Prominent GPs dub response to AHPRA inquiry ‘non-committal’ and ‘wishy-washy’

Edwin Kruys

31/08/2018 2:27:18 PM

Dr Edwin Kruys and Dr Evan Ackermann discuss the Government response to the Senate inquiry into AHRPA complaints mechanisms.

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L–R: Dr Edwin Kruys believes there is a gap between expectations and quality in the complaints process; Dr Evan Ackermann feels the inquiry and response will leave doctors disappointed.

The Federal Government has responded to a Senate committee inquiry that was highly critical of the medical complaints process overseen by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
But is the Government’s response adequate?
Here are the views (in their own words) of two of the RACGP’s most prominent GPs: immediate past Vice-President Dr Edwin Kruys, who spoke for the RACGP at the inquiry; and Dr Evan Ackermann, outgoing Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care (REC–QC).
Dr Edwin Kruys
Acknowledging that AHPRA has improved some of its processes over time, there is still a large gap between the expectations and the quality of the current complaints process. 
The Government's first response to many of the recommendations appears non-committal. 
It’s really a double-edged sword for health practitioners: on the one hand, the Senate inquiry recommended that AHPRA makes the process less traumatic for health professionals but, on the other hand, this may need to be funded through higher practitioner registration fees. 
I think it is now more important than ever for our professional bodies, AHPRA and Government to sit around the table and decide on the best way forward.
We need to find a solution as soon as possible to ensure the important issues flagged by the Senate Committee are addressed in a meaningful way.
Dr Evan Ackermann
I think the Senate review findings and the Government response will rightly leave practitioners disappointed, and will lead to a loss of confidence from the profession in the regulatory process and AHPRA.
It’s really a ‘do nothing’ Government response to wishy-washy Senate recommendations.
When national registration was first implemented, we were promised a more efficient and responsive registration system.
Our practitioners pay fees that cover the costs of AHPRA’s regulatory functions. ‘Fees would fall,’ they said – but they didn’t. What we got for our money was a national approach to health practitioner regulation that is more perverse and more expensive, with little concern for health practitioners.
It goes hand-in-hand with increasing expectations in the community about healthcare, and a lack of respect for healthcare workers. Verbal abuse and assault of frontline healthcare workers is evidence of this.
It is too easy to make a complaint. The result is an ever-increasing demand on AHPRA that the profession has to pay for.
‘Protection of the public’ seems to be an all-encompassing reason to go on a witch hunt and ignore the real impact this has on professionals involved.
The process is complicated, as it is intertwined with litigation and compensation claims. There is little appetite (or truthfully, little insight) for change.
Perhaps it is time to seriously consider different forms of complaint resolution, such as a no-fault compensation scheme and a mandated short investigative process.
Reasonable community standards and rights should be afforded to practitioners. The current process is inefficient and it needs to change.

AHPRA complaints mechanism senate inquiry


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