19 May 2018

Alternative therapist under investigation for false cancer cure

Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack said the 12-week interim prohibition order against Dennis Wayne Jensen was issued to protect the public while a full investigation was carried out.

“I don’t issue these orders lightly but I am satisfied that this was necessary in this case to avoid a serious risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public,” Ms Cusack said.

The own-motion investigation was launched following a third-party complaint claiming Mr Jensen used the painful and ineffective black salve treatment on a cancer patient over a prolonged period until her death.

Black salve is a controversial and widely-discredited alternative cancer treatment using a topical paste, which essentially burns and destroys large parts of the skin and underlying tissue and leaves behind significant scarring or worse.

Mr Jensen received the ban under the general code of conduct that applies to all health service providers outside the national registration scheme, including alternative therapists.

This code prohibits general health service providers from making claims to cure cancer or other terminal illnesses, or making unsubstantiated claims to alleviate the symptoms of terminal illnesses. The code also requires general health service providers to recognise the limitations of their treatments and refer clients to other competent health service providers if appropriate. It is a breach of the code to dissuade a person from seeking or continuing medical treatment.

“Dangerous and unethical practitioners who prey on the desperation and vulnerability of cancer-sufferers or others suffering terminal illnesses, won’t be tolerated,” Ms Cusack said. “It’s exactly these types of cases that we were given our new powers to investigate and to take action.”

The general code of conduct contained in the Health Complaints Act 2016 closed the gap in regulation for healthcare where alternative practitioners could not be held accountable for using unproven, ineffective and often dangerous, cancer treatments or supposed ‘cures’.

If you have quality or safety concerns about an alternative therapist, or any other health service in Victoria, contact us on 1300 582 113.