The Medical Board of Australia is expected to soon acquire new powers to take immediate action against doctors and other health practitioners where the Board “reasonably believes” the action is in the “public interest”. This can include either suspension or imposition of practice conditions.
The proposed changes are part of a wider package of reforms to health practitioner regulation.
MIGA sees the new power to take public interest action, together with other new powers to disclose action taken against practitioners, to be key issues for our members and clients.
We have been advocating extensively on behalf of our members during this reform process, both at Commonwealth and State levels.
Most recently, we made detailed submissions to the Queensland Parliament1, tasked to examine the reforms on behalf of other states and territories, and gave evidence at a parliamentary inquiry2.
MIGA’s position is:
- Public interest action:
- has too low a threshold of “reasonable belief” for taking action, and should instead be based on the considerably higher threshold of being “satisfied” that action is in the public interest, as is the case in New South Wales – it has since been acknowledged that the threshold should be consistent with New South Wales
- needs detailed guidance about what is ”public interest” – comment has since been offered
- Unnecessary disclosure of actions taken should be avoided, particularly when disclosure could now be made to a wider range of people and bodies – AHPRA and the professional boards intend to develop guidance on this, with stakeholder input.
MIGA is also advocating for increased use of educative processes rather than disciplinary processes for one-off mistakes or other isolated issues.
MIGA’s advocacy in this area is part of its broader work around health care regulation and discipline.3
We will keep you up-to-date on the progress of reforms and our work on your behalf through the Bulletin, website and our social media channels.