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WA physiotherapist suspended for two months for practising while unregistered

14 Mar 2024

A Western Australian physiotherapist who failed to renew his registration and kept practising has been suspended for two months.

On 13 April 2023, the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (the Board) referred physiotherapist Mr Phillip Dee to the Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal (tribunal) for professional misconduct. It alleged that between 1 December 2019 to 30 June 2020, he undertook 179 consultations and used the protected title of 'physiotherapist' while unregistered. As he was unregistered, he also failed to meet the requirements for public indemnity insurance (PII) and therefore practised without valid PII during this period.

Mr Dee's registration expired on 30 November 2019. He received two auto-generated email reminders on 23 October and 23 November reminding him to renew his registration. He was sent an email on 3 December 2019 and a letter sent on 11 December 2019 advising him his registration was overdue and that he must renew in the 'late period' and pay a late fee to stay registered.

On 9 January 2020 he was sent a letter stating that since he had not renewed his registration, he was no longer registered and could no longer practise as a physiotherapist. On 30 June 2020, Ahpra instructed Mr Dee to cease practising as a physiotherapist immediately. Mr Dee ceased from this date.

During the tribunal proceedings, Mr Dee admitted to the conduct and expressed his regret. By way of mitigation, Mr Dee stated that he acknowledged the seriousness of his conduct and was frank with Ahpra about having practised without registration. Furthermore, that between February and June 2020, he had attempted to re-register however his applications were unable to be processed as he was outside of the grace period for late renewals and ineligible for the fast-track process. There were also issues with the certified documents he had provided to the Board. He also advised that between March and July 2019, he had received medical treatment for cancer and had closed his practice during this time, which had led to increased financial pressures in the period leading up to his failure to renew.

In making its decision, the tribunal was satisfied that Mr Dee's conduct met the threshold of professional misconduct. However, it did take into account his health and financial pressures when determining outcomes. The tribunal ordered he be reprimanded, suspended for two months from 1 January 2024, and undertake education on ethical practice and professional obligations. He was also ordered to pay Board costs to the amount of $3,500.

Read the full decision on the eCourts Portal of WA website

Page reviewed 14/03/2024