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Doctor accreditation under review

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Health economist Professor Michael Woods will look at ways to encourage collaboration between the health professions as part of a review of accreditation systems.

The Independent Review has been commissioned by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council to examine the effectiveness of the accreditation system “to ensure that the educational programs provide a sustainable registered health profession workforce that is flexible and responsive to the changing health needs of the Australian community”.

Among his terms of reference, Professor Woods, who is Professor of Health Economics at the University of Technology Sydney, has been asked to report on the cost effectiveness of the accreditation regime, as well as options to streamline the process and “opportunities for increasing consistency and collaboration across professions”.

The review is being conducted at a sensitive time.

The AMA has been in discussion with several professional groups including the Pharmacy Society of Australia about ways to improve coordination and collaboration, and has backed the incorporation of non-prescribing pharmacists as part of a GP-led primary health care team.

But a number of groups, most notably in pharmacy and chiropractic, have earned the AMA’s ire over attempts to encroach on the medical profession’s field of practice and expertise, driven by concerns that it might put patients at risk of harm.

These concerns have been underlined by a direction from the nation’s health ministers, meeting at COAG Health Council last month, for the Chiropractors Board of Australia and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to provide them with “evidence of any treatments provided by chiropractors that are not appropriately within the chiropractic scope of practice and may be harmful to patients”.

The ministers asked the agencies to advise on “potential regulatory responses”.

Professor Woods is due to complete his review by the end of 2017.

Adrian Rollins