22 Dec 2020
A man who allowed unregistered individuals to provide occupational therapy and physiotherapy services to aged care residents in Victoria today pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court of Victoria following charges brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).
Michael Dempsey was convicted of four charges of holding out one person as a physiotherapist and another person as an occupational therapist when neither were registered, in breach of the National Law1, and fined a total of $10,000.
Mr Dempsey admitted to holding out the two unregistered individuals and offering their services to provide complex health care such as pain management to residents at several aged care facilities in Victoria between April and May 2018.
Magistrate Paul Smith imposed a fine of $2,500 per offence, and ordered Mr Dempsey to pay Ahpra’s costs of $50,685.
The magistrate said while no one was hurt in any way on this occasion, the National Law was all about the protection of the community, and in any civilised society that must always come first.
Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher welcomed the outcome as a win for public safety.
‘The actions of Mr Dempsey were a gross betrayal of the trust of these aged care residents and we hope this conviction sends a strong message of deterrence to others,’ he said.
This is the second time Ahpra has prosecuted Mr Dempsey for offences under the National Law. Mr Dempsey’s business, Libero Health Care Pty Ltd, operated in both Victoria and Tasmania during 2018. Ahpra began an investigation into Mr Dempsey’s activities in both states in 2018 and determined to begin separate prosecutions in respect of alleged offences in each state.
In 2019, Mr Dempsey pleaded guilty to charges of holding out 11 people as registered physiotherapists or occupational therapists when they were not, at numerous aged care facilities in Tasmania. In that case the individuals held no relevant qualifications and came from unrelated sectors including hospitality and transport. Mr Dempsey was convicted and fined $120,000 in those proceedings.
‘This is an important outcome in a disturbing case. The public should trust that when they are told they are seeing an occupational therapist they are indeed being treated by a registered practitioner. The Board will not tolerate such disregard for National Law and patient safety,’ Occupational Therapy Board of Australia Chair Julie Brayshaw said.
Physiotherapy Board of Australia Chair Kim Gibson said: ‘Public trust and protecting the most vulnerable people in the community is paramount. This matter is upsetting and the Board is pleased with this conviction.’