The state’s health watchdog has been given the power to shut alternative health clinics, including naturopaths and chiropractors, for not complying with its code of conduct, as data shows an increasing number of complaints being made by patients.
Powers that came into effect this month expand the role of the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) to allow it to issue a prohibition order against an entire clinic, rather than just an offending practitioner.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the new rules, part of the Public Health Regulation 2022, would better protect patients in a growing area of health services.
“These changes enable the HCCC to use their powers to prohibit health organizations from operating where they pose a risk to the health or safety of the public,” he said.
“This is an important, additional step that enables the HCCC to take firm action to protect the community from health organizations which blur the rules and do not provide services in a safe and ethical way.”
While individual practitioners were already required to abide by a state code of conduct, the new regulation introduced a similar code – requiring infection control processes, as well as duties to operate in a safe and ethical way – for health organisations.
The HCCC will have the power to issue a prohibition order to clinics offering services such as massage therapy, naturopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic and other alternative healthcare not complying with the code.
Its new power does not extend to public health organizations, aged care services and licensed private health facilities.
“[These services] are already governed by other legislation that ensures quality assurance, and as such the HCCC is not responsible for taking action against these entities,” the minister’s office said in a statement.