Navigating cancer treatment and care can be confusing and overwhelming. It’s vital we have robust systems in place to prevent unscrupulous providers preying on vulnerable people.
“Most healthcare providers in Victoria do offer good, evidence-based care, and complementary therapies in consultation with treating clinicians can be beneficial for patients,” said Hayley Jones, Director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer.
“However, some providers have been known to make false claims about life-prolonging cancer treatments, without evidence, and often at great financial cost to people who are desperate for a cure.”
The Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) resolves complaints about healthcare and the handling of health information in Victoria. It can also investigate and take action against providers who pose a risk to public health and safety.
Victoria’s Health Complaints Act explicitly prohibits people offering health services from claiming that they can cure cancer or other terminal illnesses and requires that any claims they make in relation to treating or alleviating the symptoms of cancer be substantiated.
The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer worked for this legal protection after a series of high-profile cases highlighted the need for greater protections against fake cancer claims.
Over the years, the HCC has taken action against several providers who claimed to treat or cure cancer through unproven therapies such as supplements, topical treatments and therapeutic devices. In some cases, these providers would also discourage clients from using conventional, evidence-based cancer therapies.
“There is a robust system in place to deal with providers making fake cancer claims. But the HCC needs people to report issues so they can investigate them and stop other vulnerable people from similar bad experiences,” Hayley said.
The HCC also provides education and resources to help people resolve health complaints. This includes a list of ‘tips for making a complaint yourself’ and a complaint letter template to help you address the issue directly with your health provider before lodging a complaint with the HCC.
Cancer Council Victoria and the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer will continue to work with the HCC to ensure all Victorians affected by cancer have access to safe, effective, quality treatments and care.
If you are concerned about a cancer treatment or provider, you can contact the HCC via its website. A complaint can be lodged by a patient, family, friend or health professional.
Visit the Health Complaints Commissioner website