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Senior Doctors Support MP's Health Amendment Bill

“Senior Doctors Support Mp’s Amendment To Health Bill”

“Senior doctors support the decision today of ACT MP Heather Roy to propose an amendment seeking to remove doctors from coverage under the Government’s Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Bill and to retain the Medical Practitioners Act,” said Mr Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, today.

If successful this would mean that doctors would continue to be covered by the Medical Practitioners Act 1995. The Bill is currently before Parliament with the Second Reading possibly as early as Tuesday 23 July. The Association has published a background paper outlining its concerns that has been distributed to all MPs.

“The Government’s original intention was that its Bill would extend the Medical Practitioners Act to cover other health professionals that have inferior legislation protecting the health and safety of the public. But regrettably its Bill fails to do this and instead is significantly inferior to the Medical Practitioners Act. In our assessment the Bill risks seriously worsening the ability to provide effective health and safety for the public. Consequently we have decided to campaign as hard as we can to maintain the superior Medical Practitioners Act.”

“Unfortunately the enormous difficulties of drafting new law covering the protection of the health and safety of the public that would apply to several quite different professional occupations have been seriously under-estimated. These occupational groups vary greatly in complexity and specialisation. Trying to provide one system of public protection for all has proved to be too ambitious within such a short period of time.”

“The major concern is that the Bill undermines the registration provisions in the Medical Practitioners Act that provides for the setting of standards for senior doctors. Instead the Bill proposes a narrower more individualised system (scopes of practice) whose risks include leading to reduced training and undermining workforce planning. This proposed system might be suitable for less complex forms of health care but is potentially dangerous for the public when applied to much more complex and specialised medical care.”

“Unfortunately there has not been the level of debate and discussion over such a major and potentially risky shift in direction that is contained in the Bill. Concerns over increased risk to the health and safety of the public should be satisfactorily resolved first before proposed changes are permanently passed into law.”

“We are also concerned that the cumulative effect of the Bill undermines the current professional self-regulation system that has served the public so well. As professional self-regulation is significantly reduced, it is replaced by high risk political and bureaucratic regulation.”

“The other major deficiencies of the Bill are who sets the code of ethics for doctors, protection for quality assurance, and whether doctors on the Medical Council are elected or politically appointed.”

“We recommend that the Government support or adopt Heather Roy’s amendment. As the Bill provides for a review after its first three years, the government would then have another opportunity to assess how the two different acts could be blended together. This would be ‘win-win’ for all concerned, especially the public.”

“We congratulate Heather Roy and encourage the Government and all other political parties to support her constructive initiative. The health and safety of the public is so important that it deserves to be considered in a non-ideological and non-political way,” concluded Mr Powell.

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