A Senate Committee looking at AHPRA’s administration of registration and notifications appears to have heeded RACS’ concerns regarding mandatory reporting requirements for medical practitioners, and its concerns about notifications processing, amongst other issues.  RACS made a submission to the Senate inquiry in mid-2021 and was invited to participate in a hearing. The final report was tabled in early April 2022.

A key emphasis in RACS’ detailed submission to the inquiry was the college’s concerns regarding the mandatory reporting requirements for medical practitioners in place in nearly all jurisdictions under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. Dr John Quinn, who represented RACS at the senate hearing, noted that the system meant doctors ‘may delay seeking help, or not seek help at all for treatable mental health issues, which further endangers the doctor and also puts patients at risk’.

RACS and other stakeholders expressed support for the Western Australian model of mandatory reporting, a jurisdiction which has taken a different stance with regards to reporting regarding fellow medical practitioners. These views were taken on board with the final report recommending, ‘that the Ministerial Council agrees to remove the current mandatory reporting requirements and align the approach with the Western Australian model’.

RACS’ submission also emphasised the need to process notifications in a timely manner. These concerns were noted and taken on board with the report making a variety of recommendations aimed at improving timeliness of notifications processing.

The final report also acknowledged the college’s concerns about the registration standards of podiatric surgery. RACS had made the point that the accrediting authority for podiatric surgery, training and education is not the Medical Council of Australia, as it is for all other surgical specialities, but rather it is the non-medical Podiatry Accreditation Committee. It is RACS’ view that ‘this causes confusion for patients and can lead to poorer outcomes in comparison with work by specialist orthopaedic surgeons’.

The committee also made a recommendation that regulation of the title surgeon, ‘be progressed as a priority by the Ministerial Council’. This refers to a consultation which is ongoing in early 2022 to which RACS is making a submission regarding whether the title ‘surgeon’ should be restricted to particular medical practitioners.

RACS’ submission to the inquiry is available here.

The Senate inquiry’s final report is available here.