Date Published: 12 April 2009
Stealthy approach lowers health standards
Doctors have accused governments of attempting to slip critical health legislation through state parliaments under the guise of national registration.
The legislation has already been rubber-stamped by Queensland’s Parliament and the other state health ministers have agreed to meet soon to push the legislation through their parliaments.
AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said health departments were trying to keep the legislation, which could have profound effects on health standards across the country, ‘under the radar’.
“This is legislation by stealth. The bureaucrats want to hand health ministers absolute power over health standards in Australia, and the only way they can achieve this is through a smokescreen called ‘national registration’,” Dr Capolingua said.
Doctors want national registration, but even the Productivity Commission agrees that registration and accreditation should remain separate.
“This legislation will legally empower ministers and bureaucrats to respond to workforce and budgetary pressures by lowering standards. A three-year course becomes a two-year course by ministerial decree. A hundred ‘surgeons’ are suddenly ‘trained’ when those responsible for the training know they can only properly train 20. Any course can be accredited, even when health professionals know it’s a sham.
This abandons international requirements of independent accreditation and potentially strips Australian medical training of its world-class status. Ministers will decide what is required to be a surgeon, a GP, a nurse, a dentist or a pharmacist – and the legislation is designed to ensure that not even parliament gets to voice a protest.”
Dr Capolingua said the legislation is now the subject of a Federal Senate inquiry, “but that’s no thanks to the bureaucrats who are trying to sneak it through state parliaments as a low key issue”.
“I can understand their desire to keep this quiet - patients demand higher, not lower standards. The legislation means any workforce shortage, from surgeons to pharmacists, from dentists to nurses, can be fixed with a wave of the ministerial wand. The bureaucrats will be rid of the medical insistence on high standards and the patients will be left to suffer.
We could be left with a generation of Australians forced to rely on health professionals qualified by ministerial decree rather than years of study, dedication and hard work.”