Summary of Council Decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A website for Kingsbridge Chiropractic Clinic, www.kingsbridgechiropractic.co.uk, included an FAQ page which stated "Is Chiropractic safe? Chiropractors are neuro-musculoskeletal specialists, trained as primary healthcare practitioners - meaning that no matter what the ailment, each patient will receive the appropriate care or referral as necessary".
The Nightingale Collaboration challenged whether the reference to "primary healthcare practitioners":
1. misleadingly implied that chiropractors held general medical qualifications, and that they were able to treat a wide variety of conditions and act as a primary contact for anyone with health concerns to enable them to access other medical services as required; and
2. was likely to discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought.
1. & 2. The chiropractor who operated Kingsbridge Chiropractic Clinic said they were a member of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), which was the largest association for chiropractors in the UK. They said the statement "Chiropractic is an independent primary healthcare profession" was commonly used by the BCA in their promotional material. They said the BCA stated in their leaflets that Chiropractic was a primary healthcare profession which specialised in the diagnosis, treatment and management of musculoskeletal conditions that were due to mechanical dysfunction of the joints and muscles, particularly of the neck and back. They also said the statutory regulator for chiropractors, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), included the term "Chiropractic is an independent primary healthcare profession" in their Code of Practice and Standard of Proficiency. They did not believe that their use of the term implied that chiropractors held general medical qualifications.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the term "primary healthcare practitioners" was not protected and did not have a fixed definition. We acknowledged, however, that the term "primary healthcare" was generally used in the health sector to refer to the first point of contact for the public to access healthcare in the community, such as GPs, dentists and optometrists. We considered that the average consumer was likely to have an awareness that chiropractic focused on musculoskeletal conditions and considered that, in the context of the ad, consumers were likely to understand the term "primary healthcare practitioners" to refer to their ability to access chiropractic treatment directly, without referral. We did not consider the term implied that chiropractors held general medical qualifications, that they were able to treat a wide variety of conditions (beyond musculoskeletal conditions) or that they could act as a primary contact for those with general health concerns. We also did not consider the term was likely to discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. We therefore concluded the claim did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 12.2 12.2 Marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Accurate and responsible general information about such conditions may, however, be offered (see rule 12.11).
Health professionals will be deemed suitably qualified only if they can provide suitable credentials, for example, evidence of: relevant professional expertise or qualifications; systems for regular review of members' skills and competencies and suitable professional indemnity insurance covering all services provided; accreditation by a professional or regulatory body that has systems for dealing with complaints and taking disciplinary action and has registration based on minimum standards for training and qualifications. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.