14 Dec 2023
A Gold Coast woman who falsely claimed that she was a registered nurse to a business partner and a stakeholder, was today convicted after pleading guilty in the Magistrates’ Court of Queensland.
Sonya Whitestyles, who holds no nursing qualifications, ran an ‘integrative medicine’ service that claimed to help patients by reviewing their blood samples and offering IV (intravenous fluids) infusions, supplements and other medication to balance their levels of vitamins, minerals and hormones.
Ms Whitestyles falsely claimed to be a registered nurse to medical practitioners and a pharmacy so she could recruit their help in gaining access to prescription medications.
Ms Whitestyles was recently sentenced to prison and a term of probation after the District Court of Queensland convicted her of three counts of fraud. Those charges were prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and concerned Ms Whitestyles misleading medical practitioners and patients in the course of running her ‘integrative medicine’ business.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s (Ahpra) charges were for related offending, where Ms Whitestyles held herself out to a medical practitioner, and also to a pharmacist, to try to keep her business operating.
Ahpra and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia work together to protect the public by ensuring only registered nurses and midwives who are suitably qualified and fit to practise can claim to be registered.
Today, Ms Whitestyles pleaded guilty and was sentenced at the Southport Magistrates’ Court for two charges of holding herself out as a registered nurse in breach of the National Law1.
Magistrate Bamberry convicted Ms Whitestyles and ordered she not be further punished, in light of her recent sentence in the District Court for related offending.
Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said the community rightly expects the health practitioners they see to have the necessary qualifications and experience and that they are registered with the appropriate National Board.
’Protecting the public is paramount, and we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who falsely claims to be registered,’ Mr Fletcher said.
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, said holding registration is how we ensure the public are being cared for by competent and qualified practitioners.
’There is special trust that people place in their nurses and it’s important we ensure this trust is met. Anyone who claims to be a registered nurse must be registered with the NMBA. This is crucial for protection of the public and maintaining the reputation of the profession,’ Adj Prof Casey said.
Consumers can ‘be safe first’ by checking out information on the Ahpra website, visit: www.ahpra.gov.au/besafefirst.
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