Health ministers have agreed to develop a “nationally consistent” approach to mandatory reporting laws.
It is welcome news for the medical profession, which has been lobbying for an amendment of the 2010 law which makes it mandatory for doctors to report a peer they reasonably believe has an impairment that places the public at risk of substantial harm.
At last Friday’s COAG Health Council meeting, health ministers agreed that doctors “should be able to seek treatment for health issues with confidentiality whilst also preserving the requirement for patient safety”, according to a communique.
“A nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting provisions will provide confidence to health practitioners that they can feel able to seek treatment for their own health conditions anywhere in Australia,” it said.
They agreed to begin consultation, starting with a discussion paper presented to doctor and consumer groups, with a proposed way forward to be presented to the council in November.
The AMA – which has been lobbying state and federal governments on the issue – welcomed the news.
AMA president Dr Michael Gannon said mandatory reporting was a major barrier to doctors accessing the care they need.
“The real work begins now. We need action from all our governments,” he said.
“The medical profession and the public need a sensible system that supports health practitioners who seek treatment for health conditions, while at the same time protecting patients.
“We urge all Health Ministers to work cooperatively to come up with an achievable agreed proposal at their next meeting.”