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NZMA Welcomes Decision On Bill

Friday, 31 April 2002

The New Zealand Medical Association has welcomed a change to the upcoming legislation governing health professionals, which will remove the requirement for the mandatory reporting of colleagues.

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Bill, soon to be introduced, has been changed so it will now be voluntary for health professionals to report peers they suspect of incompetence.

"This is a sensible move," NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams said. "The NZMA has advocated strongly on this issue, and we are pleased that our views have been taken into account."

Dr Adams said the mandatory reporting requirement would have led to a culture of blame and fear among health professionals.

"It's important that health professionals can work together, and discuss any problems they have openly and freely using processes such as peer review and quality assurance," Dr Adams said. "This way, health professionals can work together to make improvements. The mandatory reporting requirement would have made this very difficult.

"This Bill is designed to improve the competence of health professionals. With the change away from mandatory reporting, the Bill will lead to safer environments for doctors and other health professionals to work in, and for patients."

The NZMA has not yet seen the final version of the Bill, but believes the decision is likely to lead to sensible systems for detecting and reducing incompetence, and to enhance competency for health practitioners.

Dr Adams said the HPCA Bill had been in development for the past two years, and the NZMA had taken a keen interest in it. "It's vital that we get this legislation right because it's likely that health professionals will have to work under it for many years."


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