I received a call last week from the new CEO of the FDAP, Carole Sharma,regarding my statement about Therapists receiving cash kick backs from clinics for referrals. Carole previously had a role at the National Treatment Agency and seems to have had a good reputation there for getting things done. Given that she has only just taken on this new role at the FDAP it is impressive to see that she has hit the ground running and the FDAP may now take on a new invigorated role in our industry under her stewardship.
I have been campaigning for a year now about the practice of “independent agents” telling clients they are recommending the best clinics for them while in fact they only refer to a handful of clinics who pay them cash kick backs. Unfortunately this practice spread to the extent that lots of the Central London therapists will not make a referral to a clinic unless there is a the promise of readies in a brown paper bag under the table. It is also sad but true that this practice is actively promoted by some of the largest and best known private hospital groups in the country. I have long complained that this practice is highly unethical and will sooner or later, bring our profession into disrepute.
I had hoped that our regulatory bodies, EATA for the clinics and the FDAP as regulators of the therapists, would have taken some more decisive action in the past but it seems might be ready to look at this again.
I see no problem with therapists charging for helping clients pick the best clinic for their needs and neither do I see any problem with therapists charging clients to assist the families. The problems come when the therapists and agents are taking a kick back from the clinics. This inevitably results in the decisions being based on who gives the kick back rather than which is the most appropriate clinic. Commission agents have tried to give themselves the facade of decency by creating a few self appointed membership organisations but these are merely a fig leaf. They state that the agents have to declare that they are receiving a commission from clinics but they still don’t point out that they will only refer to the clinics who pay them kick backs.
Recently the FDAP has ruled that the commission agents and therapists should declare their commission interests to their clients but this clearly doesn’t go far enough. I look forward to discussing this issue with Carole when she has time to discuss it.
The FDAP have asked me to name any therapists who I am aware may be breaching their codes but I have declined to do so yet. I would far rather a profession such as ours, which considers itself to be a highly ethical, would be able to regulate this ourselves. However, at some point we will all need to take stronger action.