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Courts and MPDT to decide name suppression

Courts and MPDT to decide name suppression

The New Zealand Medical Association strongly criticises comments made by Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson on Radio NZ today about what he regards as excessive name suppression of doctors facing disciplinary charges.

“It is entirely appropriate for the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and, where necessary, the courts to decide on name suppression, as they hear all the evidence,” said Dr Tricia Briscoe, NZMA Chairman.

“The decision to ask for name suppression is one for the doctor and lawyer involved. The decision to grant it is solely that of the MPDT or the court.”

Dr Briscoe said most of the charges faced by doctors are professional and not criminal in nature, and the effect of publicity on a doctor’s professional career can be huge even when the charges are later not proven.

“The NZMA has every confidence that where the wider public interest is served by a doctor being named (for example for safety reasons), then it should and does happen.”

Dr Briscoe also pointed out that under the Medical Practitioners Act (unlike laws regulating other health practitioners), disciplinary hearings for doctors are held in public.

“One of the positive aspects of the new Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act is that all registered health practitioners will now face the same open disciplinary hearings that doctors have long faced.”

Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, passed in September, repealed 11 existing regulatory statutes (including the Medical Practitioners Act) and brings the regulation of registered health practitioners under one law.

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