When is a Wellness Service not a Wellness Service?
When is a wellness service not a wellness service? When it is a health service- let me explain!
With the rise of alternative treatments, new age therapies and a burgeoning health and wellness sector, consumers have more choice than ever and possibly more risk than ever.
In Australia 14 health disciplines are controlled by a system of registration under the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency, AHPRA. These include
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice
- Chinese Medicine
- Medical Radiation Practice
- Nursing and Midwifery
- Occupational Therapy
AHPRA’s primary objective, working with 14 national health practitioner boards, is to ensure the protection of the public. AHPRA can take regulatory action when they receive a notification (complaint) about individual registered health practitioners to ensure patient safety.
But many other health professions currently fall outside of this system such as
- Speech Pathology
- Dietetics and
- Exercise Physiology
As do other health and wellness disciplines such as
- Massage therapy
- Reflexology and
On 14 March 2013 The Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners was established and it relates to health practitioners who are not within the ambit of AHPRA. The Code requires health practitioners to comply with the code and and display certain information where they practise. It establishes
1. A range of minimum standards for unregistered health practitioners
2. Additional powers to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner if an unregistered health practitioner is found to have breached the Code.
According to The Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (SA) website
“The Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner has been approached by a number of service providers requesting information about the Code of Conduct for unregistered health practitioners and whether it applies to the services they provide."
In responding to such queries, service provider’s attention is drawn to the definition of the Health and Community Services Complaints Act (2004). That definition says in part that:
Health service means a:
- Service designed to benefit or promote human health; or
- Service provided in association with the use of premises for the care, treatment or accommodation of persons who are aged or who have a physical disability or mental dysfunction; or
- Diagnostic or screening service; or
- Ambulance service; or
- Service to treat or prevent illness, injury, disease or disability; or
- Service provided by a health professional; or
- Service involving the provision of information relating to the promotion or provision of health care or health education; or
- Social, welfare, recreational or leisure service if provided as part of a health service; or
- Administration service directly related to a health service.
Whilst the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner is not authorised to provide legal binding advice, the Commissioner suggests that any provider who is supplying services that are consistent with the definition, and where a reasonable person, could reasonably claim that they are seeking and receiving health services, then the Code applies to that practice.
In the Commissioner’s view services such as those provided by counsellors, massage therapists, homeopaths, iridologists, naturopaths, reflexologists and Reiki healers are just a small number of examples of unregistered health service providers.
Therefore, when is a "wellness service" not a “wellness service”, is when it is a “health service” and when the practitioner needs to comply with the Code of Conduct for Unregistered Health Practitioners.