Nov 4, 2018

Consumers need protecting from UM: Health experts

JASMINE BURKE
The Northern Star
November 1, 2018

IN THE wake of the defamation case involving Lismore-based Universal Medicine, members of Friends Of Science In Medicine said the organisation was considering firing a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) in order to "protect consumers” against illegitimate claims by the "non-scientific” based service.

A NSW Supreme Court jury recently found in a defamation case against blogger Esther Rockett, that UM leader Serge Benhayon was the "leader of a socially harmful cult”.

FSM president and UNSW Emeritus Professor John Dwyer said: "As the judgment came down in the court case the obvious thing for me as a president in Friends Of Science In Medicine...was to say Serge Benhayon and his acolytes should not be allowed to offer clinical services to patients for money given the criticism and the total demolition of any credibility as legitimate dealers.”

"The question is 'How can consumers be protected further from the harm the jury agreed this cult was doing?', and I think for non-registered health practitioners the instrument we have in NSW is the HCCC (Health Care Complaints Commission).

"My suggestion and feeling is they would be the first port of call to look into this and study carefully what happened in the court case and to decide whether a prohibition order should be issued to Benhayon to stop offering clinical services. If that was the case that would be extended to the acolytes he has trained.”

Prof Dwyer said concern lay with vulnerable people, especially those with "nasty illnesses”.

"My bottom line is having heard all the information on the totally unacceptable care being offered, the next step is protecting consumers from this group.”

The Northern Star has contacted HCCC and UM but neither responded before deadline.

Health Professionals Reform Association (HPARA) also noted the findings of the recent case in the NSW Supreme Court and chairman and director John Stokes said: "Any other provided health care and especially any care that is based on a mystical understanding of energy, spirits and any strange modalities of healing does not deserve acceptance and definitely does not deserve to be worthy of recognition”.

The directors of HPARA are science-based health professionals who represent HPARA members registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

"Some members of Universal Medicine, an organisation unknown to HPARA at the time, joined the membership of HPARA, became for a short period involved in HPARA's committee structure and also became involved at HPARA national meetings,” Mr Stokes said.

He said it was their view that all health care needs to be scientifically based.

"Several of these members of Universal Medicine were registered with AHPRA.

"When these facts became known to HPARA the directors of HPARA used its constitution to ensure that HPARA concentrated on the aim for reform and remained a separate independent entity with no links at all to Universal Medicine.

"There were never any members of Universal Medicine on the HPARA Board and no current directors are members or have been members of Universal Medicine.

"All directors are foundation members of HPARA. Our committee structure has no members of Universal Medicine.
"We believe there are no members of HPARA who belong to Universal Medicine. Those that we knew to be, or we believed were members of Universal Medicine have not renewed membership of HPARA.

"All suspect and bizarre claims should be subject to rigid scientific analysis and query. Belief is not science. Healthy scepticism is our society's protection from such false prophets.

"HPARA remains steadfast in its intent to have true reform of registration and regulation by AHPRA so that all health professionals enjoy the right to procedural fairness, assumption of innocence, and prompt examination and resolution of notifications.

"The process of undergoing an examination of a notification to AHPRA should be conducted in a non- threatening and a just manner. Dishonest notifications should be considered
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