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Patient Care Compromised by Decision Not to Amend HPCAA



Patient care in New Zealand has been compromised by the decision not to recommend changes to the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA) Amendment Bill to ensure overseas teleradiologists are registered, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) has said. The New Zealand Parliament’s Health Select Committee has chosen not to recommend a further amendment to the HPCAA, to require the Medical Council of New Zealand to register teleradiologists from overseas providing teleradiology services to New Zealand patients. There is no current requirement for these doctors to be registered.

RANZCR President Dr Lance Lawler, who presented the college’s submission to the Select Committee earlier this year calling for additional changes to the HPCAA, said the decision risked exposing New Zealand patients in rural and regional areas to sub-standard levels of healthcare.

“Transparency is a critical part of any healthcare system – but obviously not in New Zealand,” Dr Lawler said.

“New Zealand patients deserve the highest quality of healthcare. Patients must have confidence that the care they receive via teleradiology is no different to what they would receive from an on-site practitioner.

“Without registration, however, a patient has neither the assurance that their doctor has appropriate qualifications or would be subject to disciplinary proceedings if needed.

“In addition, by not amending the Act, the government will have no idea of the qualities and capabilities of overseas teleradiologists.

“Teleradiologists play a vital role in modern New Zealand healthcare, providing critical support to people and practices in rural and isolated areas. Their decisions can have a huge impact on the health of patients. There are, therefore, overwhelming reasons why overseas-based telehealth practitioners should be registered in New Zealand if providing services to New Zealand patients.

“It is not enough to trust that a District Health Board or private provider would conduct due diligence because assessing professional competence is not their role and they face other pressures. There is also the temptation for health provider to use a less qualified practitioner from overseas, which could puts patients at risk of receiving sub-standard treatment.

“While RANZCR does not question the ability of unregistered teleradiologists, the College believes it is untenable to allow a situation to develop where unregulated – and therefore potentially unsafe – telehealth practitioners are providing services to New Zealand patients.

“The health and well-being of New Zealand’s patients remains RANZCR’s top priority. RANZCR calls on the New Zealand Government to revisit the HPCAA as soon as possible and reconsider this decision.”

A link to the report is available here.


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