Fettke free at last as AHPRA drops all charges


By Marika Sboros

Australian orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gary Fettke is a free and vindicated man. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has dropped all charges against him.

In a letter to Fettke, AHPRA clears him of any wrongdoing or misconduct in a case that has dragged on for more than four years. The Agency has also apologised for its actions against him.

Those actions include slapping a lifetime ban on him in 2016 from speaking to patients about nutrition. Not just any nutrition but his advocacy for low-carb, healthy-fat (LCHF) therapies.

The ban falls away – although Fettke had ignored it anyway.

Dr Gary Fettke and wife, Belinda.

He and wife Belinda announced AHPRA’s ruling in a jubilant post on their #ISupportGary website. Click here to read it in full.

Fettke told me immediately after receiving AHPRA’s letter that his first reaction was tears of intense relief. His wife had become his public “voice” after AHPRA tried to silence him. The couple has spoken of the personal and professional toll the case has taken on him and his family.

“It is a huge relief after years of being treated as if I was doing something wrong,” Fettke said.

His patients were also told that his recommendations were dangerous and his advice would kill them.

Fettke has called for heads to roll. The case was the result of vexatious complaints, he said. AHPRA’s notoriously secretive complaints and prejudicial investigation processes have been aggravating factors.

APHRA held all its hearings against him in secret and did not allow Fettke to attend and defend himself. AHPRA also refused to reveal any evidence against him. Legal experts have described AHPRA’s actions against him as a “kangaroo court“.

No harm done, no patient complained

His comprehensive exoneration is likely to reignite the debate about the influence of “medical evangelism” on official dietary guidelines. Research by Fettke and his wife has exposed the role of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church worldwide.

His case is also likely to put the spotlight back on the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) and its food-industry links.

The case arose in 2014 after the first of three anonymous DAA dietitians lodged complaints against Fettke with AHPRA. Chief among the complaints was that he advised LCHF diets to patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The dietitians claimed that LCHF was “inappropriate” advice and not evidence-based. They also claimed that LCHF was “inconsistent” with Australia’s dietary guidelines and the National Heart Foundation position statement on dietary fats.

Senate Inquiry in 2016 brought AHPRA’s actions against Fettke under special scrutiny. At the Inquiry,  Fettke also spoke movingly about intimidation and bullying he experienced at the hands of the medical establishment.

The Senate Inquiry put AHPRA under notice and suggested that Fettke refer his case to the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner. The Obudsman saw process issues and referred the case back to the Medical Board for reconsideration in June 2018.

No ‘significant risk apparent’

It is significant, Fettke said, that no patient had lodged a complaint against him. In the letter to Fettke, APRHA acknowledged that no harm came to patients from his dietary advice. The Agency also acknowledged that there is no  “significant risk apparent” in LCHF as a dietary option.

The letter states:

“… no significant risks to public safety have been identified that require a regulatory response under the National Law. In the case of each of the three issues considered, there is no evidence of any actual harm and nor does (AHPRA’s Medical) Board discern any particular risk to public health and safety moving forward

 “For these reasons, the Board has decided to take no further regulatory action.” 

AHPRA also cleared Fettke of any breach of good medical practice by referring to its Code of Conduct.

The Code states that good patient care involves “encouraging patients to take interest in, and responsibility for, the management of their health”. As well, the code states that doctors have a right to inform patients and colleagues “of treatments to which they conscientiously object”.

Fettke has said that he prefers not to have to amputate the limbs of diabetic patients when simple dietary change can save them.

Implications for Fettke and the future

AHPRA’s letter and apology go beyond just clearing him professionally. The letter’s wording “clearly implies that there is no harm in any health professional in Australia recommending LCHF therapies”, the Fettkes say.

“All health professionals who want to practice preventative medicine can now do so openly and without fear of repercussions,” Fettke told me.

British obesity researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe has welcomed the news: “Knowing this strong, caring and principled couple, the apology will mean a great deal. It has been too late in coming but better late than never.”

Saying “sorry” should mean: “We won’t do it again,” Harcombe said. “May Gary and Belinda be the last pioneers that ‘authorities’ harm.”

Fettke is upbeat. The DAA and AHPRA hoped to silence him on LCHF but they achieved the opposite. They achieved the “Streisand effect“, he said:

“The message  – the science for nutrition and food as medicine –  has grown louder and spread globally.”




  1. But they still need to ‘fess up and tell us WHY and HOW they made the Original Decision. – You know, the one they’ve just reversed , and apologized for !

  2. I believe Dr and Mrs Fettke are owed a better ‘explanation’ than a cheap ‘sorry…’.
    – Starting with full, voluntary disclosure of ‘who’ the accusers are, names of those in AHPRA who sat in judgement, and the evidence / sources that caused them to arrive at the first decision.
    Then the current one.

    Naturally, I won’t be holding my breath for the above wish-list, but it would be a genuine demonstration of contrition if such information was offered now, – it may even head off a Senate Inquiry or expensive Royal Commission, monies that could be better spent in Dietary education…

    And not just Dr Fettke, but how about those Dietiticians, brutally silenced in recent times for the same offence of offering correct advice to their patients. ?

  3. In order to ‘close the circle’, and possibly salvage a skerrick of gravitas for AHPRA it is imperative the original accusers are now examined, and with no less rigour. Not only the individual(s) but the organizations who support them.
    All sorts of excuses will, no doubt, be made as to the difficulty or inadvisability in investigating them. Fine. Just name them and their AHPRA supporters and we Readers will join the dots !
    We’ll start by putting the Question, Cui bono ? – Who Profits ?

  4. This is great news! It very much looks as though these official bodies in Australia are going to have to get their houses in order and quickly. We have been watching the dodgy goings on that have been uncovered in the ongoing Royal Commission into the banking and finance organisations in Australia. It will be very interesting to see The penalties that will be handed down. It would appear that a full investigation into AHPRA and the ADD would be appropriate too. They cannot hide behind their lies anymore!

  5. I hope The Australian newspaper will be featuring this important news prominently. Just like they did with their attempts to discredit Dr Maryanne Demassi.

    • Having worked in a large newspaper, my feeling is … that depends on how much advertising is placed with them, by the preachers of Low Fat / HIGH Carbs

  6. A wonderful and long overdue result! Hopefully some compensation will follow, but I am sure it can never be adequate for all the stress and strain Gary and Belinda have had to endure for years. I admire them tremendously and thank them for persisting, so that the medical establishment have had to acknowledge the benefit of LCHF therapies and many will benefit as a result.

  7. Have they, or will they name the dietician who made the complaint – based on a premise that an Orthopaedic Surgeon is not qualified to advise patients to reduce sugar intake to improve their health. Another dietician WTF moment …

  8. Wow. This is such great news. Dr. Fettke and his wife Belinda have behaved with such dignity and integrity throughout this whole ordeal. Finally! A regulatory body is able to admit that it was wrong! Let’s hope this starts a trend!

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