Solution to mandatory reporting must not be second best
The AMA has called on Health Ministers to make sure the health of the nation’s doctors is not compromised by second-rate mandatory reporting laws.
The call comes as the Queensland Government prepares to introduce a Bill to the State Parliament in an attempt to address the issue.
The AMA has not been provided with the contents of the Bill, and fears that amendments sought by the AMA and many others were ignored by the COAG Health Council.
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment (Tranche 1A) Bill, agreed by Health Ministers at the COAG Health Council on 12 October, must not be a second-best solution that may not protect the health of doctors, the AMA has warned.
AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said that the Health Ministers may believe they have made sufficient changes to the existing laws, but the AMA is adamant that its proposed amendments were vital to make the new national laws safe enough to give doctors confidence to seek help for their own health needs.
“Our fear is that the Bill going before the Queensland Parliament will stop doctors seeking health care when they need it,” Dr Bartone said.
“We fear that this Bill will not stop doctor suicides.
“Mandatory reporting affects every doctor, their families, their loved ones, their colleagues, and their patients.
“Our doctors desperately need legislation that does not actively discourage them from seeking medical treatment when they need it. Doctors are patients too. They should have the same rights to access confidential high-quality medical treatment as their own patients and all other Australians do.
“We urgently need a nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting provisions. It will provide confidence to doctors. It will enable and empower them to seek treatment for their own health conditions anywhere in Australia.”
Dr Bartone said he could not understand why the COAG Health Council did not adopt the AMA recommendations and evidence in framing the new laws.
The AMA amendments were a minimum requirement since the Ministers refused to adopt the current successful and workable Western Australia laws, which will remain in place regardless of the COAG action.
The AMA has lobbied hard for changes to the mandatory reporting laws, including directly to successive COAG Health Council meetings and through lobbying of Ministers by State and Territory AMAs.
The changes need to be such that they will protect the health of doctors, which in turn will benefit patients.