On 7 May 2022 by audio visual link the Health Practitioner’s Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT) heard a conviction charge laid by a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) against Mr Matthew Richard Cochrane, registered chiropractor of Queenstown, (the chiropractor).
The charge alleged that the chiropractor:
Was convicted in the District Court of a set of 8 offences of using a document with intent to obtain pecuniary advantage in contravention of section 228 of the Crimes Act 1961.
These offences occurred on 8 separate occasions between April 2015 and October 2016.
The full charge can be found in the Tribunal’s decision of 6 May 2022.
The convictions either separately or together reflect adversely on the chiropractor’s fitness to practices s100(1)(c) of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2023 (The Act)
The chiropractor accepted the charge and the hearing proceeded by way of an Agreed Summary of Facts. The chiropractor did not attend the hearing.
The offending related to the chiropractor’s invoicing to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) when he claimed for treatments he was not entitled to claim for. The funding was received over approximately 19 months from March 2015 to October 2016 and amounted to $134,578.
The chiropractor came to the ACC’s attention because of his unusually high treatment numbers. Following discussions with the chiropractor in March 2015 the chiropractor said he would reduce his hours. This did not occur and in September 2016 the ACC notified the Chiropractic Board of the ACC’s concerns.
After an intensive investigation by the Board’s PCC and as a result of the concerns identified by the PCC, ACC made a complaint to the Police.
The Crown counsel’s submissions in relation to the criminal offending observed that there were at least 3,565 appointments of a fraudulent nature.
The chiropractor accepted the facts of the convictions and that each of the offences he was convicted of reflected adversely on his fitness to practise. The chiropractor advised that he does not intend to return to practice. He has set up ongoing weekly payment to ACC to repay the $134,578.
The Tribunal had no hesitation in finding that the chiropractor’s convictions reflected adversely on his fitness to practise. It stated that the chiropractor’s offending demonstrated a complete disregard for the law and his professional and ethical obligations. As such the charge and its particulars were established both separately and together as a ground for discipline under s.100(1)(c)of the Act.
The Tribunal imposed the following penalties:
- Cancellation of registration;
- The chiropractor may not apply to restore his registration for a period of two years from the date of the written decision;
- Payment of $29,200 which amount to 40% of the total costs of the hearing.
The Tribunal also recommended that the New Zealand Chiropractic Board advise the Australian Chiropractic Board of the decision.
The Tribunal directed publication of the decision and a summary.