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RACGP says proposed changes to mandatory reporting ‘a step in the right direction’


Doug Hendrie


13/04/2018 5:14:07 PM

The RACGP has called the COAG Health Council’s proposed changes to mandatory reporting regulations ‘a step in the right direction’, but feels they leave unanswered questions for healthcare professionals.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel believes the profession ‘needs to look after the health practitioners who look after everyone else in the community’.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel believes the profession ‘needs to look after the health practitioners who look after everyone else in the community’.

‘The announcement by COAG demonstrates a clear willingness by the state governments to address the longstanding concerns of the RACGP and GPs,’ RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said.
 
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council, which met in Sydney on Friday, issued a communique outlining the fact state health ministers had, ‘agreed unanimously to take steps to protect patients and strengthen the law to remove barriers for registered health professionals to seek appropriate treatment for impairments including mental health’.
 
‘The announcement clarifies that mandatory reporting is not required when a health professional has an impairment. This is great news, and the RACGP very much welcomes this,’ Dr Seidel said. ‘However, there remains some questions around the other mandatory reporting requirements, which will require careful consideration in order to get this right.’
 
The RACGP and other peak medical bodies have consistently called for changes to state and territory-based mandatory reporting laws. These calls have followed a number of suicides within the profession, and concerns that doctors would be reluctant to discuss their mental health concerns for fear it would affect their Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) registration.
 
State health ministers have agreed to a consistent national approach to mandatory reporting. The proposed legislation will specifically include a requirement to report past, present and the risk of future sexual misconduct, as well as a requirement to report current and the risk of future instances of intoxication at work and practice outside of accepted standards.
 
Dr Seidel said retaining barriers that prevent registered healthcare professionals from seeking appropriate care reduces rather than increases patient safety.
 
‘We need to look after the health practitioners who look after everyone else in the community,’ he said. ‘Now is the time to get it right, and make it work for health professionals and the community.’
 
‘The RACGP and its 38,000 members are ready to work with the federal and state governments and other relevant stakeholders to further improve mandatory reporting processes.’
 
A 2013 beyondblue study of more than 12,000 doctors found that more than a third cited concerns about their medical registration as an obstacle to seeking treatment for a mental health condition.



doctor-suicides mandatory-reporting mental-health



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