Yesterday the HEALTH LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2013 was introduced to the New South Wales parliament that aims to close a loophole that was used by the Australian Vaccination Network in 2012 to overturn a decision made by the Health Care Complaints Commission.
The AVN sued the HCCC for issuing a public warning against them back in 2010 and successfully argued that the investigation carried out by the HCCC was invalid because the complaint that lead to the investigation came from someone who was not directly harmed as a result of the AVNs false medical advice. Under the current legislation the HCCC could only investigate a complaint if the complainant has suffered as a direct result of the incorrect medical advice, assuming the victim survives and is willing to jump through the necessary hoops.
This amendment aims to close this loophole so that a complaint may be filed against a health service provided it can be shown that the service it is likely to cause harm to someone. It will no longer be necessary to prove that a person has been harmed in order to conduct an investigation.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner had this to say in parliament:
As members will be aware, the Health Care Complaints Act established the Health Care Complaints Commission as an independent body to assess, investigate and prosecute complaints against health practitioners and health service providers. However, a 2012 Supreme Court decision, Australian Vaccination Network Inc. v Health Care Complaints Commission, has led to a limitation on when the Health Care Complaints Commission can investigate matters affecting public health or safety. The structure of the Health Care Complaints Act means the Health Care Complaints Commission has jurisdiction to investigate a matter only when a valid complaint has been made. Section 7 of the Act sets out whom a complaint can be made about and this list includes health service providers. However, the recent case in the Supreme Court found the Health Care Complaints Commission can investigate only if the complaint shows that the health service in question affects the clinical management or care of an individual client.
The judgement has created significant concern that a complaint cannot be investigated by the Health Care Complaints Commission if the matter raises a real likelihood of impacting on public health or safety: There must be a specific case where an individual client is affected, thereby limiting the capacity of the Health Care Complaints Commission to act in the public interest. The bill therefore amends section 7 of the Health Care Complaints Act to make clear that a complaint can be made against a health service if the health service affects, or is likely to affect, the clinical management or care of an individual client. –NSW Parliament Transcript, Page 60
So in suing the Health Care Complaints Commission the Australian Vaccination Network has opened the door to allow all Alternative “Medicine” practitioners in New South Wales to come under the HCCC’s scrutiny. Any false information that’s likely to cause harm to another person’s health is now in the firing line.
Talk about shooting yourself (and your friends) in the foot.