On Wednesday March 13 2013 NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner introduced the Health Legislation Amendment Bill, 2013 (page 60). This amendment to the Health Care Complaints Act effectively closes the loophole which was highlighted by Meryl Dorey and her anti-vaccination organisation, the Australian Vaccination Network.
So, it with great thanks to Meryl Dorey and her tenacious nature and ideological fervour that health practitioners of all stripes, and their unfounded claims and dangerous advice, will now be subject to even greater scrutiny by regulatory authorities. I can already hear scuttling noises at the borders.
Here is what Minister Skinner had to say, in Parliament:
As members will be aware, the Health Care Complaints Act established the Health Care Complaints Commission as an independent body to assess, investigate and prosecute complaints against health practitioners and health service providers. However, a 2012 Supreme Court decision, Australian Vaccination Network Inc. v Health Care Complaints Commission, has led to a limitation on when the Health Care Complaints Commission can investigate matters affecting public health or safety. The structure of the Health Care Complaints Act means the Health Care Complaints Commission has jurisdiction to investigate a matter only when a valid complaint has been made. Section 7 of the Act sets out whom a complaint can be made about and this list includes health service providers. However, the recent case in the Supreme Court found the Health Care Complaints Commission can investigate only if the complaint shows that the health service in question affects the clinical management or care of an individual client.
The judgement has created significant concern that a complaint cannot be investigated by the Health Care Complaints Commission if the matter raises a real likelihood of impacting on public health or safety: There must be a specific case where an individual client is affected, thereby limiting the capacity of the Health Care Complaints Commission to act in the public interest. The bill therefore amends section 7 of the Health Care Complaints Act to make clear that a complaint can be made against a health service if the health service affects, or is likely to affect, the clinical management or care of an individual client.
So, when the Bill passes (which it will, with support from all sides of Parliament), no longer will the HCCC require a complaint from an individual whose care was directly affected. Now, thanks to Meryl Dorey, dubious practitioners can be investigated by the HCCC if their service is “likely” to affect an individual.
So, to the Michael Jensens, Fran Sheffields, Nimrod Weiners, and all of your associates: ALL HAIL MERYL. She has dropped you in it, big time. Time to get your houses in order.