No pilot should fly a plane, no policeman should carry a gun, no miner should place explosives, no one should drive a train, and no doctor should practise medicine while impaired through mental or physical illness – or should they? Doctor health advisory services cannot report impaired doctors, they say, because doctors have stopped ringing for help since mandatory reporting came in (but WA legislative amendments remove mandatory reporting for health professionals treating doctors). Damaged consumers vs damaged doctor reputations; it’s a real dilemma.
In the last month, numerous press releases have touted various e-health solutions as IT operators follow taxpayer millions on offer via the National e-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA). One Qld company will not only connect GPs, Medicare, and ancillary health to save them time and money, it was a finalist in a business school comp and had a Young Australian of the Year on board! Providers in WA are jockeying for position too, including the federal and local AMA, who have tried to take a lead position, which includes three NEHTA appointees from WA. AMA members and IT buffs will remember the rigorous selection process that saw Peter Garcia-Webb and Trevor Lord take NEHTA board positions (ex-federal AMA e-health committee), along with the new WA NEHTA clinical lead Bernard Pearn-Rowe.
Now that Queenslander Tegan Leach didn’t get 7 years for procuring her own abortion, Marie Stopes has urged governments outside Vic and ACT to remove abortion from the Criminal Code. It cited a survey of over 500 GPs where 75% agreed with this idea, and 87% said termination services should be available to all women. Back in 2005, when Medical Forum surveyed 227 GPs in WA, 66% did not believe a doctor with a strong personal bias around termination of pregnancy is capable of providing balanced advice to an undecided woman and 78% said such a doctor should declare their bias to women before giving advice of any sort.
BB returns, maybe
Under Primary Health Care, Western Diagnostics has moved more towards bulk billing with a recent letter to referrers promoting the BB opt-in scheme for doctors, saying it was responding to referring doctors and “Medicare bulk billing is an important component of high quality and affordable health care”. However, when we checked, consumer information on their website makes no mention of this and says “it is our policy to charge private fees” and outlines their out-of-pocket gap limit of $190 for non-cardholders.
Dr complaints to us suggest that the Medical Board of WA was glad to hand registrations to the new AHPRA on October 18 – the WA web site caused problems, around 800 doctors were not registered a day before the Sept 30 deadline (despite Medical Forum contacting our readers by email to warn of the impending chaos). Seamless migration to the national website consisted of no searchable WA doctor database by Oct 19 but a note saying any doctor who paid $650 could be fast tracked back into registration – you call the 1300 number, pay $650, get the form and won’t have to prove your identity, verify your qualifications, verify English language skills, or provide registration history, work history or CPD declarations. Whoopee!