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Government report confirms need for better assessment of overseas trained doctors.



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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 : http://www.ama.com.au/

GOVERNMENT REPORT CONFIRMS NEED FOR BETTER ASSESSMENT OF OVERSEAS TRAINED DOCTORS

Details of an unreleased Government report published in The Australian newspaper today confirm the urgent need for more rigorous assessment of the skills and qualifications of overseas trained doctors (OTDs).

The report found that systems to check the credentials of OTDs had not improved since the Jayant Patel scandal in Bundaberg.

The AMA called on the Government to toughen visa entry requirements for OTDs in a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration in February.

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said the Government study shows that the number of OTDs coming to Australia continues to grow, with around 2500 from diverse backgrounds arriving each year, many of whom are from non-English speaking backgrounds.

“It seems that authorities have still not learned the lessons of the Patel case,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“There are still no consistent assessment arrangements in place, so it is still quite easy for temporary resident overseas trained doctors to gain registration with only a cursory examination of their qualifications and experience.

“Even where agreed assessment processes are put in place, they are being ignored.”

Overseas trained specialists are supposed to be assessed using the Australian Medical Council (AMC) specialist assessment pathway via a College, yet the AMC appears to see only around a third of the doctors coming here to work in specialist positions.

The AMA supports the report’s recommendations for better data collection on OTDs, a standardised assessment process for OTDs, and access to ongoing training to bridge any gaps in their knowledge, all of which will help them attain full registration.

Dr Haikerwal said the Commonwealth is trying to coordinate a national framework to improve and standardise the assessment and support processes for OTDs, and the report adds weight to that push.

“All governments must commit more resources to fund better assessment processes for OTDs,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“All the States and Territories should be giving 100 per cent support and commitment to the Commonwealth to put these systems in place, but some States are not totally committed to the cause.

“If they don't pull their weight soon, the Commonwealth will have to tighten visa requirements to require proper assessment of OTDs before they are granted a visa.

“Meanwhile, the threat of another Patel situation remains very real,” Dr Haikerwal said.

23 March 2007

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761