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Peer review

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The Minister for Health, Mr Ralph Hunt, today urged

the medical profession to support the Australian Medical

Association in its efforts to introduce peer review in

Australia. '

Peer review — systems by which the work of doctors is

reviewed by other doctors — safeguards high standards of medical

care, and guards against the provision of unnecessary medical


Mr Hunt said it was now three years since he had

challenged the medical profession to introduce widespread

systems of peer review and asked the Australian Medical

Association to play a leadership role. "

During that time the Government had made $150,000

available to the AMA for this purpose and had also spent a

further $800,000 on other research studies.

1 The Association has adopted a strong leadership role

in the profession's pursuit of peer review systems,1 the

Minister said.

1 This is clear from a new report on the subject I

recently received from the AMA, and also from personal

discussions I have had with Association leaders.

'AMA activities have included the stimulation of

interest among the medical profession on the subject; the

production of a working manual entitled Clinical Criteria

Auditing; and the establishment, in conjunction with the

Australian Council on Hospital Standards, of a Peer Review

Resources Centre.' '

Mr Hunt described the latter as an important

development because it provided a reference centre from which

expert advice and assistance could be provided to doctors and

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other health service workers who wished to develop peer review

systems. .

The Minister continued: 'While I am pleased to see

that much has been achieved in the past three years, I am

nevertheless somewhat disappointed that progress has not been

as fast as I had hoped, and that comprehensive review systems

have not yet been introduced.

1 However, I am hopeful that events of the next year

or two will show that the progress made to date has provided

the momentum for a greatly expanded range of activities.

I In this regard I trust that the medical profession

will support the AMA with enthusiasm and energy in the pursuit

of its goal -- that is, the introduction of peer review as an

accepted procedure in all clinical departments of all hospitals

within the foreseeable future.

II trust that bodies like the Australian Council on

Hospital Standards and the Australian Hospitals Association

will also continue to give increasing support to the concept.

'The alternative to the development of systems of

peer review by those concerned with the actual provision of

care could, of course, be the introduction of some external

method of quality control.'

Mr Hunt said that he considered the time was now

appropriate for the various State Health Authorities to

provide added support to the medical profession in terms of

encouragement and resources necessary for the introduction of

peer review systems. . '

'Such action by the State Health Authorities would

do much to speed up the introduction of formal systems of peer

review' he said. .