Specialist colleges off the hook on medical complaints


The federal government has rejected two key recommendations by a Senate inquiry into the medical complaints system, including a suggestion to force the specialist colleges to reveal the number of complaints made against members and trainees each year.

An initial inquiry was launched in early 2016 amid allegations that AHPRA was bullying doctors and that some doctors were abusing the complaints system by lodging vexatious notifications intended to damage their peers’ reputations and careers.

That inquiry was abandoned before it was completed as result of the election, but last December a second inquiry with different terms of references was launched and was charged with looking at whether the medical complaints system was fit for purpose.

In recent findings, the Senate committee made six recommendations including a call to compel specialist colleges to release the details of complaints about bullying and harassment made against members and for a further inquiry into the issue to held.

But in its response this month, the government did not support those suggestions finding that the decision to release figures should rest with the colleges and another inquiry was not warranted.

“Work is currently underway as a result of these reviews, in collaboration with jurisdictions and AHPRA, to make improvements to the Scheme, especially in relation to notifications and complaints processes. This work is expected to address the issues raised in (the recommendation).”

The government did support a suggestion that universities put in place compulsory education on bullying and procedures to deal with students’ complaints that arise from clinical placements.

It also supported a call for hospitals to review their codes of conduct to ensure they include a statement that bullying and harassment is not tolerated.

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