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Tossing a Snowball at the tip of the iceberg

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Too many licensing authorities, not enough accountability or power to enforce standards

Fourteen health professions come into the jurisdiction of the Australian Health Professionals Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Having one national licensing authority for the professions instead of separate authorities in each state and territory makes good sense. For doctors, if AHPRA had stopped at one registration fee, and left the paraphernalia to the states and territories, it would have been a modest body and not enmeshed with a national medical board and a national medical council. This awkward arrangement is demonstrated in the recommendations of a recent parliamentary report.1

Peter Drucker, well known management guru, is quoted as saying “Much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work”.2 The article quoting Drucker talks about a “mass of clutter — from bulging inboxes to endless meetings and long lists of objectives to box-tick”. When there are three national medical bodies with interlocking functions, it is unsurprising they are prey to the dysfunctions of bureaucracy.

These are resonant tones for those who have known simpler times. Then, you signed the register in front of a group of venerable peers who called you by your surname and said “I knew your father”. You were invited…