The first criminal prosecution of an offence under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) was delivered earlier this year by the Magistrates Court of Western Australia. A former psychologist, who had not been registered for a number of years, was found guilty of continuing to use the title “psychologist” and fined $20,000.1
Under section 113 of the National Law, a person must not knowingly or recklessly take or use a protected title that would fool people into believing they were registered as a health professional in their stated profession. An individual found to be in breach can be fined a maximum of $30,000, whilst a body corporate can be fined up to $60,000.
The National Law defines “protected title” to include titles such as “chiropractor”, “dentist”, “medical practitioner”, “nurse”, “physiotherapist” and “psychologist”.
The judgement is a warning to all practitioners to ensure that their registrations are up-to-date and that upon retirement from practice or cancellation of their registration, they cease using their title and/or cease claiming to be a registered practitioner”, “nurse”, “physiotherapist” and “psychologist”.