11 May 2017
A man in Western Australia has been convicted of holding himself out as a registered optometrist while not being registered under the National Law1 for a second time.
Mr Anthony Patrick Cashman was convicted of six charges and sentenced at the Magistrates Court of Western Australia after he pleaded guilty. The charges, which were brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), relate to holding himself out, and claiming to be a registered optometrist while not being registered, and unlawfully prescribing optical appliances.
Mr Cashman admitted to representing himself as an optometrist and working as an optometrist at an optometry practice in Perth (Optometry Practice) between February 2016 and April 2016.
Mr Cashman had applied for general registration as an optometrist with the Optometry Board of Australia the previous year but his application had been refused as he did not fully meet the Board’s requirements for registration.
In this period, he admitted to conducting optometry examinations on at least 122 occasions and prescribing optical appliances to patients on at least 98 of those occasions, while not holding registration as an optometrist.
Mr Cashman was previously convicted of similar offences in Western Australia in August 2015.
Mr Cashman was remorseful, pleaded guilty at the first reasonable opportunity and submitted that at the time of the offending, he was experiencing personal difficulties which contributed to the way he approached matters in life.
Taking this into consideration, the Court found that the offending was serious given the proximity in time to his previous convictions for similar offending, that he knew he was not registered under the National Law and was not therefore permitted to represent himself, and work, as a registered optometrist. The Court further found that Mr Cashman’s culpability was amplified because, not only did he represent himself as a registered optometrist, he also worked as one, and the optometry practice at which he worked suffered a financial loss as a result.
The Court ordered Mr Cashman to a pay a fine of $18,000 and costs to AHPRA in the amount of $2,865.
It is a serious matter if anyone who is not a registered health practitioner claims to be a registered health practitioner or uses titles that are protected under the National Law (e.g. ‘nurse', ‘medical practitioner', ‘optometrist’ etc.). Both are offences and may be prosecuted by AHPRA.
The National Law protects the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles. The law allows for penalties for falsely using protected titles or holding out to be a registered practitioner. It is also an offence to prescribe an optical appliance unless the person is a registered optometrist or medical practitioner. The maximum penalty which a court may impose is $30,000 (in the case of an individual) or $60,000 (in the case of a body corporate).
AHPRA reminds consumers that it is important that they do not receive care from unregistered individuals. Anyone receiving treatment from an unregistered person is a cause for concern and we want to hear from them. Anyone can raise a concern by calling 1300 419 495.
Make sure you are seeing a registered health practitioner
All registered health practitioners appear on the online national Register of Practitioners, which is a searchable list that is accessible on the AHPRA website. If a person does not appear on the register, they are not registered to practise in a regulated health profession in Australia.
Title protection is an important way the National Law helps to protect the public. Only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified are able to use protected titles.
AHPRA works in partnership with 14 National Boards, including the Optometry Board of Australia (the Board), who are responsible for regulating registered health practitioners, protecting the public, and setting the standards and policies that all registered health practitioners must meet. Only optometrists registered with the Board can use the protected title ‘optometrist’.
Practitioners are required to renew their registration each year to make sure they are suitably trained and qualified to practise their profession in Australia. When an optometrist renews their registration they make declarations which state they meet registration requirements which the Board sets to make sure the public are safe.
If an individual who is currently not registered wishes to apply for registration, their application is accessed to make sure they meet the Board’s registration standards and codes, guidelines and policies.
1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).