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Misty Mountain Health Retreat

And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
For the second week in a row there has been good news out of the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission as another naturopath, Barbara O'Neill,  has been given a lifetime ban on providing any sort of treatment. Finally, the acronym authorities are exerting their authority to shut down a quack and provide the protection to citizens that they are supposed to provide. There are still too many naturopaths and other charlatans out there, but remember that old cliché from Chairman Mao about a journey of a thousand miles and that first step.

To their credit, the HCCC has published not only the notice of the ban but the complete justification with all the evidence. This means that there is no way back for the naturopath – she's gone and gone forever.

It is interesting to see the sort of "education" and "experience" that someone can claim (without evidence) in order to fool potential customers. Mrs O'Neill claimed to have nursing experience but her last work as a nurse was as a trainee in 1976 (she never completed training). She claimed to have a Diploma in Naturopathy awarded in 1990 but the now-deceased "Thompsonian Institute" appears to have been a one man band that was never registered as any sort of training organisation. Similarly, her claim to have a Diploma in Nutrition & Dietetics is also linked to an extinct training organisation (with the hilarious name of ICANT) that existed for a while but was never registered to provide any sort of recognised training. It turns out that she doesn't even meet the requirements for membership of the naturopaths' social club, sorry, professional association.

Mrs O'Neill had been working at Misty Mountain Health Retreat, but as the place is run by her husband maybe her CV wasn't given the critical attention that usually goes with getting a job in the health industry.

I could go through the HCCC statement in detail but it's probably easier for all concerned if you read it for yourself. The important part is the public statement of the ban, which you can read below.

The Commission issues the following public statement under section 41A(2)(b) [o]f theAct:

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/li>
  • In relation to causes of cancer – cancer is a fungus that can be treated with bicarbonate soda Page 16 of 18 Health Care Complaints Commission
  • 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'Neil 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. Health services includes "health education services" under s.4 of the Act and clause 1(g) of the Code of Conduct.

Barbara bounces back. Of course she does. (12/10/2019)
I mentioned last week that a naturopath quack (a tautology, I know – sorry) had been banned for life by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission for lying about her qualifications and being a general danger to public health. In a just society this would have been the end of things and she would have disappeared into the obscurity and poverty that she deserves. In real life, however, parasites like this just look for another host and Barbara O'Neill has resurfaced in the US (a place she describes as "a developing country" when whining to her followers) where her appearance at seminars attracts an extra fee of about $1000 from the suckers who attend.

She went Full Mental Jacket at the GoFundMe crowd funding site where she published a long screed lying about her circumstances and begging for money. I couldn't help myself so I posted this comment to the fundraising page:

The good thing is that she doesn't control comments on the GoFundMe page, so it will stay there for potential donors to read. With any luck it might cause people who don't know who she is and who might believe her lies to think again about giving her money.

In addition to stealing money from sick people, her business at Misty Mountains Retreat managed to get itself registered as a charity and has been collecting government grants as well as avoiding company income tax and allowing the tax deductibility of donations. This theft of money from taxpayers is now under investigation and you can read about it here.

The Guardian article carries this wonderful photo, prompting people to ask why she needs a microscope. One suggestion was to look for her conscience, but as it's not an electron microscope it probably wouldn't be up to the job.

Solidarity forever! (26/10/2019)
Whenever a quack comes under some form of criticism all branches of the alternative to medicine industry immediately combine to respond. Their responses are almost always just a collection of lies, non sequiturs, abuse and logical fallacies. And almost inevitably there's a sighting of the Pharma Shill Gambit, where people who talk sense are accused of being paid for what they say. As I've said before, if I were to be paid to do what I do I would do more of it and better.

Here's an anti-vaccination liar defending someone who claimed to be able to cure                 (you fill in the blank) with baking soda, among other things.

A bit of prehistory history (10/4/2021)
Back in October 2019 I mentioned that an egregious quack named Barbara O'Neill (that name – a coincidence?) had been stomped on from a great height by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission and could no longer be a professional naturopath. The outfit she worked for, Misty Mountain Health Retreat, nominally owned by her husband, had been a registered charity at one time with all that implies about tax fraud, sorry, avoidance, sorry, minimisation. I was reminded this week that two years before the HCCC had acted the relevant authorities had cancelled the charitable status. No more tax deductions for "donations", no more spurious claims of being a non-profit organisation working "to promote the prevention or control of diseases in human beings". You can read the ruling here.


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