Doctors applaud decision to end mandatory reporting
A decision by Australia’s health ministers to end the mandatory reporting laws has been applauded by industry groups.
The COAG Health Council meeting agreed that doctors should be able to seek help for health and mental health issues without the fear of being reported.
“Health Ministers agree that protecting the public from harm is of paramount importance as is supporting practitioners to seek health and in particular mental health treatment as soon as possible,” the ministers said in a communique.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel agreed with the decision, saying they have been lobbying governments across Australia for some time.
“Although well intentioned, mandatory reporting laws are having the opposite of what’s intended,” he said.
“Doctors are not seeking the healthcare they need for fear of being reported. This is driving issues underground and reducing, rather than increasing, patient safety.”
Currently West Australia is the only state in Australia which does not require a treating doctor to notify authorities.
AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said in a statement: “Mandatory reporting undermines the health and wellbeing of doctors.”
“It is a tragic reality that doctors are at greater risk of suicidal ideation and death by suicide. This year we have lost several colleagues to suicide.
“While there are many factors involved in suicide, we know that early intervention is critical to avoiding these tragic losses.
“The AMA has identified that mandatory reporting is a major barrier to doctors accessing the care they need.
“The real work begins now. We need action from all our governments.
“The medical profession and the public need a sensible system that supports health practitioners who seek treatment for health conditions, while at the same time protecting patients.”
A nationally consistent approach will be considered at the November 2017 COAG Health Council meeting following a discussion paper and consultation with consumer and practitioner groups.
More information about the Council of Australian Governments’ Health Council is available on its website.