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Families rally behind Auckland doctor despite health tribunal ruling

Families with children battling severe cases of eczema have come to the defense of an Auckland doctor who's been penalised for professional misconduct.

Dr Joseph Williams of Mt Wellington, has been handed a hefty fine of $10,000 for mixing medicines and giving inappropriate dietary advice.

Dr Joseph Williams. Photo/ PMN.

The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal charged Dr Williams on two counts: combining a potent topical steriod and an antifungal cream in circumstances that amounted to misconduct and providing dietary advice that resulted in harm.

The Tribunal was concerned that Dr Williams proceeded to mix medicines and give diet advice in the face of concerns being expressed to him by other professionals whose views should have been respected and taken into account.

Dr Williams has been working as a health professional for over 50 years, with a special interest and dedication to eczema and skin conditions. 

While his treatment had failed 12 patients that led to the case going to the Tribunal, many families are praising Dr Williams for helping them overcome their eczema problems.

An Auckland mother in Wellsford, Allira Bowman, whose daughter suffered from eczema as an infant says Dr Williams' advice and prescription had been a lifesaver.

"When we saw him it was a huge relief. He was the first doctor who didn't just give me a cream and send us on our way... He gave us a list of foods to avoid... He gave us the cream and it literally cleared her in two days."

"When you reach that point, you try anything and I know the cream that he uses has a mild steroid and I do prefer not to use it but it just really made all the difference." 

"Even now, the regime he prescribed is keeping her eczema under brilliant control. He's such a lovely amazing doctor, he does such brilliant work for the community."

Bowman says it's unfair that Dr Williams is being penalised.

"He's amazing because he does so much. He should've long ago retired but he continues to work tirelessly for his community."

A mother from South Auckland, Anele Siaopo, whose two children suffered eczema says she had exhausted all options before finding Dr Williams.

"We got the prescription and within two to three days it started clearing up and for us it was a real help and relief to see that the treatment was effective."

"We've had a really good experience to the point where we've been able to manage the eczema with the cream and the skin care options he gave and the advice around diet."

Siaopo says it's disheartening to hear of the outcomes that Dr Williams has had with the Tribunal.

"I feel that maybe these pharmaceuticals aren't making a profit because his [Dr Williams] skin care treatment is more effective."

Another woman from Auckland is echoing the praises of Dr Williams.

Mata Puia says Dr Williams has helped many people she knows and they've all had great feedback about his treatments.

"He's been a really good doctor in the community and everyone always suggests him... Maybe he just needs to align to whatever they should be practicing in terms of medicine but at the end of the day, he's been doing it for a long time. All his advice has worked for a lot of people. If he's mixed medicine and it's made it worse then I understand."

"I think it's sad because they don't talk about all the good that he's done for so many families and he makes this one mistake and they feed off that."

The Tribunal has also ordered Dr Williams to pay a total of $145,000 towards the costs and has imposed conditions on his practice.

Dr Williams is a former prime minister and health minister of the Cook Islands. He also held the last Cook Islands overseas MP seat in New Zealand.

Tags: health,