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Govt's Dob-In Doctor Bill Counter Productive

23 April 2002

The Government's plan to require Doctors to report incompetent colleagues on threat of professional misconduct charges if they don't - is carrying coercion of health professionals too far Dr Paul Hutchison National's Associate Health Spokesperson said today.

"All health professionals have a fundamental duty to do everything possible to ensure that their own standards as well as their colleagues are as high as possible.

"In the last 10-15 years huge improvements have been made by medical and surgical Colleges in terms of instituting peer review, quality assurance and medical education activities. These activities are key to high quality medical standards and the Colleges should work pro-actively to ensure they happen.

"If the Colleges require all their members to actively partake in quality assurance and be actively and continuously monitored as to their standards, the situation such as happened in the Botrill and Parry cases are far less likely to occur.

"It is very important to have an open relationship with colleagues and other health professionals. It should be possible to discuss and scrutinize problems, mishaps and mistakes openly and actively with a view to quality improvement, rather than in a punitive atmosphere. For the sake of consumers all the same principles should apply to all health professionals. The aim is to recognise and act on problems before they cause harm.

"The Labour-Alliance Government's Bill is likely to create all sorts of behavioural distortions rather than protect the public. If this legislation were extended to all human activities, New Zealand would develop a very paranoid and more retributive society. In its worst form such legislation would bring in vexatious complaints and could be associated with huge injustices and aberrant behaviour.

"The Government and Ministry must re-think the legislation so that it acts to encourage health professionals to promote continuous quality improvement and high standards in an open and trusting context rather than one of suspicion and possible retribution. This is an example of Labour-Alliance insistence on control going far too far," said Dr Hutchison.

Ends

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