Registration vs. Membership

Posted on 12 April 2013 in Current Events by Dr. John Dawson
Dr. John Dawson

In recent months there has been increased debate about chiropractic regulation in the Isle of Man.  While the topic has made its way into the House of Keys many questions remained unanswered.  This article is not to determine whether or not the chiropractic profession should be regulated in the Isle of Man, but offer some information on the current state of chiropractic in the British Isles.

There are many different chiropractic organisations throughout the British Isles today.  Some chiropractors may belong to one or many depending on where one decides to practice.   In some countries chiropractors are legally required to join a regulatory body in order to practice (e.g.  England, Scotland, Wales), while in other countries there is no such law and anyone can call themselves a chiropractor regardless of education or qualification (e.g. Ireland, Isle of Man).  While some countries do not have any chiropractic legislation they do have associations.    Associations are voluntary groups of individuals who enter into an agreement to accomplish a purpose.  While associations can attempt to influence political policy they are self regulating groups with members who agree on a certain philosophy or ideal—they are not a legal requirement to practice chiropractic. 

British Chiropractic, Scottish Chiropractic, United Chiropractic Associations and the Chiropractic Association of Ireland are all self-regulating organisations that have no legal power to prevent anyone from calling themselves a chiropractor or practicing chiropractic.  Members of these associations may be required to pay a fee and be vetted through an application process, but acceptance only results in membership.  Being refused membership or having membership revoked does not mean an individual has to stop using the title of chiropractor or stop practising chiropractic.

The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is the regulatory body in the United Kingdom that requires all chiropractors to apply in order to be registered.  Being on this register determines whether or not you can call yourself a chiropractor and practice chiropractic in the United Kingdom.  Failure to register can result in criminal prosecution.  The main objective of this regulatory body is to ensure public safety and ensure that people who go to see a chiropractor are protected by ethical standards.  Being refused admission to the register or being removed from the register means you are no longer allowed to call yourself a chiropractor or practice chiropractic in the United Kingdom.

As it stands the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) is the only government that has legislation for chiropractic.  With a regulatory body in place every chiropractor who wants to practice in the United Kingdom must register with the governing body—in this case the GCC—in order to legally call themselves a chiropractor.  Without registration anyone calling them self a chiropractor, qualified or not, is committing a criminal offence.  However, in the Isle of Man, there is no legislation that requires chiropractors to be registered no matter what association memberships are listed.  Being registered is not the same as having membership.

A chiropractor can be a member of the British Chiropractic, Scottish Chiropractic, United Chiropractic Associations and the Chiropractic Association of Ireland all at the same time and still not be legally allowed to practice chiropractic in the United Kingdom.

A chiropractor may not be a member of any of these associations, but because he or she is registered with the General Chiropractic Council can practice chiropractic anywhere in the United Kingdom. 

In the Isle of Man the current debate in the House of Keys is focussed on chiropractors being ‘regulated’. Perhaps the above information can help you decide whether or not that regulation is based on registration or membership. 

Please feel free to visit the ‘contact us’ portion of the website if you have any further inquiries.