Universal Medicine may have to answer to AHPRA
THE NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) has called on AHPRA to investigate an alternative medicine group after complaints alleged its founder, former tennis coach Serge Benhayon, claimed he could help prevent cancer despite having no medical qualifications.
Universal Medicine, based in northern NSW, claims it has up to 2000 followers, mostly women. Its critics have branded the group a “cult” that encourages its followers to stop eating most food and doing most exercise and is responsible for a number of wrecked marriages and other relationships. Universal denies the allegations.
The organisation, whose services include “esoteric breast massage” and ovarian readings, was recently forced by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to pull down advertisements of complementary products sold via its website, following inquiries by MO.
The HCCC did not respond to MO’s request for comment on its decision to refer the complaints to AHPRA but told one complainant “the commission considers that there are important issues in your complaint that can best be addressed by the relevant health professional council or organisation”.
“As [your] complaint relates to the conduct of a non-registered practitioner, the commission has decided to refer your complaint to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency for further management,” the HCCC wrote to the complainant.
MO understands that the HCCC would typically refer a complaint about a non-registered practitioner to AHPRA if it believed the substance of the complaint was about possible “holding out” as a registered practitioner.
An AHPRA spokesperson said they would not comment on an individual complaint but “it is unacceptable under the national law to give the impression that you are a registered practitioner if you are not”. Comment was being sought from Universal.