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Queensland cases highlight need for COAG to get medical registration right.

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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website :


AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, today called for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to abandon plans for a generic health practitioner registration system and instead pursue a system of improved links between State medical registration boards.

Dr Haikerwal said recent cases in Queensland have highlighted the need to protect the integrity and quality of the health system with proper safeguards.

“Australia needs the best possible medical registration system - anything less is simply not good enough,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“COAG recently made a commitment to establish a single national registration board to cover all health professionals, which would effectively be yet another unwieldy Canberra-based bureaucracy.

“The last thing the Australian public needs and the last thing doctors and their patients need is a another costly time-consuming bureaucracy.

“Even the Prime Minister is opposed to another Federal health body, saying in regard to public hospitals that ‘bureaucracy at a Federal level can be just as inefficient as at a State level’.

“What Australia urgently needs is a system of medical registration portability where State borders do not present barriers to doctors wishing to move to areas of workforce shortage and health need.

“The Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Committee (AHMAC) has already agreed to implement such a system that maximises doctor mobility and minimises red tape and other delays, without sacrificing quality.

“An improved medical registration system must include a process whereby information held by the State Medical Boards could be shared, including a secure system of transferring key data such as a doctor’s medical qualifications and personal history.

“The AMA is concerned that COAG’s grand plan for a generic health practitioner registration system will hijack the more important need for a better medical registration scheme that allows portability.

“As a result of the recent Queensland experience, Premier Beattie has made it very clear that his State wants no part of a generic registration system.

“Instead, Premier Beattie yesterday announced the re-establishment of a stand-alone Medical Registration Board.

“Premier Beattie said the advantages of his new Board would be a dedicated focus on quality and timeliness of medical registration and complaints handling, without competing priorities for the Board.


“This puts Premier Beattie in a dilemma.

“He will be promoting his State Medical Registration Board to the people of Queensland during the election campaign then, if re-elected, he will attend COAG and push for a less effective single national generic health practitioner registration system.

“It would be more responsible for Premier Beattie to show leadership now and convince COAG that his State Medical Board model is the way to go nationally.”

Dr Haikerwal said that, given the problems experienced in the Queensland health system, Premier Beattie had no choice but to make big changes to medical registration in his State.

Prior to yesterday’s announcement, the Medical Practitioners Board in Queensland was administered by the Office of Health Practitioner Boards in the same way the Boards for professions such as physiotherapists and psychologists were administered - the very model that COAG is now looking at for the whole nation.

Premier Beattie said yesterday that his new Medical Registration Board is by far the most complex and important of the health practitioner Boards and requires greater support and a dedicated team.

“Premier Beattie has finally seen the light on medical registration,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“The community places a higher level of expectation on its medical practitioners, and the medical profession has a higher level of expectation of themselves.

“It is now up to COAG to follow Peter Beattie’s lead and fulfil that expectation with a proper system for medical registration.”

16 August 2006

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761