Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Responsible advertising of health services: Practitioners reminded about their legal obligations on advertising
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Responsible advertising of health services: Practitioners reminded about their legal obligations on advertising

20 Apr 2017

Registered practitioners are reminded to check, correct and comply with their professional and legal advertising obligations.

The National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) published a strategy for the National Scheme today to help keep health service consumers safe from misleading advertising.1

The Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme (159 KB,PDF), Word version (883 KB,DOCX) explains how National Boards and AHPRA will manage advertising complaints and compliance, including the regulatory powers available to deal with breaches of the National Law.2

'The National Law limits how regulated health services can be advertised. It is a professional obligation for registered health practitioners to advertise responsibly and support members of the community to make informed choices about their healthcare,' AHPRA CEO Mr Fletcher said.3

'I expect that implementation of this strategy will further improve how regulated health services are advertised so that healthcare consumers are better informed.

'Both AHPRA and National Boards are serious about our approach to managing advertising complaints and taking appropriate action to achieve compliance. We are sending a loud and clear message to practitioners: when you advertise your services you must comply with your professional and legal requirements to not mislead consumers in any way, or consequences may follow.

'When preparing their advertising, a health practitioner should always put the consumer first and ensure that their advertising is not false, misleading or deceptive in any way,' Mr Fletcher said.

This strategy builds on the previous education and enforcement work from National Boards and AHPRA and will be supported by publishing new materials in the coming weeks to help health practitioners understand their advertising obligations legally and professionally.

'We recognise that most health practitioners want to comply with the law and their professional obligations, and we aim to make compliance as easy as possible. We will continue to provide information to practitioners and their professional organisations to help them understand their advertising obligations. However, health practitioners are on notice about the possible consequences of non-compliance, which in more serious cases can involve disciplinary action such as conditions restricting how a practitioner can advertise or prosecution by AHPRA through the courts,' Mr Fletcher said.

Under the National Law, a regulated health service or a business providing a regulated health service must not advertise in a way that:

  • is false, misleading or deceptive
  • uses gifts, discounts or inducements without explaining the terms and conditions of the offer
  • uses a testimonial or a purported testimonial
  • creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, and/or
  • directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.

There are also restrictions on advertising in a way that identifies a health practitioner as a specialist when they do not hold registration as a specialist or as an endorsed practitioner in a health profession.

More information is available on the Advertising resources section of the AHPRA website.

AHPRA’s regulatory role means it may need to take action for non-compliant advertising, so health practitioners who are unsure about whether or not their advertising complies with the National Law should seek advice from their:

  • professional association
  • insurer, and/or
  • an independent legal adviser.

For more information

  • Go to Advertising resources on the AHPRA website
  • Lodge an online enquiry form
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 03 9275 9009 (overseas callers)
  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200 

1National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

2The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

3A ‘regulated health service’ is a service provided by, or usually provided by, a health practitioner, as defined in the National Law. The advertising provisions of the National Law cover the advertising of a regulated health service, or the advertising of a business that provides a regulated health service.

Page reviewed 20/04/2017