06 February 2019

Doctors condemn decision to support mandatory reporting

  • Queensland Parliamentary Committee has recommended that the Mandatory Reporting legislation be passed, intensifying concerns amongst the medical profession.
  • If passed, the legislation will come into effect in all states and territories except WA, under a COAG decision.
  • Doctors have been stripped of the right to see their own doctor confidentially, forcing doctors to disclose medical conditions of other practitioners to their regulatory board for review.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has condemned today’s report by the Queensland Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee which has recommended a bill be passed that will mean doctors cannot confidentiality discuss their health with another medical professional under proposed mandatory reporting laws.
“It is an unfortunate decision. It creates the problem it is trying to solve,” Dr Bruce Willet, Chair of RACGP Queensland said.
“It is important that doctors and health practitioners can receive the healthcare they need, rather than feel the need to hide their health concerns due to 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.”
This recommendation comes despite strong advocacy from the RACGP and a number of other healthcare bodies – to ensure healthcare practitioners are exempt from reporting doctors under their own care, in line with the model followed in Western Australia.
The RACGP provided advice to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council in August last year, stating that the proposed amendments to mandatory reporting laws were not enough to remove the barriers for doctors seeking care.
“The problem is that mandatory reporting legislation is very complex and clinicians feel they can’t afford to take the risk of not reporting everyone who presents with anything that could be possibly related to an impairment.
“And a lot of health professionals, not just doctors – we’re also talking about nurses and physios and others – are being reported where they don’t need to be because their treating clinicians feel under a great deal of pressure.
“Health practitioners are more likely to take their own lives than other members of our community, and this proposed legislation is going to make it even harder for them to seek help for fear of being suspended.
The legislation will now go to the Queensland Parliament for debate, if passed it will become law in all states except Western Australia following COAG agreement.

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