Australians deem healthcare the most ethical industry

Morgan Liotta

6/11/2020 2:32:25 PM

The latest report from the Ethics Centre confirms that Australians hold the healthcare sector in especially high regard.

Healthcare workers on connecting path
Healthcare workers rank highly for their part in ethical collaboration.

People trust their doctor.
That is one of the key takeaways from The ethical advantage: The economic and social benefits of ethics to Australia.
Incorporated in the Ethics Centre report, the annual national survey from the Governance Institute of Australia’s Ethics Index measures Australians’ perceptions of ethical behaviour in society.
Healthcare was seen to be most ethical across various industries, with an index score of +67 on a scale between -100 and +100. This was followed by education, charities and not-for-profit organisations.
These results follow general practice being voted the most ethical profession in the Ethics Index survey in November 2019.
Common underlying ethical themes – ­honesty, respect and fairness ­– exist across different sectors, according to the report. But some occupations have their own codes and for healthcare workers, it is duty of care to patients, minimising harm and promoting wellbeing.
Since its 2018 launch, the Australian Consensus Framework (ACF) for Ethical Collaboration in the Healthcare Sector has received over 70 signatures from across the health sector, and has provided basis for how the profession should function during times of crisis and beyond.
The ACF serves to deliver ethical collaboration and interaction, and promote public confidence and trust in healthcare organisations by ‘demonstrating a shared commitment to integrity and ethics’.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, examples of ethical collaboration under the ACF include:

  • healthcare sector and government collaboration to increase supply of critical medical equipment and medicines needed to diagnose and treat COVID patients
  • hospitals providing access to more beds for COVID patients
  • healthcare sector and government collaboration to help identify community healthcare needs
  • federal and state governments cooperating to reduce the national impact of the pandemic.
The Australian Ethical Health Alliance (AEHA) was one of the leading bodies to implement the ACF and has endorsed the Ethics Centre report as a ‘pleasing shift in trust towards the healthcare community with the introduction of the ACF.’
‘Much has been achieved in a very short time by a large group of committed professionals and participants in the sector,’ AEHA Chair Adrian Cosenza said of the framework.
‘The report’s recommendations resonate strongly with AEHA ethos, principles and approach.’
RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda has also welcomed the results, which he believes indicate the significant leadership demonstrated in developing a model for ethical collaboration across all areas of the health system.
‘The results from this survey are testament to the continuous efforts from healthcare providers to deliver care to our communities. Patients trust their doctor,’ Associate Professor Shenouda told newsGP.
‘The ACF has helped to instil that trust through collaboration and shared values with healthcare providers – aligning their practise with ethical models.’
According to Associate Professor Shenouda, examples of ethical collaboration between GPs, patients and government during times of crisis can be measured from the pandemic response.
‘In particular, we have seen patients’ trust for their healthcare providers build this year with the COVID-19 pandemic through the expansion and adoption of telehealth. The RACGP has advocated for patients not to delay or avoid visiting their GP during the pandemic.’
‘As the cornerstone of Australia’s healthcare sector, general practice helps to set this benchmark of ethics rating.’
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