RACGP applauds decision to end mandatory reporting of doctors

08 August, 2017

The Royal Australian College of Practitioners has expressed relief that Australia's health ministers have agreed to amend laws that discourage doctors from seeking the healthcare they need.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said today's Council of Australian Governments' Health Council meeting saw health ministers agree - that while patient safety is also paramount – medical practitioners should be able to seek healthcare without fear of being reported.

"GPs are the main treating doctors of all medical practitioners – and are currently required to report practitioners who seek help with a health condition that might affect their work," Dr Seidel said.

"Our faculties have been lobbying governments across Australia to adopt the West Australian model, which does not require a treating doctor to notify authorities.

"Although well intentioned, mandatory reporting laws are having the opposite of what's intended.

"Doctors are not seeking the healthcare they need for fear of being reported.

"This is driving issues underground and reducing, rather than increasing, patient safety.

"We need to look after the medical practitioners who look after everyone else in the community.

"Practitioners with health issues need to be supported – not reported.

"We are looking forward to working closely with the state, territory and federal health ministers to inform and shape nationally consistent legislation that meets the needs of patients and practitioners.

"Together we can strengthen support for practitioners with health issues and move away from judging and punishing them."

Other agreements from the meeting warmly welcomed by the RACGP included:

  • ministers to work with the RACGP to develop and implement a national training package to help reduce family violence
  • endorsement of the National Digital Health Strategy 2018-2022
  • recognition of the importance of vaccinations and the rejection of campaigns against vaccinations
  • development of the 2018 iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023.

More information about the Council of Australian Governments' Health Council is available on its website: www.coaghealthcouncil.gov.au