Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - AHPRA lays charges for advertising
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AHPRA lays charges for advertising

09 Aug 2017

AHPRA has charged a New South Wales corporation with breaching the National Law1 prohibition on misleading advertising of regulated health services.

AHPRA alleges that the advertisements in question were published in newspapers in several locations around Australia.

The charges laid today covered four counts of false and misleading advertising and four counts of creating an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment.

Laws about advertising for health practitioners and healthcare providers hold advertisers accountable for the way they advertise regulated health services.

This is an important step because it sees a corporation, not an individual health practitioner, charged by AHPRA using its regulatory powers under section 133 of the National Law.

As this matter is now before the courts we are unable to comment further on this particular case, at this time.

Speaking generally, AHPRA CEO Mr Martin Fletcher said:

‘Our top priority is to ensure that consumers can make choices about their healthcare free from the influence of misleading advertising. We have taken a number of important steps this year to encourage compliance with the National Law requirements for advertising regulated health services, including launching our new Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy.

'We listen to consumers when they raise concerns with us, not just about individuals but also corporate bodies. Today’s charges send a message to healthcare providers and corporate bodies providing regulated health services to the public – you too need to know, understand and meet your obligations under the National Law’, said Mr Fletcher.

What can AHPRA do?

Section 133 of the National Law states that a person must not advertise a regulated health service or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that:

  • is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive, or
  • offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer, or
  • uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business, or
  • creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, or
  • directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.

A registered health practitioner, or a business providing a regulated health service, whose advertising breaches the National Law, may be prosecuted and ordered by a court to pay a $5,000 penalty per offence (for an individual) or a $10,000 penalty per offence (for a body corporate).

When a registered health practitioner has breached the advertising requirements a National Board may also decide that this raises concern about the practitioner’s conduct. Action under the National Law can include placing restrictions on an individual health practitioner’s registration which may affect their ability to advertise their services.

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

For more information

  • Lodge an online enquiry form
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 8708 9001 (overseas callers)
  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200 

1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

Page reviewed 9/08/2017