Coinciding with the independent review of the
National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions, Avant’s
Head of Advocacy, Georgie Haysom has co-authored an article calling for the
national adoption of a Western Australian (WA) exemption from mandatory
reporting for treating practitioners.
Published in the Journal of
Law and Medicine last month, the article ‘Mandatory reporting of health professionals: The case for a
Western Australian style exemption for all Australian
practitioners’1 argues that the WA exemption from mandatory
reporting for treating practitioners be introduced nationally because doctors
who are unwell need to feel they can attend their treating doctor without the
fear of being the subject of a mandatory report.
Under the existing Health
Practitioner Regulation National Law a health practitioner is legally obliged to
notify Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) if, in the
course of practising the first health practitioner’s profession, he or she forms
a reasonable belief that another health practitioner has behaved in a way that
constitutes notifiable conduct.
The article also argues that doctors
already experience many barriers when accessing health care and the current
mandatory reporting provisions under the National Law may heighten barriers to
health care access.The authors highlighted this issue especially in relation to
the stigma around seeking health care for doctors with mental health
In particular, the authors noted the results of Beyond Blue’s 2013
National Mental Health Survey of 12,252 doctors which revealed that over a third
(34.3%) of participants were concerned that seeking health care could impact on
their registration and right to practise.
“Even if mandatory reporting is
a perceived barrier, it needs to be addressed to enable better health access…
The Western Australia amendment removes this added perception, while maintaining
the professional requirement to ensure patient safety,” the authors
Adopting the WA legislation nationally would also enhance health
access for health practitioners which in turn would benefit patient safety,
according to the authors.
“We believe strongly that to properly look after
their patients, doctors need to look after themselves,” Ms Haysom
The article mirrors a key option proposed in a consultation paper
released by the independent reviewer, of the National Registration and
Accreditation Scheme for Health Professions which suggested introducing an
exemption for health practitioners under active treatment from mandatory
Avant has made a submission on the consultation
paper representing its members’ interests.
A final report is expected to
be delivered to health ministers in January 2015.
Nick Goiran MLC, Margaret Kay, Louise Nash and Georgie Haysom, Mandatory
reporting of health professionals: The case for a Western Australian style
exemption for all Australian practitioners, Journal of Law and Medicine,
2014, 22: 209 – 220.
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