Public Statement – Ms Frances Amaroux – Counsellor / Therapist – Permanent Prohibition Order
2 June 2022
The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (the Commission) conducted an investigation into the conduct of Ms Frances Amaroux. Ms Amaroux is a self-employed therapist who provides counselling services in and around Coffs Harbour NSW.
In her capacity as a counsellor Ms Amaroux is considered to be a non-unregistered health practitioner and subject to the Code of Conduct for non-registered health practitioners (the Code of Conduct) set out in Schedule 3 of the Public Health Regulation 2012.
The complaint concerned Ms Amaroux’s diagnosis and treatment of Patient A between October/November 2017 and November 2020. This included, but was not limited to, providing inappropriate advice, undermining Patient A’s decision making, diagnosing Patient A with a mental health condition without the relevant qualifications to do so and also without referring her to an appropriately qualified health provider, and acting in an intimidating and aggressive manner when Patient A informed her she wished to end her treatment.
The complaint further alleged that Ms Amaroux held herself out to be a psychologist via advertising on Google and failed to correct Patient A when she referred to Ms Amaroux as being a “psychologist.” The Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Authority (AHPRA) has confirmed Ms Amaroux is not currently a registered psychologist, nor has she even been registered as a psychologist.
The Commission is of the opinion that Ms Amaroux presents a risk to public health and safety in that vulnerable members of the public suffering from mental health conditions, who may be at risk of exploitation, may engage Ms Amaroux for counselling services and rely on the advice given by her, which may be detrimental to their mental health.
Ms Amaroux has also been convicted of offences relating to her non-compliance with statutory notices issued by the Commission, which hindered its ability to investigate this complaint.
The Commission also considers that Ms Amaroux lacks insight into the seriousness of the allegations made against her. Ms Amaroux has failed to meaningfully engage with the Commission, and she is of the opinion that the Commission’s powers as the independent health regulator in NSW do not apply to her.
Relying on the fact Ms Amaroux held herself out as a psychologist when she was not; the fact of her conviction for failure to assist or respond to the Commission during the course of the investigation; and the inability to conclude that the alleged misconduct relating to Patient A did not occur, the Commission determined that Ms Amaroux has breached the Code of Conduct for non-registered health practitioners set out in Schedule 3 of the Public Health Regulation 2012. The breaches relate to the following clauses of the Code:
- Clause 3(1) in that she failed to provide health services in a safe an ethical manner;
- Clause 3(2)(c) in that she provided a health service that she is not qualified to provide;
- Clause 3(2)(e) in that she prescribed treatment which did not serve the needs of the client;
- Clause 3(2)(f) in that she failed to recognise the limitations of the treatment she can provide and failed to refer the client to other competent health practitioners in appropriate circumstances;
- Clause 7(4) in that she failed to accept the right of the client to make informed choices in relation to their healthcare;
- Clause 10(4) in that she provided services and treatment to the client which were not designed to maintain or improve the client’s health and well-being.
- Clause 12(1) in that she engaged in misinformation in relation to her qualification, training or professional affiliations.
- Clause 12(2) in that she did not provide truthful information as to her qualification, when asked for information about those matters by a client.
The Commission also considers that Ms Amaroux poses a significant risk to the health and safety of members of the public.
Accordingly, the Commission makes the following prohibition order under section 41A (2)(a) of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993 (NSW) (the Act):
Ms Frances Amaroux is permanently prohibited from providing any health services in any capacity, either paid employment or voluntary.
For the purposes of this order, a ‘health service’ carries the same meaning as defined under section 4 of the Act.
If members of the public become aware that Ms Amaroux may be providing services in breach of this order, please contact the Commission with relevant details.
Access the Commission’s Statement of Decision here.
Access to the Commission's media release here.
For further information, contact the Executive Officer of the Health Care Complaints Commission, on 9219 7444 or send an email to email@example.com.
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