advertising Toolkit that we published in November 2021.
The GCC view
The General Chiropractic Council said it recognised the value that patients (particularly prospective patients) place on seeing the reviews of others but noted there were equally risks:
Equally there are risks. The GCC is alive to the risks of reviews, testimonials and endorsements. We are aware of a spectrum of activity ranging from paying for a fake review; soliciting reviews in return for payment (in-cash or in-kind); and an unsolicited review (positive or negative) from a patient. There is also the potential for damaging fake reviews to be placed by a third party.
We also recognise the cost and difficulty to chiropractors associated with monitoring and responding to every review across every platform, and the temptation (exercised undoubtedly by only a very small minority) to “game” the system.
We emphasise that chiropractors are personally accountable for all information that publicises or advertises their work, including website and social media platforms/pages owned or controlled by them, regardless of who wrote the information. (Advertising Guidance 2021).
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