Victoria Leads National Reforms To Protect Patients From Dodgy Doctors And Health Practitioners

Victoria is leading a push for reforms to the national health workforce watchdog to ensure swift and decisive action can be taken to protect patients from dangerous and dodgy health practitioners.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy will today put a suite of measures to the Council of Australian Governments Health Council to overhaul the national health practitioner registration scheme to better protect patients.

The Andrews Labor Government is concerned the current national regulatory scheme, led by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, is failing to adequately protect patients from dangerous practitioners.

To close loopholes in the existing legislation and put patient safety front and centre, Victoria is proposing a package of reforms including:

  • Stronger powers to enable a National Board to take immediate action against a health practitioner where it is satisfied that it is in the public interest or for the protection of the health or safety of the community
  • An expansion of the range of actions that can be taken to protect the community such as providing notice to employers or other workplaces when misconduct or performance action is being taken against a practitioner they employ
  • Additional penalties and a review of current penalties for those medical practitioners found guilty of misconduct, in line with community expectations
  • Expanded powers to prohibit someone from providing health services where the practitioner is not a fit and proper person to continue providing a service
  • Penalties where a practitioner fails to inform a patient or an employer that they are subject to a prohibition order, or fails to include details of the order when advertising health services. Currently there is no penalty for breaching an order
  • A proposal for mandatory notification of medical settlement cases and writs, so both hospitals and patients are aware of any history of negligence or misconduct

This follows a recent directive from Ms Hennessy requiring all public hospitals to immediately review all chaperone arrangements currently in place, and proactively advise patients attending a clinician with a chaperone, so patients can elect to see an alternative clinician if they choose.

The Government has also commissioned a state-wide review of the health system’s response to allegations of sexual abuse by clinicians.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Victorians need and deserve a regulatory scheme that puts patient safety front and centre – that’s why we’re taking action to reform the system and give AHPRA the powers they need to do their job.”

“There have been too many cases where dodgy health practitioners have exploited loop holes in the national system to continue practising, putting members of our community at risk of harm. This is not good enough.”

“I want to assure Victorians and their families that we are doing everything we can to protect patients and put the right safeguards in place across our health system.”