Medical board’s online fine backflip

Under the recent directive, due to come into effect on 17 March, practitioners faced a $5000 fine for not requesting the removal of unsolicited online reviews of their clinical services. 

GPs reacted angrily to the move, claiming it amounted to censorship of freedom of speech.

But MBA chair, Dr Joanna Flynn, has now said the policy was only ever intended to apply to proactive advertising or promotion of a regulated health service.

“There is a clear difference between advertising, which requires an intent to promote the health services, and unsolicited online comment over which practitioners do not usually have control,” she said.

The law prohibits the use of testimonials in advertising a regulated health service, which means a service provided by, or usually provided by, a registered health practitioner.

The MBA said the clearest examples of breaches occurred when practitioners used testimonials in print or