MIGA continues to receive enquiries from clients that relate to issues with advertising. Often these are triggered by complaints from patients or colleagues.
Websites and social media have become a significant part of business advertising and it is important that you satisfy yourself that you understand the regulations set down under the National Law and that you are not in breach of it.
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law expressly states in section 133(1):
“A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that…(c) uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business…”
AHPRA’s Guidelines for Advertising Regulated Health Services (May 2014) state: ¹
The National Law does not define ‘testimonial’, so the word has its ordinary meaning of a positive statement about a person or thing. In the context of the National Law, a testimonial includes recommendations or statements about the clinical aspects of a regulated health service.
The National Law ban on using testimonials means it is not acceptable to use testimonials in your own advertising, such as on your Facebook page, in a print, radio or television advertisement, or on your website. This means that:
- You cannot use or quote testimonials on a site or in social media that is advertising a regulated health service, including patients posting comments about a practitioner on the practitioner’s business website, and
- You cannot use testimonials in advertising a regulated health service to promote a practitioner or service.
Health practitioners should therefore not encourage patients to leave testimonials on websites health practitioners control that advertise their own regulated health services, and should remove any testimonials that are posted there.
Case studies and birth stories
Case studies (written by the midwife) and birth stories (written by clients) can provide valuable messages and insights for potential and current clients. If you incorporate these into your advertising (website, Facebook) it is recommended that you review the entries for any possible breaches of the National Law.
How AHPRA deals with breaches and penalties
The Nursing and Midwifery Board will issue an escalating series of written warnings to the midwife, initially reminding them of their obligations in relation to advertising. If no corrective action is taken, the Board may ultimately take legal action against them for non-compliance with the Board’s standards. This may include limiting, suspending or cancelling a midwife’s registration and their ability to practise.
A registered health practitioner, or a business providing a regulated health service, whose advertising breaches the National Law, may be liable to pay a $5,000 penalty (for an individual) or $10,000 (for a corporation).
If anything you do in your practice constitutes ‘advertising’, we recommend you:
- Make yourself familiar with the guidelines
- Review all your advertising (particularly websites)
- Satisfy yourself that you comply
- Call a solicitor in MIGA’s Claims and Legal Services team if you aren’t sure or would like guidance.
|Midwifery insurance renewal
In early May all midwives will receive a Change of Details Form that will enable you to update your details prior to renewal of your insurance on 1 July 2016. The Change of Details Form will contain pre-populated personal and practice details from our database at the time of printing.
You will also be provided the opportunity to streamline your renewal by establishing a direct debit payment from either your bank account or credit card at no additional cost to you.
If your annual invoice is above $1,000 you can also pay by monthly instalments at no extra charge.
Refer to our article on direct debit in this Bulletin for more details.
We encourage you to review the Change of Details Form and direct debit payment option and update us with any changes by completing and returning the Forms. If you require any assistance please don’t hesitate to contact either Ros Hoffmann or Lynda Slessor on 1800 777 156.