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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 619


Mr LYONS (6:50 PM) —In response to the motion put forward by the Hon. Bruce Scott, member for Maranoa, I would like to talk about the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. On 1 July 2010, the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professionals was implemented. Ten national boards are now operating with full functions under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009. The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme is a national scheme led by health professionals who are responsible for determining the appropriate standards for health practitioners. We need to support this national scheme, a scheme that provides standard assessment processes across Australia. The important part of this registration scheme is that appropriate standards are determined and assessed by health professionals, who are members of colleges rather than bureaucrats.

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme is based on the principle of protection of the Australian public. Nobody wants another Patel incident anywhere in Australia. Importantly, the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, with appropriate collegiate and professional assessments, will maintain the standards required not only by the profession but also by the Australian people. It is in the interests of both the health professions and the public that there are appropriate and clearly defined standards in place to govern the registration of all health professionals. We need to let this scheme bed itself in, in the best interests of all Australians. It is obvious that governments and full-time bureaucrats are not the appropriate people to assess professional standards. A surgeon working in a theatre with an applicant for registration over a period of time is an appropriate person, and this would assist in maintaining the necessary standards. The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme must take evidence from people on the job so that standards are maintained.

Under the scheme, there is one professional national board setting the standards and policies for the regulation of each of the professions covered, including the medical profession. This will allow the movement of appropriately qualified people across state borders, thereby creating opportunities for trained professionals to move to a far better and more desirable lifestyle in Tasmania, particularly in the electorate of Bass, whilst maintaining their registration. The national boards are assisted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. The Medical Board of Australia is responsible for determining whether or not an application for registration as a medical practitioner in Australia is successful. Where an applicant’s registration is rejected, there is a process for appealing the decision.

In the second part of the member for Maranoa’s motion, he indicates that there has been a revocation of visas and requests a delay. Provided that the appropriate opportunity for assessment by the Medical Board was available, the question should be: why has the board chosen not to renew the conditional registration? It should not be about delaying visa revocations.

The Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council, which consists of health ministers from all jurisdictions including the Commonwealth, has the capacity under national law to give directions to the national agency or board in regard to relevant policies, processes or procedures. The skills of a surgeon should be assessed by other surgeons, not by bureaucrats. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency considers every medical registration to ensure that all practitioners granted registration have the qualifications, the skills and the experience to provide safe care to the Australian public, with the application passing through a minimum of four stages before a recommendation is made to the national board. This recommendation may be to register, to register with conditions or to reject the applicant. If rejected, the applicant can make a submission to the national board for reconsideration. If that is unsuccessful, it may then go to a tribunal.

The member for Maranoa would be far better off putting his energies into supporting the National Accreditation and Registration Scheme, which will regulate assessments across the country and provide opportunities for people to move around the country to support the needs of patients without having to go through several state registration processes. In my job at the Launceston General Hospital, I saw doctors who were rejected in Tasmania move to other states and be registered. I think this is not fair and not right for patients.