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National Law changes set to impact doctors

The AMA is calling for amendments to a Bill before Queensland parliament, with concerns about proposed major changes to the National Law.

The AMA has opposed many of the amendments to the National Law in a submission lodged to the Queensland Parliamentary Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee this week. While there are some positive changes in the Bill, there are also changes which will negatively impact doctors while failing to deliver improvements to patient safety.

The Bill, introduced on 11 May, is the next round of reforms to the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) for Health Practitioners. These changes stem from several reviews and responses by health ministers dating as far back as 2014.

Throughout this period the AMA has worked hard to ensure the National Scheme is transparent, efficient, and fair.

While recognising the need to ensure that all regulatory schemes and legislation are regularly reviewed, we continue to be disappointed at the lack of rigour and evidence applied to the assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme. In particular, the lack of evidence or appropriate business cases to support these proposed major changes.

The AMA has consistently argued the changes introduced will have major impacts on the lives and work of medical practitioners without improving standards of care for patients. There must always be an appropriate balance between regulatory power and the risk that is being regulated. We do not believe that all the proposed changes deliver this balance.

Whilst there are a range of proposed amendments the AMA has some concerns with, we have major concerns with the following changes:

  • issuing damning public statements about practitioners prior to completion of actions
  • mandatory self-reporting where a practitioner is charged with any offence relating to scheduled medicine no matter how minor
  • allowing testimonials in health service advertising.

Despite these issues, the draft legislation contains some changes that will improve the position for medical practitioners, including several proposals that are the result of AMA advocacy:

  • providing additional powers to act against people who are unregistered
  • allowing the National Boards to accept an undertaking from a health practitioner rather than imposing a condition on a practitioner’s registration
  • allowing a National Board to withdraw a practitioner’s registration if it was improperly obtained.

The AMA is calling for the Queensland Parliamentary committee examining the proposed amendments to take the time to thoroughly review and amend this draft legislation.

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