Since late last year, MIGA has been involved in a consultation run by Australian Health Ministers on whether the regime which regulates doctors and other health practitioners – the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law – remains up to date and fit for purpose.

The 100-plus page consultation paper posed 60 questions, covering a wide range of issues from registration to information sharing, practice conditions to advertising, and investigation processes to public warnings.

MIGA’s contributions so far have been detailed written submissions and participating in a range of forums and meetings with government, regulatory and professional groups.

MIGA supports some proposals, but opposes others.  We want to avoid unnecessary investigations, adverse effects on doctors and any reluctance by them to seek help for themselves or with claims and complaints.

Key overall points we have made include

  • Ensure fairness to doctors – protecting the public must be balanced appropriately with fairness to doctors and acknowledging the adverse effects regulatory processes can have on them
  • Don’t punish the good – the overwhelming majority of doctors who provide excellent healthcare should not face unduly onerous or unnecessary regulatory processes, or be treated by a lowest common denominator standard
  • Use what is already there – there are a range of existing and soon to come initiatives, including the Medical Board’s Professional Performance Framework, which should be given time to work and be assessed before considering various reforms
  • Get more evidence – a number of reform proposals lack clear and convincing evidence.

The significant reform proposals, which MIGA opposes, include

  • Reporting all civil claim settlements or judgments, either by doctors or medical defence organisations / insurers
  • More information sharing – this should be limited to what is reasonably necessary, i.e. where there are substantial risks of harm to the public – publicly available information should not include complete disciplinary histories, Tribunal decisions with no adverse findings, details of all regulatory decisions or information hinting at a practitioner’s health.
  • Patients having a right of review / appeal of regulator decisions (doctors and other health practitioners already have a range of review and appeal rights).

Health Ministers are now considering submissions, and we expect a number of further consultations over the coming year.

Members who are interested in this work and would like more information or want to contribute their thoughts are welcome to contact us.

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