McTimoney Chiropractic College in Deep Trouble

Lower_spineToday, the University of Wales announced that it is to cease accrediting degrees at all but two colleges. The University has made a business in education by accrediting degrees from private colleges both here in the UK and across the world.

But in doing so, it has been criticised for letting standards drop and allowing bogus institutions to award degrees in their name.

The BBC have been on the case for a while. Last year they investigated the University’s support for a Malaysian college run by a pop star who had questionable qualifications. Since then the University watchdog, the QAA, have asked Wales to review their accreditations. Government minister Leighton Andrews says “the University of Wales has let down higher education in Wales and brought the nation “into disrepute”.”

Closer to home, the University has been accrediting the controversial McTimoney Chiropractic College in Abingdon. When the British Chiropractic Association decided to sue science writer Simon Singh for libel, the McTimoney chiropractors reacted bizarrely by telling all its members to take down their web sites for fear of complaints being made against them. The college soon came under the spotlight for its MSc degrees in chiropractic manipulation for small mammals and children – treatments that “do not have a jot of evidence” behind them.

So, it looks like the McTimoney College will soon have its degree awarding rug pulled from under its feet. This is a very serious situation for it as their students need an accredited degree in order to register with the General Chiropractic Council and practice legally as a chiropractor. It is illegal in the UK to call your self a chiropractor without registration.

It is likely that current students may still be awarded degrees as other colleges affected are saying this is the case. However, this will need to be clarified. I am sure there are many anxious back cracking students wanting to know if their tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted.

For students about to start their degrees, the future is much less certain. The College will need to find another University to accredit their programme. This might take some time, and not least because chiropractic as a therapy has come under much criticism as a useless hang over from Victorian travelling bone-setting charlatans. It will be a brave or desperate institution that takes them on.

Quackery has many victims, and the first are the students who get fooled into training. We now know chiropractic is a largely useless therapy, with a history of pseudoscience and magical thinking. Many students will come to McTimoney as second careers and will not get direct funding. They will have spent tens of thousands of pounds on a four year ‘MSc’, long before this government decided that should be the norm. In order to repay that cost, students must work very hard as a chiropractor with some, no doubt, getting into the very dubious arts of ‘wellness’ chiropractic.

By accrediting these degrees, Wales has been doing these young people a disservice.  It has given these techniques an air of legitimacy that they do not deserve. When starting a degree, students ought to have confidence that what they are learning is based on sound principles, academic rigour and good evidence. Chiropractic lacks these vital features and so today’s announcement is good news for future students.

Update

DCScience picks up the news and gives lots of useful background.

39 comments for “McTimoney Chiropractic College in Deep Trouble

  1. Badly Shaved Monkey
    October 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Ha, ha, ha!!

    (It needed to be said.)

    • Tzspence
      November 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      It would seem that the McTimony Chiropractic College has retained its validation with the U of Wales until 2017. Hardly the disaster predicted, or in fact wished for, which makes the ‘joy’ you show is maybe a little presumptuous. But what’s new !

      • Mojo
        November 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        It would seem that this is already being discussed at the foot of this page.

      • tzspence
        November 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

        I noted that, but there is nothing new other than a link where the only mention on the subject of chiropractic is a rant/ comment (depending on ones stance) by a single poster. Currently there is no evidence that the chiropractic group has in fact lost its validation or is in any way in any trouble with their validation at this time? My post was just a reflection of the same and to highlight the conjecture of the above blog.

  2. October 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

    A pound says they find somewhere else to accredit their “degrees”. They might even switch to being foreign registered.

    You may be interested in two places that have given me grief for trying to keep their Wikipedia articles accurate:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bircham_International_University

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Christopher_Iba_Mar_Diop_College_of_Medicine

    The latter brought me into contact with quite the most vicious Wikipedia troll I have ever encountered: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/St_Christopher

  3. Liam Mulvany
    October 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    “not least because chiropractic as a therapy has come under much criticism as a useless hang over from Victorian travelling bone-setting charlatans. It will be a brave or desperate institution that takes them on.” well some people do print some nonsense on their blogs. Are we back to the dangerous or tickle tact?

    “I am sure there are many anxious back cracking students wanting to know if their tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted.”
    For anybody reading this your money will not be wasted, you will leave with a fantastic technique that will help thousands of people out of pain, something these skeptics will never know anything about. You do not need a degree or need to join the GCC to apply this very effective therapy.

    “Quackery has many victims, and the first are the students who get fooled into training.” very ignorant statement as the vast majority train as a McT because they have benefitted from it, you, for some reason think they thought “I know I’ll train as a chiropractor, I don’t know anything about it but it sounds good” You apparently know a student ask him why he started his training then ask him how many students in his year have been helped by McT, then see if they are foolish.

    “We now know chiropractic is a largely useless therapy, with a history of pseudoscience and magical thinking.” Rather sad attempt. please give me a name of a profession or subject that doesn’t have a history of pseodoscience or magical thinking.

    “Many students will come to McTimoney as second careers and will not get direct funding.” Do you have evidence of this? or is this just your opinion based on what? anecdote?

    “with some, no doubt, getting into the very dubious arts of ‘wellness’ chiropractic.” Er, I agree with this bit.

    And don’t right off the college just yet ;-)

    • October 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Mwaaaaaahahahahaaa!

      I think the college has already been written off, in the “F- right off” sense.

      • Liam Mulvany
        October 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm

        We shall see. I liked the link.

    • Kate
      November 9, 2011 at 12:46 am

      “And don’t right off the college just yet”
      Funny how the enthusiasts for quackery are so often also semi-literate.

  4. James
    October 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Given that BPP operates and manages McTimoney college I’m sure there must be an obvious candidate as to who will start validating their degrees.

    • Jonathan
      October 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      My daughter has colic. Could you cure her of that Liam?

      • Liam Mulvany
        October 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

        I used gripe water for my daughter.

      • Badly Shaved Monkey
        October 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm

        Infant colic can be a nightmare and so can its treatment. Because it almost universally goes away of its own accord the medical literature it littered with useless remedies and it really is unclear whether anything makes much difference.

        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/understanding-and-treating-colic/

  5. Sarah James
    October 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    What has got me absolutely stumped is why you care enough to bother writing such things. OK you don’t believe in chiropractic treatment -got it loud and clear – but have you ever suffered from a back problem, or had a treatment?

    • Andrew Gilbey
      October 12, 2011 at 4:45 am

      Just be glad LCN does care. At least now more people are becoming aware of what chiropractic is and isn’t.

    • Badly Shaved Monkey
      October 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Yes.
      No.
      Thanks for asking.

    • le canard noir
      October 12, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      Ditto.

      My quite bad back pain cleared up on its own after a few months some years ago. If I had been foolish enough to spend a fortune with a chiropractor, there may have been the temptation to attribute that dramatic improvement to their magic back cracking.

  6. Tim
    October 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Forgive a comment from a patient (for what would I know ?) but the McTimoney method is the only one that works for me. My wife and I were early Abingdon patients and many years later in another part of the country I’ve come back the method with a caring and very competent practitioner who has helped me enormously with severe pain. Thankfully I also have several hospital consultants who recognise and support the care I get from my McTimoney practitioner.
    Quackery my arse.

  7. Badly Shaved Monkey
    October 10, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Your severe pain has completely resolved?

  8. nigel
    October 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    They must help people right because otherwise they wouldn’t have survived as a profession. So what’s the beef?

    Also who ever made this site is good a analysing from conclusions of studies but has never criticised or scrutinized the studies themselves.

    • Mojo
      October 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      “They must help people right because otherwise they wouldn’t have survived as a profession.”

      Bloodletting was used as a routine treatment for thousands of years.

      • Liam Mulvany
        October 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

        Nigel, these skeptics can only search the internet for studies done by others. They then use which ever evidence backs up their own bias, which is even worse when the person doing the research is biased in the first place.Don’t beleive for a second these are real sceptics that challenge ideas and search for the truth using all resources available to them. They have an idea that they think they know what they are talking about then discard all evidence that proves them wrong but then almost religously beleive the evidence that supports their beleifs.

      • Badly Shaved Monkey
        October 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

        Liam, you seem to have a problem with people reading the literature. Do you have a quantity of original studies that you have done yourself that provide evidence for chiropractic?

      • Liam Mulvany
        October 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

        Mr Monkey, I have argued the point extensively on many sites and with Prof ernst on Pulse. He says there is no evidence for this or that, I then give him several studies that show positive results for what his argument was. What do i get? No reply. Check out pulse if you haven’t already. This is my point Ernst will NOT alter his perception of any subject he has made his mind up on and apparently researched. Mr Ernst is biased and as none of his resaerch has been reproduced by other scientists none of his research can been seen as anything but biased work, this is after all the scientific way is it not? the problem is when you base YOUR opinion, no sorry thats wrong. The problem is when you take as fact something that you have read literature on, but actually know nothing about, then go on to post things on blogs as if you are an expert. reading about it’s fine. basing your opinion on it is fine. Pretending you know everything about it coz you’ve read Ernst research is wrong. I could put together many studies for you, hundreds. would it change your opinion? Or would I need to give you data regarding a RCT which takes a couple of years to do and would require about a million quid. sorry but I’m not up to that. Are you?

      • Tzspence
        November 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        @Mojo

        As a physio can you answer the claims made on these sites. You always enjoy throwing stones, but never seem to realise that the problem may be on your own back yard.

        What do physical therapists/ physiotherapists treat:

        http://automailer.com/tws/disease.html

        http://www.physio4life.co.uk/physiotherapy/what-can-physiotherapy-help.htm

        http://www.yell.com/health/blog/physiotherapists-what-common-ailments-can-physiotherapists-treat/

        http://www.ealingphysio.com/whyPhysio.html

      • Mojo
        November 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

        “As a physio can you answer the claims made on these sites.”

        Sory, Tuppence, I can’t – “physiotherapist” is a protected title, you see.

    • Andrew Gilbey
      October 12, 2011 at 4:49 am

      Nigel – A lot of studies of chiropracty really aren’t hard to criticise; that said, there are a few that have a design appropriate to test the question under investigation. Invariably, the latter are conducted by independent and objective reserchers, such as Professor Ernst.

  9. Badly Shaved Monkey
    October 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    OK, Liam, give us some examples. High-quality studies. Good controls.

    • Andrew Gilbey
      October 12, 2011 at 5:09 am

      Liam, there are studies and there are studies. To understand this point better, you could google ‘heirachy of evidence’. My guess would be that the studies you refer to, the ones with the so-called positive findings, would score low on, say, the JADAD scale (like err, minus 5). Whilst the negative studies (which ironically I call the positive ones) would tend to be of intrinsically better quality.

      So, if a systematic review concludes a treatment is useless and a one-shot design says it’s useful, probably it’s useless.

  10. October 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    On Twitter this morning, Andy pointed out yet more trouble for the University of Wales — and the poor students caught up in a mess not of their making: University of Wales helps 650 stranded Tasmac students

  11. Dr Dynamic
    November 4, 2011 at 8:06 am

    I’ve done some investigating on my own account and it seems that the UOW is NOT about to pull the plug on McTimoney College or any of their other collaborative centres in the immediate future. The online advice for current students http://www.wales.ac.uk/Resources/Documents/Academic/Scholarships/UpdatedStudentFAQ.pdf makes this clear.

    There are contracts in place for years to come and UOW will honour those contracts. I am reliably told that McTimoney College will continue graduating students with a UOW degree under the current contract until 2018.

    So, yet again, Mr Canard has shown himself to be an alarmist with very poor research skills. Pot, kettle, black.

    • Le Canard Noir
      November 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      It would appear Mr Dynamic (I assume you are a chiropractor) that you just want to point score.

      Of course, the link to post does not tell us anything new. (It is worth noting the masterfully evasive lie at the start about why the merger is happening.) The document describes what is happening to existing students. At the time of writing this post, nothing was clear.

      What will happen to new students though is still unclear. Since the University of Wales will shortly cease to exist, we must await to see how Trinity Saint David view any existing validations it will inherit.

      Statements from yourself and McTimoney directly contradict the Vice Chancellor’s position about external degrees:

      http://www.wales.ac.uk/en/NewsandEvents/News/General/UniversityofWaleslaunchesboldnewacademicstrategy.aspx

      The University of Wales is to launch a new academic strategy, which will see the institution only award degrees to students on courses designed and fully controlled by the University.

      It will instigate discussions with these Universities to withdraw from awarding degrees to their students. The University will also bring to a close validated programmes offered at centres in the UK and overseas and introduce a new academic model.

      We shall await to see where all this goes.

  12. le canard noir
    November 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I would be concerned that the mcTimoney College is not being completely forthright with its recent claim that its University of Wales accreditation is secure.

    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=418049

  13. Ariel Fioritto
    June 9, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Hmm… I don’t really agree with this post, although I respect your opinion.

  14. November 27, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    From a personal point of view getting treatment from a Mc T practitioner made a very long term back problem resolve. now if I get injured in work ( nursing) or training ( martial arts) I could suffer for several months and hope the damage I do whilst I heal is not damaging me further or I can can choose to be be analgesia and pain free and get realigned. My personal experience of physio following a very long wait for an appointment is a very brief list of stretching exercises! Woohoo pain and analgesia and guess what it may well heal by itself.

    • Andy Lewis
      November 28, 2013 at 6:48 am

      The trick is of course to show the McT also did not just catch you on a natural cycle of self-healing.

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