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RACGP deeply disappointed over lack of change to mandatory reporting laws


Paul Hayes


14/11/2018 3:43:39 PM

Australia’s state and federal governments have ignored RACGP calls for changes to proposed new mandatory reporting laws.

The RACGP wants exemptions from mandatory reporting of health issues.
The RACGP wants exemptions from mandatory reporting of health issues.

The RACGP has repeatedly called for complete exemption from mandatory reporting requirements for treating health practitioners, in line with Western Australia’s model.
 
But a draft bill amending mandatory reporting laws about to go to the Queensland Parliament includes none of the RACGP’s recommendations.
 
The RACGP provided advice to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council in August, stating that the proposed amendments to mandatory reporting laws were not enough to remove the barriers for doctors seeking care.
 
In a submission last month to the latest consultations for the Health Practitioner National Law Bill, the RACGP again voiced its concerns, describing changes to mandatory reporting as ‘essential’.
 
‘The current reporting laws create a barrier for health practitioners to be open and honest about their health conditions, for fear this information may be divulged in the mandatory reporting process,’ the submission states. 
 
‘It is important that practitioners receive the healthcare they need, rather than seek to hide issues through fear of being reported by their treating practitioner. Removing this mandatory reporting requirement, which prevents registered health practitioners from seeking healthcare, will improve patient safety.’
 
The RACGP believes the proposed framework does not address what it considers to be ‘the fundamental issue at hand’, namely that medical practitioners still cannot seek healthcare without fear of being reported.

‘All this new legislation does is complicate the process of mandatory reporting,’ the RACGP stated.

The RACGP wants exemptions from mandatory reporting of health issues following a number of suicides within the profession, as well as significant concern among GPs over fears doctors would avoid seeking mental health help, believing it could affect their registration as a health practitioner.
 
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment (Tranche 1A) Bill was agreed to by Health Ministers at the COAG Health Council on 12 October.
 
The bill is to be debated in Queensland’s parliament after an investigation by a parliamentary committee. COAG processes for laws such as this mean that the Queensland bill, if passed, will direct all other state and territory laws except for Western Australia.

The proposed amendments aim to implement a higher threshold of risk and introduce guidance for treating practitioners to assess risk, and strengthen reporting for sexual misconduct.
 
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has also expressed strong disappointment at having its recommendations ignored.
 
‘Our fear is that the Bill going before the Queensland Parliament will stop doctors seeking healthcare when they need it,’ AMA President Dr Tony Bartone said.
 
Australia’s mandatory reporting laws were introduced in 2010, requiring a treating health professional to report any health professional coming to them as a patient if they are experiencing drug addiction or mental health issues, or any issue which might place the public at risk of harm.



COAG council of Australian governments mandatory reporting





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