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Bowing to the voice of the people: Medical Board of Australia takes a dose of its own medicine

16 Feb 2021 4:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

People power has been victorious after a massive response to proposed changes aiming to specifically regulate medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. 


Under the significant weight of 13,000 public submissions, proposed MBA changes have been withdrawn.

MBA withdraws 

Medical Board of Australia (MBA), which oversees all doctors' regulation, proposed clearer rules around complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments calling for tighter regulations in 2019. "Additional safeguards to protect patients," were called for by the MBA who stated that "while some treatments may be beneficial, others may be unnecessary or expose patients to serious side effects." 


But health professionals and the public disagreed strongly. Consumers were encouraged to respond to the MBA, and under the significant weight of 13,000 submissions over the six-month consultation period, the proposed changes have been withdrawn. 


Both health professionals and the public were alarmed at the proposed guidelines. Health professionals feared that they would be banned from prescribing vitamins, nutritional supplements, and other therapies and that complementary medicines would be amalgamated with unconventional and emerging treatments, which are not the basis of the vast majority of integrative doctors' practise. The public reacted strongly to the potential of having their autonomy of choice in healthcare removed.  


Australians trust complementary medicines 

Carl Gibson is CEO of Complementary Medicines Australia, the peak body representing Australia's world-class complementary medicines industry. He said: "Over 70 per cent of Australians favour a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing – they trust and use complementary medicines in both prevention and treatment strategies to safeguard wellbeing." 


Food, exercise, and other lifestyle factors are the mainstay of good health but so are micro- and macronutrients, attention to gut health, the microbiome and more: these contribute to the majority of Australians' chosen holistic wellness approaches. 


"I am delighted that common sense wins out in this decision to withdraw these flawed proposals, and that people power has made an enormous difference,” said Gibson.  


High-risk practice is not confined to one area of medicine 

Medical Board Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said the consultation was robust and the submissions shed light on both the issues and the possible solutions. 


"It is clear from the consultation that there is no simple equation linking areas of practice with risk to patients, and that high-risk practice is not confined to one area of medicine," Dr Tonkin said. 


The proposed solution did not match the problem

"In effect, the solution we had proposed did not match the problem we were trying to solve and the labels we used – complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments – were not helpful in defining the level of risk posed to patients," ended Dr Tonkin. 


For more information,

Complementary Medicines Australia, Ravinder Lilly, 0418928756,email:  

Australasian Integrative Medicine Association, Cressida Hall,  0414 607 079, email:


Medical Board of Australia - Board responds to consultation on complementary medicine 

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