6 words that sum up what doctors think of Medical Board

Doctors health

By Michael Woodhead

11 Nov 2019

Medical practitioners have a negative view of the national regulator when it comes to trust and operating style, according to social research findings released by the Medical Board of Australia.

When asked which words they associated with the Medical Board, doctors chose terms such as bureaucrats (39%), controlling (17%), rigid (16%), ‘poor communicators’ (15%) and secretive (12%) at significantly higher rates than other regulated health professionals.

The findings, from a national survey that sampled 461 registered medical practitioners in November 2018, also showed that doctors were significantly less likely than other health professionals to choose positive perception terms such as  ‘for practitioners’ (18%), ‘decision makers’ (18%), competent (11%), trustworthy (8%) and advocates (6%).

Doctors were neutral in their perception of the Board when it came to terms such as regulators, necessary, administrators and ‘for the public’.

And in more bad news for the Medical Board, fewer than half the doctors (44%) said they felt confident that the National Board was doing everything it could to keep the public safe  (compared to 56% of all registered health practitioners).

Similarly, just over half of doctors (52%) said they trusted the Medical Board, compared to 62% of other health practitioners positive views of their boards.

Some of the responses cited by doctors for not having trust in the Medical Board included:

  • Lacks transparency, has no oversight.
  • Lengthy delays in decision-making.
  • Acts in adversarial manner. Focus on name and shame.
  • Does not focus on quality improvement and helping practitioners maintain practice
  • Too slow to respond to problems
  • Not sufficiently tough on bad doctors
  • Too lenient on clearly unacceptable behaviour.

Perceptions were even worse for the Medical Board’s parent body, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), with more than half perceiving it as bureaucratic (52%) and one in three (32%) saying they did not trust AHPRA.

But in a statement, AHPRA said it believed perceptions of the regulator and the various National Boards were generally positive.

“The broad sentiment is that it was a ‘rough and shaky start’, but a very solid foundation has been built. … relationships have matured, evolved and significantly improved overtime.

“Much of the hard work in establishing trust and confidence in the National Scheme has been completed and there is an opportunity now to move into a different phase and alter the tone of the conversation. A conversation that focuses on being proactive, rather than reactive. A conversation that focuses on support and confidence rather than fear and adversary.”

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