Anti-vaccination GP, Dr John PiesseI anticipate this post will get very long, so I have included a table of contents. Expect frequent updates to this page.
Table of Contents
- John Warren Piesse
- Melbourne, VIC
- Medical Practitioner AHPRA MED0001018633
- Consults from:
- Natural Healing Centre, Mitcham VIC
National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Hawthorn VIC
- Faculty member Australasian Institute for Medical Nutrition (AIMN)
Faculty member Australasian College of Medical Nutrition (ACMN)
- Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM)
This association was renamed the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) in 1985.
Troubles2001 to 2006
In 2001, Medicare Australia reported Piesse for charging long and prolonged consultations to Medicare, and also for requesting an abnormally high number of pathology tests. Refer article, GP accused of helping parents avoid vaccinations reprimanded 13 years ago (The Guardian, 25 Aug 2017). This case was finally determined in 2006.
From the Professional Services Review Report to the Professions 2005-2006: [emphases mine]
Dr John Warren Piesse
General Practitioner, Kew Vic.
Medicare Australia referred Dr Piesse on 18 December 2001 because it was concerned about his level of long and prolonged consultations and of pathology requests during 2000. That year he rendered 2,137 services to 707 patients at a total Medicare benefit of $87,570. His 1127 level C and long consultations (items 36 and 54) were 53 per cent of his total consultations, compared with 9.94 per cent for all active general practitioners in Australia.
His 530 level D and prolonged consultations (items 44 and 57) were 25 per cent of his total consultations, compared with 0.95 per cent for all active general practitioners in Australia. His 134 pathology requests for leucocyte antigens (item 71139) and his 42 requests for quantitation of metals (item 66668) were both above the 99th percentile (seven and eight such requests, respectively) for all active general practitioners in Australia.
A committee was established on 4 June 2002 and held hearings on 4-5 December 2002 and 9-10 and 21-22 January 2003, during which Dr Piesse initiated (ultimately unsuccessfully) interlocutory proceedings in the Federal Court seeking free transcript of the hearings.
The committee's final report on 23 March 2004 was that Dr Piesse had engaged in inappropriate practice in connection with item 44, 71139 and 66668 services.
Further details are on page 58 of the PSR Annual Report 2003-04.
Meanwhile, on 4 July 2003, the committee informed the Director, pursuant to section 106XA of the Act, that during the hearing it had concluded that Dr Piesse's conduct during 2000 caused a significant threat to the life or health of his patients. It was concerned that Dr Piesse failed to make appropriate investigations of patient symptoms of possibly serious conditions (such as cancer, meningitis, depression, anaemia) and that he used multiple 'Bforte' doses from one vial. On 4 July 2003 the Director referred this information to the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria.
The final determination on 6 August 2004 directed that Dr Piesse be reprimanded, counselled, repay Medicare benefits totalling $18,179, and be disqualified for 18 months from all group A1 services (items 1-51).
On 22 September 2004, one day before the determination took effect, Dr Piesse initiated further (second) proceedings inthe Court seeking (again) the transcript and review of the committee and Determining Authority findings. Dr Piesse raised the new issues of procedural fairness and constitutional validity of the legislation. After various directions hearings, amendments by Dr Piesse of his application, changes of his lawyers, and periods of self-representation, both applications were heard together by Gray J.
At that hearing, on 6 February 2006, Dr Piesse sought a further adjournment saying he had only received some documents very recently and, having spent about $100,000 on legal assistance during the committee hearings, wanted to get free legal advice from friends as he could no longer afford a solicitor. His Honour observed that the documents were simply responses to Dr Piesse's submissions and had been served in accordance with his timetable, there had already been many delays, and it was Dr Piesse's responsibility to be ready to run his case.
Dr Piesse expressed concern about a lack of nutritional and environmental medical expertise on the committee. When Dr Piesse said he wanted to obtain affadavits to demonstrate that the committee had made errors, his Honour pointed out that he could not retry the facts - only errors of law. He had to consider whether the committee performed its statutory function according to law. Professional medical judgements were for the committee. Further, the fact that the bulk of the of the medical profession, including the committee, apparently did not agree with the smaller group practicing complimentary [sic] medicine was not of itself evidence of bias.
Dr Piesse ultimately decided that he could not proceed without an adjournment to further prepare his case. His Honour was not prepared to adjourn again and offered Dr Piesse the option of having the matter determined on the existing papers. Dr Piesse decided to withdraw his applications. Both were then dismissed with costs awarded to the respondents.
The final determination took effect on 13 March 2006.
In reference to the above committee referring Piesse to the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria (later known as the Medical Board of Australia), it handed down its order on 9 May 2011. The conclusion states:
- We make the following determinations:
- Pursuant to section 77(4)(b) of the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 (Vic), Dr Piesse is cautioned to ensure that, from the date of the Tribunal's order onwards, the statutory declarations that he provides to the Medical Board of Australia pursuant to the determinations made by the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria on 3 May 2007 expressly state that he has 'not facilitated the administration of intravenous herbal infusions, genome therapies, and other therapies brought into the country by patients, unless the therapies have been specifically approved by the TGA (not as part of the Special Access Scheme)'.
- Pursuant to section 77(4)(c) of the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 (Vic), Dr Piesse is reprimanded.
- Pursuant to section 77(4)(d) of the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 (Vic), Dr Piesse is required to complete the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' Critical Thinking and Research Module within three months of the date of the Tribunal's order, at his own expense; and:
- Within 14 days of completion of the Critical Thinking and Research Module, Dr Piesse is to provide a statutory declaration to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) confirming that he has successfully completed the Critical Thinking and Research Module.
- If the Critical Thinking and Research Module for any reason becomes unavailable or is no longer provided, Dr Piesse is to notify the AHPRA upon becoming aware of such unavailability. The Victorian State Manager of the AHPRA shall nominate an alternative course of study, which is to be completed by Dr Piesse within three months of Dr Piesse receiving notice from the AHPRA of the alternative course of study.
In 2015 Piesse was reported to AHPRA for allegedly providing an alternative cancer treatment that nearly killed a patient (Herald Sun, 3 Mar 2015).
Anti-VaccinationDr John Piesse has held anti-vaccination views for decades. In this article, Vaccinations - A Health Hazard? (Sunday Herald Sun, 4 Apr 1993), Piesse claimed that parents were being given a false picture of vaccinations, stating "It's an absolute scandal, there is no examination of the risks and side-effects".
Piesse came under investigation in 2016 for handing out medical exemptions from vaccination like candy, with him describing the regulator as "the taliban" for its faith in immunisation. Refer article, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency investigating anti-vax doctor John Piesse (Herald Sun, 18 Aug 2016).
On 3 Aug 2017, at an AVN/Vaxxed event in Hawthorn, the audience was in for a treat. For the first time during this tour, health professionals openly offered their support to the anti-vaccination movement. Nerida James offered the services of Dr John Piesse and her Natural Healing Centre as follows:
"Hi, I'm Nerida James, naturopathy physician, chiro. I have a Natural Healing Centre where Dr Piesse works…"
"We can support you and we have been supporting about 600 families, thanks to Dr John Piesse."
[addressing the panel] "I think you might have met him today, he was at the seminar."
Shortly afterward, Dr Piesse addressed the audience, stating:
"I'm a doctor who's been working hard for 18 months to try and help parents get exemptions from No Vax No Play/No Vax No Pay, with mixed success. It's been quite a journey…"
"What I'd like you all to know that with No Vax No Play it is definitely possible for a doctor to write a letter of contraindication; there are a few loops and hoops but any doctor who wants to learn about it can contact some of the people at the AVN, such as Tasha, and then we can contact that doctor and explain what has to be done."
"It's also possible with No Vax No Pay… I'd like to let you know there's been a case where a parent got a letter of intention from a doctor that was not backed by, registered with the department and went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in NSW and challenged and won on appeal and had child support payments reinstated…"
"It's also possible - it's actually easier - for a doctor to get the No Vax No Play but the department is playing all sorts of games of deceit and harassment to try and stop this happening. For instance, I was told I didn't have the qualifications but we managed to extract in writing that, yes, I do have the qualifications and now they want to know my reasons. I don't have to give reasons because it's not required. In fact, it's a good idea not to because it's only just going to attract a lot of arguments and to-ing and fro-ing and questions, anxiety for the doctor. But so what I want you to know is, it is possible to get exemption with a doctor's letter of contraindication in the right form provided the doctor has the qualifications required by No Vax No Pay, or is a registered medical practitioner for No Vax No Play. So, there is hope."
As you can imagine, a GP openly advising people how to obtain (dodgy) medical exemptions generated keen media interest, and had politicians and authorities promising action will be taken. Media articles about Piesse's Hawthorn appearance are listed in my post AVSN: Vaxxed Tour 2017 media reports.
The article VACCINES ARE UNAVOIDABLY UNSAFE by Dr John Piesse was published by the
AVSN on 27 Aug 2017.
Piesse strongly promotes the (debunked) link between vaccines and autism, stating:
"So long as doctors and governments continue to be hood-winked into believing that vaccines that do not cause autism, no action will be taken to stop the alarming surge in the autism epidemic. A tragedy that need not happen if we demand good science and safe vaccines".
Let's now take a closer look at the partnership of Nerida James and Dr John Piesse to see how the plot thickens.
Church of Scientology (CoS)Nerida James is a high profile scientologist in Australia. She completed the highest level in the Church of Scientology, OT VIII, in 2002.
Also in 2002, Nerida James was listed in the Honor Roll of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), meaning that she had either donated at least $20,000 or had helped 20 people become members of the IAS.
In 2004 Nerida James was listed as a Founding Patron of the IAS, meaning that she had donated at least US $40,000 before Oct/Nov 2004.
Get Off Drugs Naturally / NarcononNarconon is the Church of Scientology's drug rehabilitation arm, setup by another Scientology company, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE). Narconon has a notorious reputation for its dangerous and non-evidence based treatments and is known as a predatory front for CoS because low-grade scientology teachings form part of the Narconon program.
Nerida James brought the Narconon program to Australia in 2001 under the brands Get Off Drugs Naturally (GODN) and Narconon Australia. Other names used to market these entities include "The Truth About Drugs", "Foundation for a Drug-Free World" and "Drug Free Ambassadors". Get Off Drugs Naturally is a registered charity with the ACNC. Nerida James is the President of Narconon Australia.
In 2013, Get Off Drugs Naturally (Australia) was awarded first prize for the most productive and expanding Narconon worldwide. Excerpt from the Natural Healing Centre Winter 2013 newsletter:
What's Happening at the Natural Healing Centre?
Nerida has just returned from the USA. She travelled to the Narconon Executive Directors Conference in Oklahoma City with Dallis and David, executives from Get Off Drugs Naturally who deliver the Narconon Program here in Australia.
They also travelled to Arrowhead, the largest Narconon worldwide, accommodating 300 students. In addition, Nerida attended a one week convention on Prosperity, Marketing and Management combined with a training course on Tools for Effective Leadership.
Whilst in the US, they accepted a first place award on behalf of Get Off Drugs Naturally for the Most Productive and Expanding Narconon worldwide.
- 2015: both GODN and Nerida James (President) are subject to a three year Enforceable Undertaking by Consumer Affairs Victoria for misleading or deceptive conduct and for false or misleading representations;  
- 2015: the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal rejected an appeal by GODN's parent company, Association for Better Living and Education, for a permit to build a new rehab facility in Warburton;
- 2011: CoS, Narconon and Get Off Drugs Naturally were all subjects of an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman;
- 2017: Get Off Drugs Naturally is being sued by a security company for unpaid debts.
I guess you are wondering by now where Dr John Piesse fits into all of this. Well, according to his own glowing testimonial, he has been a GP for Narconon Australia since it launched here in 2001:
[letter head - address shown is James' Natural Healing Centre]
Tuesday 20th August, 2013
To Whom It May Concern,
I have been associated through practice and visits to the centre with Get Off Drugs Naturally students and staff over the last 12 years.
During this time I have witnessed some remarkable results. The staff are dedicated and committed to assisting those with past substance abuse to regain their dignity and self esteem to achieve a more stable and trouble free lifestyle.
To any of those who would question the results and validity of the full Narconon program, I invite them to go and see for themselves and make an educated analysis.
I wish the Get Off Drugs Naturally Executives and Staff all the very best with their new venture and I offer continued support to all those seeking a better life.
[signed Dr John Piesse M.D.]
|Source: Get Off Drugs Naturally website http://www.getoffdrugs.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/John-Piesse-Endorsement.jpg|
GoFundMe page created by NHC Mitcham.
Shortly after media started reporting on the fundraiser, the creator of this gofundme changed from NHC Mitcham to "Dr P Fundraiser" and a statement was added to the page that neither Dr Piesse nor the Natural Healing Centre or its staff were responsible for creating it.
Piesse's statements that he was shocked and surprised at the fundraiser, along with the gofundme creator obviously having intimate details of Piesse's position, suggests otherwise.
I draw some amusement from this $100,000 fundraising target as it's the same amount that Piesse
claimed he expended on legal fees fighting the Medicare and subsequent Medical Board of Australia
The fundraiser has been going great guns so far, raising $70,000 in 3 days.
But not all is at seems with this fundraiser.
The good ol' Bait-and-SwitchLet's compare the fundraising description from when it commenced on 25 Aug to today (29 Aug):
|25 August 2017||29 August 2017|
Dr Piesse is a doctor of the people. He doesn't drive a Merc, nor does he take expensive skiing
holidays. In fact, he has very little.
That doesn't mean he's not busy helping patients. In fact, it can take months on a waiting list just to see him for the first time.
However, Dr Piesse is currently under investigation for supporting families of vaccine injured children - something which certainly isn't a lucrative thing to do, but a compassionate one.
Around $50,000 is required to help retain his registration in the short term.
Dr John Piesse is a doctor of the people. He doesn't drive a Merc. He doesn't take expensive skiing
holidays. In fact, he has very little.
He's also a busy doctor. He spends all of his time helping patients. In fact, it can take months on a waiting list, just to see him for the first time.
Many parents of vaccine-injured children (and parents of children with serious allergies) decide to wait for as long as it takes to see him, because they know he will listen and hear them out.
Dr Piesse is also a doctor who's currently under investigation. Why? He supports the families of vaccine-injured children. It's a compassionate thing to do, but certainly not a lucrative one.
This fundraiser is not only to help support Dr Piesse during a time of financial pressure, but also to use those funds to help with his research on the history of unvaccinated children in his practice.
Note the change of purpose from personal hardship and legal fees to now being used to further Piesse's private business practice.
Piesse first mentioned the funds possibly being used for his private business in a YouTube video published on 27 Aug 2017.
The description that accompanies this video at the time of writing states that $34,000 had
already been raised. That's $34,000 from supporters who in good faith donated in the belief they
were supporting hardship and legal expenses, not furthering Piesse's private business interests.
Update: 1 Sep 2017
Stop everything, folks, there is a possible scam in progress…
Why expect anything else other than lies and obfuscation from anyone connected with Scientology. Here's a brief outline of the deceitful and misleading statements that have been issued by the fundraiser organiser:
- Start of fundraiser:
- GoFundMe fundraising page shows creator as "NHC Mitcham", which would be Nerida James'
Natural Healing Centre where Dr Piesse works.
Purpose of fundraiser: to support Dr Piesse legally defending the AHPRA investigation and retain his registration.
- Fundraiser update #1
- We are informed Piesse knew nothing about the fundraiser.
- Fundraiser update #2
- Purpose of fundraiser: advised funds will also be used for Piesse to conduct research. Piesse confirms this in a video published 27 Aug.
- Main page change; organiser states:
- "This fundraiser was NOT created by Dr Piesse or the Natural Healing Centre. It was 100% established by patients and supporters…"
- Fundraiser update #6
- Purpose of fundraiser: changes yet again, reverting back to all funds to go toward legal defence.
Fundraiser organiser reiterates that the fundraiser was setup by patients of Dr Piesse.
- Fundraiser update #7
- Fundraising target increased from $100,000 to #200,000.
- Fundraising update #9
- Fundraiser organiser reiterates that the fundraiser was setup by patients of Dr Piesse.
Organiser explains that Natural Healing Centre appearing as receipt name was an 'error'.
[ed note: who here hasn't inserted some random business name as receipt name, I mean, come on]
Organisers state that the Natural Healing Centre "110% did not set this fundraiser up".
- A comment on the official fundraiser Facebook page 1 Sep 2017:
- "There's been a lot of speculation around the legitimacy of Dr Piesse's gofundme
campaign. I can now confirm I have spoken to the centre today and they reassured me that the
gofundme account and page is managed by the Natural Healing Centre (not patients) and all funds
have been received by Dr Piesse…"
As of yet, there has been no response to the above comment by the organiser.
Update: 4 Sep 2017
There is still no response from the organiser in regard to the above comment posted on the official Piesse fundraiser Facebook page, therefore I'm taking it as read that Nerida James/Natural Healing Centre is indeed operating this fundraiser.
This smells every bit as bad as the AVSN's High Court Challenge Scam, where we also saw changing targets and changing purposes for the raised funds.
The Piesse fundraiser stinks even more than the AVSN's as it was launched before it's been shown that legal action is even necessary, and with an initial target that was DOUBLE the legal estimate first mentioned. Worse still, the fundraising target is now FOUR TIMES the initial estimate.
This is how a non-scam, ethical fundraiser for legal fees should operate:
- only call for funds after legal advice states it is time to do so;
- initial target should be no higher than the estimate given by lawyer for the first stage;
- when initial target reached, fundraiser is closed/suspended;
- fundraiser only resumes after legal advice confirms that further legal action will be proceeding and, again, target should not be in excess of estimate for that stage.
- donated funds should be deposited directly into a trust account managed by the legal firm.
An open-ended fundraiser for legal fees where funds are paid directly to an individual is indistinguishable from a scam. There, I said it.
AHPRA Undertaking 31 Aug 2017Effective 31 August 2017, Dr John Piesse has agreed to an undertaking with AHPRA to cease practising as a medical practitioner. Excerpt from AHPRA registration for John Piesse
Dr John Warren Piesse [MED0001018633] provides the following undertaking to the Medical Board of Australia (the Board):
- I will not practise as a medical practitioner:
For the purpose of this undertaking, 'practise' is defined as any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a medical practitioner in their profession. It is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care and includes using the knowledge and skills of a medical practitioner in a direct non clinical relationship with a client, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the medical industry.
- I acknowledge and understand the definition of practise as outlined in this undertaking.
- I acknowledge that, for the purposes of monitoring compliance with this undertaking, AHPRA may conduct practice inspections and notify and/or seek information from relevant authorities
- I acknowledge that if the Board reasonably believes that I have failed to comply with this undertaking, it may take whatever action(s) is appropriate under Part 8 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
- In accordance with section 225 of the National Law I acknowledge that the public national register will record that this undertaking applies to my registration.
This undertaking raises a question about the validity of his GoFundMe fundraiser. One of the purposes stated for raising funds is to assist in research, but the AHPRA undertaking expressly forbids Piesse in participating in any research.
Update: 1 Sep 2017
The offial Facebook page for the Piesse fundraiser, "I stand with Dr Piesse", made the following Facebook post on 1 Sep 2017 which states:
"Media accounts are leading people to believe Dr. Piesse has agreed to stop practising. This is not correct. Dr. Piesse has agreed not to practice for a period of two weeks only, that is until further investigations can take place. This gives him the perfect opportunity to prepare his defence. #teampiesse #istandwithdrpiesse"
Update #10 to the GoFundMe page advises the following:
There is some confusion as to the current situation with Dr Piesse, so we just want to make it very clear.
Yesterday, Thursday 31 August, at a meeting of the Immediate Action Committee of the Victorian Board of the Medical Board of Australia, lawyers for Dr Piesse applied for an extension of time to better allow Dr Piesse to prepare a more comprehensive response to some of the issues raised by the complaints to AHPRA.
The Victoria Board agreed to defer the IAC hearing to but only if Dr Piesse agreed to stop practising for this period.
This means that Dr Piesse remains registered and that he can more effectively respond to the issues that have been identified.
Any other conflicting information you may hear is incorrect.
Help spread the word!
Media articlesFirst of all, allow me to correct the following assumptions that the media has run with:
- most reports describe the video that got Piesse in trouble as a 'secret video' or 'leaked footage'. This Q&A was livestreamed (i.e. published at the time of broadcasting) to four different social media accounts on three different platforms;
- Nerida James is described as being associated with and/or the President of a Narconon clinic in East Warburton, but fail to point out she is both the founder and Head Honcho of Narconon Australia (marketed here as 'Get Off Drugs Naturally' (GODN)). Nerida James is not listed as a Responsible Person for the charity GODN with the charity regulator;
- I've yet to see any evidence that Humphries was also banned from Australia, though early statements by Tommey certainly imply that she has been banned;
31 August 2017:
30 August 2017:
26 August 2017:
25 August 2017:
Anti-vax GP says his critical thinking skills are 'above average', Australian Doctor
24 August 2017:
A group of Melbourne doctors is under investigation [video], Today
Investigation into secret ring of doctors [video], 7 News Sydney
Vic anti-vaxx doctors 'must be stopped', The West Australian
Melbourne GP's investigated over anti-vaxx stance, Ten Eyewitness News
Vaxx Scandal [video], Ten Eyewitness News
23 August 2017:
Probe into secret cell of anti-vaxxer GPs, Herald Sun
1. [http://www.truthaboutscientology.com/stats/fw/freewinds47.html] ↵
2. [http://www.truthaboutscientology.com/stats/impact/impact-102-honor-roll.html] ↵
3. [http://www.truthaboutscientology.com/stats/impact/impact-109-patrons.html] ↵
4. [Get Off Drugs Naturally Foundation Inc and Dr Nerida James - Enforceable undertaking] ↵
5. [http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-11/scientology-drug-rehabilitation-centre-fined-for-misleading/6459716] ↵
6. [http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/unhappy-drug-detox-clinic-patients-demand-their-money-back/news-story/edac80489c5e6557434c3a88004c4a3c] ↵
7. [http://www.theage.com.au/national/church-of-scientology-rehab-centre-rejected-in-warburton-20150205-137mtc] ↵
8. [Statement of Findings: Church of Scientology, Narconon, and Get Off Drugs Naturally] ↵
9. [http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/scientologylinked-drug-rehab-centre-sued-over-150000-sniffer-dog-bills-20170404-gvd8en.html] ↵
Posted: 29 Aug 2017
Last update: 4 Sep 2017