Readers who have been following the health professional news about the new AHPRA Advertising Guidelines are invited to sign this Change.org petition, which petitions AHPRA to remove Section 6.2.3 from the Advertising Guidelines. SIGN HERE
By way of reminder ... from the Advertising Guidelines:
6.2.3 TestimonialsFor more about this part of the Guideline, go to Birth Stories.
Section 133 of the National Law states:
(1) A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that –
(c) Uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business
It has occurred to me that even Birth Notices that were very popular in the past, when we all read the daily newspaper, could have breached AHPRA's extremely narrow interpretation of 'testimonial'. [I think social media has replaced the Birth Notices column in the newspaper!]
In discussing Birth Stories within the (relative) sanctuary of a closed facebook group for eligible midwives, one midwife expressed the opinion that " birth stories belong to women, and [I] do not see why midwives feel they have to publish them, and think they could be construed as advertising if published in midwives' own space."
Time will tell!
Yes, birth stories do belong to women - and if you can show me a birth story that focuses on the midwife and appears to have a purpose or intention to promote (/advertise) that midwife's practice, then perhaps it could be called a testimonial.
The guideline says "Testimonials can distort a person’s judgment in his or her choice of health practitioner."
The overarching purpose of regulation of health professionals is the protection of the public. Protection of the public from rogue or negligent or incompetent professionals and the like. Protection of the public from charlatans and snake oil sellers who would deceive and manipulate unsuspecting potential clients.
The scope of the midwife who works in primary maternity care, and the leading theme in birth stories, is natural, unmedicated, unmanaged, (sometimes noisy, sometimes messy, always unpredictable) birth. Natural childbirth is unique in the spectrum of health care: it requires the woman to do *it* herself! There are no shortcuts, no special breathing techniques, no therapies, no magic words or products to be bought, that make natural childbirth better than it already is.
It seems to me that AHPRA is looking for a broad brush that covers every possibility in regulated health. I don't think AHPRA is necessarily targeting midwives in the 'patient stories' part of the guideline.
In conclusion (for now), I support the AHPRA ACTION campaign, and have signed the petition calling for the removal of Section 6.2.3.
The National Law, which prohibits the use of testimonials in advertising the service or business of a regulated health professional, continues. The onus in this matter must be for AHPRA to demonstrate that the statement (comment - positive or negative - that identifies a regulated health professional on social media, midwife's website, YouTube video, or newspaper Birth Notice) must be shown to be advertising the practitioner or the service in order for it to be called a testimonial.
An excellent series of blog posts about 'social media' by Geraldton WA GP Dr Edwin Kruys provide more argument and comment, particularly from the medical practitioner's point of view. You can follow Dr Kruys on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EdwinKruys.
Note: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer, Joy Johnston.
Your comments are welcome.