Topic: Health

Popular eczema doctor receives hefty fine

By Tema Hemi
  • Auckland

Dr Joseph Williams, commonly known to his patients as Dr Eczema, has come under scrutiny and been fined by the Medical Council of New Zealand after complaints from two dermatologists about twelve patients he treated.  

Williams has rejected conventional eczema treatments, designing his own treatment plans.

Source: ECZEMA "The Neglected Disease of Children"

Williams has treated over 70,000 people with eczema and other skin conditions throughout his medical career. 

His treatment plan involves avoiding inflammation-causing foods, and the use of topical steroids and anti-fungal creams.  But now the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Council has found the treatment unsafe and has placed restrictions on it.  

Nearly 20% of children in NZ are affected by the dermatological condition and the prevalence of severe eczema is higher for Māori and Pacific Islander children.  A good many claim to have found relief through Williams' plan and he has been inundated with support from the community, with a petition to clear his name reaching just over 3,700 signatures this afternoon.

Source: ECZEMA "The Neglected Disease of Children"

Williams says, "I felt upset, gutted would be a better term, and then when we sat at the tribunal and see the tribunal was established from the medical council- they select people for the council there and when we sat at the hearing, right from the word 'go' I felt that members of the council found me guilty already. 

"The only restriction I was given was that I was to use a lower dose of steroid on children under twelve, which we were using anyway."

Source: ECZEMA "The Neglected Disease of Children"

A young father, whose brothers both developed a bad case of eczema, said to Te Kāea, "I have twin brothers, they're younger than me and they had eczema at a young age and we tried everything and mum knew about this doctor.  That's why we came here, it was good for the twins like right now their skin's a lot better and I thought I'd try it for my daughter."

A summary of the New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal findings states they were “concerned that the Doctor mixed the two medicines without himself having conducted any proper validated analysis of the consequences and without adequate formal research.  A further major factor was that the Doctor in many cases, prescribed the mixture in the face of concerns being expressed to him by other professionals whose views he should have respected and taken into account.”

Native Affairs interviewed Dr Williams in 2015.  Watch the full interview here.