Communications and Advocacy update: 9 December
9 December 2021
Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:
- Private practice and unvaccinated patients
- Optimal Care Pathway for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer
- 2022 State Budget Submission and Victorian State Election Working Group.
Private practice and unvaccinated patients - update
AMA Victoria continues to receive inquiries from members seeking greater certainty regarding whether they can decline to see unvaccinated patients in their clinics. For a previous update on this topic, please see: Private practice and unvaccinated patients: 27 October 2021. Unfortunately, the situation continues to be characterised by a lack of clarity.
There are currently no formal guidelines in place in Victoria which determine that it is legally permissible for private specialists to refuse to undertake face-to-face consultations with unvaccinated patients in non-emergency situations.
Accordingly, if medical practitioners refuse to undertake face-to-face consultations with unvaccinated patients in non-emergency situations, there remains a risk of a notification to Ahpra on the basis that their conduct may be below the standard expected and that they may pose a current or future risk to patient safety. In order to mitigate against the Medical Board taking regulatory action, medical practitioners should take all reasonable steps to ensure unvaccinated patients are not denied access to medical care. AMA Victoria’s legal partner, Kennedys, has provided examples of what may constitute such steps. These include:
- having a dedicated examination room for unvaccinated patients
- having dedicated appointment times for unvaccinated patients
- requiring proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test being a condition of attending face-to-face consultations
- offering to provide a referral to another medical practitioner who is able to offer face-to-face consultations to ensure continuity of care.
As foreshadowed in the previous update, we have contacted Ahpra and urged for greater clarity for medical practitioners in this area. We have also brought this issue to the attention of the Victorian Government, pointing out the incongruity of private medical practice being given little direction whilst many other industries are provided with detailed guidelines. We will continue to press the case with government for greater certainty on behalf of our members.
For more information on the situation in Victoria, and for a global perspective on refusing to treat unvaccinated patients in non-emergency situations, please see: Refusal to treat unvaccinated patients in non-emergency situations: a global healthcare perspective - Kennedys (kennedyslaw.com).
Optimal Care Pathway for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer - consultation
Members are encouraged to provide input into the latest draft Optimal Care Pathway (OCP) for Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA) with Cancer.
The expert working group developing the OCP is chaired by Prof Ian Olver, Professorial Research Fellow at The University of Adelaide, South Australia. The group includes national leaders in oncology and adolescent health, across an array of disciplines involved in the care of AYA with cancer from sites across Australia.
Unlike the existing suite of OCP resources developed by Cancer Council Victoria and other organisations, the development of the OCP for AYA with cancer is aimed at a population group versus a specific disease, and will address a current gap in the provision of evidence-based, nationally consistent delivery of optimal care for all AYA with a cancer diagnosis.
The document can be accessed via the Victorian Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service website by clicking here.
The final version will be submitted to the Commonwealth Government for consideration and endorsement in the new year.
If you would like to contribute towards AMA Victoria’s response, please provide your written feedback on the OCP to Lewis Horton at LewisH@amavic.com.au by Friday 17 December.
2022 State Budget Submission and Victorian State Election Working Group
State election years are an excellent opportunity for advocacy groups like AMA Victoria to lobby for and achieve advocacy aims. The 2022 State Budget Submission and Victorian State Election Working Group will commence its planning process shortly, and will be influential in informing and guiding AMA Victoria’s advocacy in 2022. If you wish to participate in this group, please submit your expression of interest in writing to Lewis Horton at LewisH@amavic.com.au as soon as possible.