25 May 2023
From fake physiotherapists working in aged care homes, to unqualified dentists removing teeth, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has now completed 100 criminal prosecutions to protect the public.
Ahpra’s first criminal prosecution was finalised in January 2014 when a West Australian woman was sentenced to a $20,000 fine for claiming to be a registered psychologist. Since then, Ahpra has prosecuted matters throughout Australia with the most in Victoria and NSW.
Alexander Gigney became Ahpra’s 100th criminal prosecution yesterday when he pleaded guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to working unsupervised as a pharmacist for 17 months without any registration. Mr Gigney previously held provisional registration as a pharmacist but did not renew his registration when it expired, despite continuing to work full time in a pharmacy. The Court fined him $1,200 and also placed him on an 18-month community corrections order requiring 42 hours of unpaid community work.
‘Holding out’ cases, where someone is pretending to be registered when they are not, dominated the prosecution list. Some of the most serious individual matters include:
False or misleading advertising has also kept Ahpra busy. Hance Limboro was convicted of 13 charges in relation to false, misleading and deceptive claims such as that chiropractic treatment can prevent cancer. He was fined a total of $29,500.
Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said the 100th prosecution is a significant moment for the organisation.
‘Pretending to be registered when you’re not is a profound breach of trust with the public. We take these matters seriously and will continue to take strong action to ensure public safety,’ Mr Fletcher said.
Professor Tina Cockburn, from the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), said such work is vital to maintain public trust in those we need to care for us and our loved ones.
‘The community places a great deal of trust in health professionals. We rely on care providers to be competent to provide safe treatment and truthful advice,’ Prof Cockburn said.
‘Ahpra’s important work prosecuting 100 cases holds offenders to account and deters non-compliance. This is critical to maintain public trust in safe and effective healthcare.’
Many of the most serious matters from the past 100 cases occurred before the National Law change in 2019.
From 1 July 2019, offenders face the possibility of a maximum term of three years imprisonment per offence. They also face an increase in the maximum fines from $30,000 to $60,000 per offence for an individual and from $60,000 to $120,000 per offence for a corporate entity.
Below are details and key moments from Ahpra’s 100 criminal investigations.
Nursing and Midwifery
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
(Please note, this will not add up to 100 as some advertising cases involve multiple categories):
First (and only) sentence of ‘imprisonment’ - Zhi Sin Lee – medical student who failed her final exams, worked as an intern at a hospital despite not being registered. Initially sentenced to two years Intensive Corrections Order (imprisonment to be served in the community), with an additional fine of $10,000. Reduced on appeal to 18 months ICO, fine confirmed at $10,000.
Fines range from $127,500 (highest) to $2,000 (lowest) where imposed.
Average fine (where fine imposed): $16,542
Other penalties imposed:
Type of offence
Wellness Enterprises Pty Ltd t/a Australian Male Hormone Clinic
Advertising - creating unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
Dempsey, Michael Sylvester
Claims as to registration – others
Unqualified practitioner/fake; Aged care
Anwar, Mohamad Faizel Bin Mohamad
Claims as to registration - self
Use of specialist title - self
Restricted dental act
(No media statement issued due to mental health issues)
Claims as to registration – self
Use of protected title – self
Young, Albert Joshua
Claims as to registration – self
The Running Clinic (Australia) Pty Ltd
Advertising - creating unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment;
Advertising - false, misleading or deceptive
Claims as to registration - person
Use of protected title - person
Acharya, Shyam (aka Sarang Chitale)
Restricted dental act - not specified
(prosecuted for subsequent offending – this excludes individuals prosecuted in more than one state as a result of one investigation)
Type of offending
(No media statement published )
Restricted optometry act
Citer, David Adam
Schedule 6 - false or misleading documents to an inspector
Use of protected title – person
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