NICE 2 years on - and only 5% of GPs can prescribe spinal manipulation
by Richard Brown, BCA President on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:58pm

It is two years since the NICE guidelines advocating treatments for back pain commonly provided by chiropractors, yet most GPs still cannot prescribe treatments recommended in the guidelines, say the results of a survey conducted by the College of Medicine in advance of its inaugural conference today.

Thirty four per cent of GPs were unable to prescribe treatments named in the guidelines, with only 5% having access to prescribe spinal manipulation for their patients with chronic back pain. The College of Medicine's survey involved over 500 GPs. Patients were also polled, with 82% saying they want access to complementary medicine on the NHS.

The findings suggest a 'postcode lottery' with some areas far more fortunate than others in access to effective back pain treatments.

One pilot study performed in the North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) showed that 95% of patients having access to chiropractic, osteopathy or physiotherapy services using the NICE-recommended treatment were delighted with their care. The pilot also demonstrated a 30% reduction in referrals into the orthopaedic department, with fewer patients undergoing surgery.

Low back pain not being treated by chiropractors in spite of NICE guidelinesPresident of the British Chiropractic Association Richard Brown, commenting n the latest survey results said, "With the current crises facing the NHS on a number of fronts, it seems nonsensical that patients are being denied access to cost effective care. Back pain is one of the costliest conditions, and NICE have recommended a number of evidence-based treatments. Failure to facilitate access is not in the best interests of PCTs but more importantly is not in the best interests of patients. With waiting lists for NHS physiotherapy spiralling, we are in danger of an epidemic of chroinic back pain sufferers."