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Inquiry finds that AHPRA remains ‘a large and complex bureaucracy’
12 March 2014
The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Performance of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) found that there remains several performance issues that require attention including: time delays with the health complaints process, lack of transparency and accountability, and inconsistent decision making.
Consistent with AMA Victoria’s 2013 submission to the Inquiry, the final report recommends that:
The health practitioner registration fee increases no greater that CPI increases and that such be enshrined in the National Law.
This is a sound recommendation, as in the three years since the national scheme’s implementation, medical registration fees have increased by 59.83 per cent. AMA Victoria supports this recommendation as doctors must be registered in order to practise medicine and the increased registration fees outstrip other price rises in the economy.
Similarly, AMA Victoria supports the Committee’s recommendation:
That AHPRA be required to provide on-going funding for the continued operation of the Victorian Doctors’ Health Program and Nursing and Midwifery Health Program to support Victorian registered practitioners in these professions. That such funding be provided without increasing health practitioner registration fees in real terms.
The Victorian Doctors’ Health Program (VDHP) provides mental health and support services to doctors. Each year, around 200 Victorian doctors approach the VDHP for the first time, and countless others rely on it for ongoing support. A 2013 beyondblue survey found that doctors reported substantially higher rates of psychological distress and attempted suicide compared to both the Australian population and other Australian professionals.
The VDHP was previously funded by the now defunct Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria through of levy of $25 per registered medical practitioner. As AHPRA is a national scheme, and despite the steep increase in registration fees, the continued funding of the VDHP remains uncertain: we welcome the Committee’s recommendation.
“AHPRA’s first twelve months were highly dysfunctional. One of AMA Victoria’s most pressing concerns was the high number of doctors who were unable to process their registration – and thus were unable to practise medicine. It was a bureaucratic nightmare,” AMA Victoria President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said.
“However, there have been improvements to their processes, and AHPRA has made a considerable effort to work with the medical profession to improve their protocols. There is still room for further improvement.
“AMA Victoria supports the Inquiry’s recommendation to halt any increase in medical fee registrations beyond inflation and the continued funding of the VDHP in its present form,” Dr Parnis said.
Media & Public Affairs Officer
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9280 8753
Mobile: 0437 450 506