Nurses and midwives have been warned they will be investigated and punished if they preach or share “false or misleading” anti-vaccination messages.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s new statement on the issue also urges patients and colleagues to dob in those promoting dangerous anti-vaccination views in blatant disregard for health authority protocols.
“The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and AHPRA take their responsibility of public protection very seriously, and will take regulatory action on nurses or midwives who promote anti-vaccination statements to patients and the public.”
The NMBA said it was aware of “a small number of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives who are promoting anti-vaccination statements … which contradict the best available scientific evidence”.
“Any published anti-vaccination material and/or advice which is false, misleading or deceptive which is being distributed by a registered nurse, enrolled nurse or midwife … could result in prosecution.”
Chair of the NMBA, Dr Lynette Cusack said, ‘The NMBA is taking this opportunity to make its expectations about providing advice on vaccinations clear to registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives. With no exceptions we expect all registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives to use the best available evidence in making practice decisions. This includes providing information to the public about public health issues.’
All registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives are required to practise in accordance with professional standards set by the NMBA, including the codes of conduct, codes of ethics and the standards for practice, in particular the social media policy and the guidelines for advertising regulated health services.
‘As trusted health professionals, nurses and midwives, play a key role in helping people make decisions about their healthcare. The Board’s statement makes clear its expectations of nurses and midwives when providing advice about vaccinations, ‘Dr Cusack said.
Melbourne midwife Belinda Henkel, who is under Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority-imposed practising restrictions and required to undertake re-education, yesterday told The Daily Telegraph she would not remove anti-vaccination information from her professional Facebook page.
“No, f … them,” Ms Henkel said. “I’m not removing anything that I’ve got on the site but I’ve agreed to acquiesce to AHPRA’s request and I have said that I will give unequivocal support to the vaccination regime that we have.”
Asked if she believed in the safety of vaccines, Ms Henkle said: “I can’t answer that question.”
Anyone with concern about a registered health practitioner should contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.
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