Doctors call for ban on cult's false 'healing'
A BODY of medical professionals and scientists that lobbies for evidence-based medicine has called for a ban on Universal Medicine's "health" services.
Friends of Science in Medicine president and University of NSW Emeritus Professor John Dwyer said the group had complained to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), which oversees non-registered health professionals.
UM's founder, Serge Isaac Benhayon - a former tennis coach who has no medical qualifications - was found by a jury in the unsuccessful defamation case he brought against blogger Esther Rockett to be "the leader of a socially harmful cult".
The jury found to be true imputations that UM "engages in misleading conduct in promoting the healing services it offers", "makes false claims about healing that cause harm to others", has "false and harmful teachings" and "preys on cancer patients", among others.
Prof Dwyer said their complaint included details of about 20 non-registered, UM-linked practitioners.
"I'm hoping they're going to see the seriousness of this and the need to act," he said.
Prof Dwyer said their calls for a prohibition order on UM treatments were based on alleged breaches of the code of ethics the HCCC sets out for non-registered professionals.
"That code of ethics includes not lying to patients," Prof Dwyer said.
"What you're telling them must be evidence-based."
He said the complaint was a bid to "protect consumers from the pseudo-science".
A spokesman for the HCCC confirmed they had received a complaint, and it was not the first time UM had come to the commission's attention.
A 2014 HCCC committee found the commissioner was "aware of the activities of Universal Medicine and that he has received complaints concerning the treatments being offered".
Additionally, the Professional Standards Board last year found Goonellabah-based thoracic physician Samuel Kim guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct when he referred a patient to UM-affiliated esoteric practitioners.
With state health minister Brad Hazzard having banned NSW Health from having dealings with UM, and his Federal counterpart Greg Hunt having committed to write to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Authority - which oversees registered practitioners - Prof Dwyer was hopeful the HCCC would act.
"The regulatory authorities that are supposed to protect consumers ... have not covered themselves in glory in Australia," he said.
"They need to clean up their act. The HCCC should protect people from Universal Medicine."