This Chiropractic Awareness Week (April 4-10), we spoke to Catherine Quinn, President of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), to uncover the value and relevance of chiropractic care in today’s healthcare landscape – from what it means for primary healthcare providers and the profession’s position on building more integrated work, to how consumers can benefit from chiropractic treatment.
Catherine has been President of the BCA since 2017 and is the youngest President the BCA has ever had. She is the third female president in the history of the BCA, the first in 1945 and the second in 1970. In addition to having a lasting impact on the BCA by breaking down some of the barriers and myths about the industry, Catherine has empowered those in the profession so that its breadth and support are better understood by a wide range of audiences.
We started our conversation by discussing integrated health care, asking what role chiropractors can play and why a more collaborative approach is beneficial for primary services.
Catherine explained, referring to some of the pressures primary care providers face: “Musculoskeletal disorders (MSK) are the leading cause of disability, accounting for 30% of all years lived with disability. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still relevant. Patients with musculoskeletal disorders continue to see their care affected by issues such as clinic appointments being cancelled, difficulty accessing face-to-face care, and some being unable to continue regular prescribed exercise.
When the pandemic hit, overnight, many people with musculoskeletal conditions were unable to access in-person services. This situation has left patients facing canceled appointments, not knowing how long their treatment might be delayed. As the situation continued, an increasing number of people with new symptoms were unable to access NHS support, meaning there was a huge increase in the number of patients seeking care in the independent sector. Private healthcare practitioners have a role to play in ensuring sufficient capacity in community and preventive MSK services, allowing patients to have choice in how they access their healthcare.
As chiropractors, we have been happy to contribute to the burden of musculoskeletal conditions by working alongside our colleagues in primary care and, allowing other healthcare professionals, to tap into the expertise that chiropractors can offer.
“Better integrated models of care mean patients can receive more direct pathways to the treatment they need”
“There is often a level of misconception about chiropractic care and a lack of understanding of its rigor; those qualified in this occupation work as fully regulated healthcare professionals with at least four years of Masters level training. BCA members go even further. New members are provisional until they complete post-registration training with the Royal College of Chiropractors. Indeed, we want all of our members to be supported through their first year of practice and achieve the highest standards of care for their patients by engaging in reflective practice and integrated learning.
“Where primary departments face pressure to meet their goals and often have large patient lists, chiropractors can reduce some of those wait times by helping people who need musculoskeletal (MSK) treatment .
“This is something that we at BCA are immensely passionate about. Where private practice referrals are becoming more common, in line with the modern healthcare movement towards greater choice for patients, integration means that chiropractors become part of the private and public mix – with the common goal of providing the most effective and efficient patient care.
“In short, better integrated models of care mean that patients can receive more direct routes to the treatment they need. I believe that chiropractors can best contribute to the health of the people of our country, by supporting primary health care workers within the NHS through mutually beneficial collaboration.
We continued our discussion by addressing some of the ways chiropractors can begin to work on a more integrated basis, by approaching First Contact Practitioners (FCP). I asked Catherine why it is useful to have chiropractors in these roles.
“FCPs are medical professionals who are the first point of contact with patients with musculoskeletal disorders, instead of the patient having to first book an appointment and be referred by a GP.
“There is ample evidence to show that primary care services using FCPs are able to alleviate some of the challenges that the current GP referral system faces. For example, 30% of GP appointments are related to musculoskeletal disorders so there is an incredible opportunity for chiropractors to get involved in supporting these services and alleviating the growing pressures.
Chiropractors can provide vital support by reducing waiting times, improving the quality of care and getting patients the treatment they need on behalf of NHS support.
“Most importantly, with FCPs, musculoskeletal patients see much shorter waiting times for treatment (as little as 2-3 days), so the benefits speak for themselves for both patient and GP. .”
So there seems to be a huge opportunity here to fill a tangible need – however, why aren’t there already more chiropractors in this role and what is your vision for the future of chiropractic? ?
“We need to encourage greater awareness among chiropractors and other healthcare providers about how an integrated workforce could benefit both healthcare professionals and patients. In fact, there are only four FCP chiropractors to date, and that’s something we’re looking to change.
“There are two factors to consider, we need our NHS colleagues to understand the rigor and evidence supporting how the chiropractic profession delivers care and that chiropractors see a career in the NHS as an option. which will be rewarding. At BCA, we also recognize that there are wildly varying perceptions of chiropractic care, which we want to address so that every health discipline has a consistent understanding. Chiropractic is a registered primary health care profession and a safe form of treatment. In the UK, chiropractors are regulated by law through the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) and held to strict codes of practice, in the same way as dentists and doctors. At the BCA, we want to represent the highest quality chiropractic care, which is part of a patient-centered approach, based on evidence and science.
“As a patient-focused organization, our primary goal is to provide the best possible treatment to those who need our care. We sincerely believe that working in collaboration with other primary care and NHS services is the way to achieve this goal.
“To make this happen, we focus on peer acceptance, trust and inclusion, which will allow us to be part of the wider healthcare team, enabling the skills and experience of our members to be recognized and valued by other health professionals who operate in our field.”
It’s fair to say that medical professionals have different perceptions and understandings of chiropractic care – how do you respond to those who might question its credibility? What does the best chiropractic care look like and why should our readers take it seriously?
“We understand the different perceptions healthcare professionals have of chiropractic care and it is our job at BCA to show that we are a partner with the same vision: to provide quality, effective and legitimate solutions to MS conditions.
“A lot of different perceptions stem from a lack of understanding of what chiropractors do, the training they go through to qualify, and how they are regulated. Like all healthcare professions, chiropractic care has evolved based on the evidence, professional experience and needs of our patients over the years, and the way we work today is to care for patients to contribute to their health as part of a care team Our educational institutions are more than ever committed to an integrated approach to the delivery of their courses, and with students from a variety of regulated health professions learning alongside each other, we see a future where these misconceptions are historic.
“Where the right knowledge is lacking, there can be an element of fear of the unknown, leading to negative bias. At BCA, this is a high priority for us. We show other healthcare professionals our values and our commitment to improving patient health.
Finally, what’s one takeaway or action you’d like our readers to keep in mind this Chiropractic Awareness Week?
“Approach chiropractic care with an open mind and let us show you the level of quality, expertise and commitment of BCA members to improving the nation’s health.
“We stand ready to support the wider health community and primary carers, alleviating some of the pressures already faced by the NHS by offering our expert knowledge of MSK conditions. reaching 8.75 million people.
“We are in the perfect position to have the training and experience to support GPs, so the main takeaway from Chiropractic Awareness Week would be to just start a conversation with us about how! “
The BCA is the largest and oldest association of chiropractors in the UK. In addition to promoting international standards of education and exemplary conduct, the BCA supports chiropractors progress and develop to achieve their professional ambitions with honor and integrity, every step of the way. This Chiropractic Awareness Week, the ACC raises awareness of the rigor, relevance and evidence that drives the profession and the association’s ambition to integrate chiropractic more closely into mainstream health care.