Public Statement and Statement of Decision in relation to Mrs Barbara O'Neill

24 September 2019

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission conducted an investigation into the professional conduct of Mrs Barbara O’Neill, an unregistered practitioner who provides services as a naturopath, nutritionist and health educator.

The complaints under investigation alleged that Mrs O’Neill makes dubious and dangerous health claims regarding infant nutrition, causes and treatment of cancer, antibiotics and vaccinations that are not evidence based or supported by mainstream medicine.

Some of the non-evidence based comments made in Mrs O’Neill’s publications include:

  • In relation to infant nutrition – raw goat’s milk is an appropriate substitute for breast milk
  • In relation to causes of cancer – cancer is a fungus that can be treated with bicarbonate soda
  • In relation to treatment of cancer – cancer can be cured by following a program that includes the cancer conquering diet and sodium bicarbonate wraps for the body
  • In relation to antibiotics – pregnant women diagnosed with Strep B do not have to take antibiotics
  • In relation to vaccinations – there are no safe vaccines; vaccinations have caused an epidemic of ADHD, autism, epilepsy and cot death

The Commission’s investigation found that Mrs O’Neill has limited qualifications in the area of nutrition and dietetics, which she attained more than 10 years ago. Mrs O’Neill has not taken any steps to maintain and enhance her knowledge and skills in her field of practice to deliver a professional service to the community. 

Of particular concern to the Commission is that Mrs O’Neill cannot recognise and provide health advice within the limits of her training and experience. Mrs O’Neill considers herself qualified to provide health advice in highly complex and specialised areas such as cancer treatment, use of antibiotics for Strep B and immunisation in circumstances where it is clear her knowledge is limited.

The Commission’s investigation found that Mrs O’Neill does not recognise that she is misleading vulnerable people (including mothers and cancer sufferers) by providing very selective information. The misinformation has huge potential to have a detrimental effect on the health of individuals as Mrs O’Neill discourages mainstream treatment for cancer, antibiotics and vaccinations.

On the basis of the above evidence the Commission found that Mrs O’Neill breached the  Code of Conduct for Unregistered Practitioners in that she:

  • Failed to provide a health service in a safe and ethical manner
  • Held herself out as able to cure cancer
  • Dissuaded clients from seeking or continuing treatment by a registered medical practitioner
  • Engaged in misinformation in relation to the services she provides
  • Failed to keep records of consultations

The Commission is satisfied that Mrs O’Neill poses a risk to the health or safety of members of the public. The Commission therefore makes the following prohibition order:

  • Mrs O’Neill is permanently prohibited from providing any health services, as defined in s4 of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 (the Act), whether in a paid or voluntary capacity.

For the purposes of this order ‘a health service’ carries the same meaning as defined under section 4 of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993.

The Commission will make the finalised Statement of Decision publicly available under section 41B(3)(c) of the Act.

The Commission has removed from this Statement of Decision material which it considers to be confidential information pursuant to section 41B(5) of the Act.

Further Information

Access the Commission's Statement of Decision here.

For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to media@hccc.nsw.gov.au.

The information in this media release is correct at the time of publication. Orders may change; for example, conditions may no longer apply. For current information regarding the status of a registered health practitioner, including any conditions that currently apply, please check the National Register at www.ahpra.gov.au.