Qld Medical Board ASADA Member? Qld. Ombudsman queries, Ageism.

Queensland Medical Board advertises for a new member

This email was sent to me by Jock Anderson. Imagine what having an ASADA member on the board would mean for Australia's senior doctors.


There is an ad to fill a vacancy for a Board member from Queensland on the website now, see http://www.medicalboard.gov.au/News/2014-06-27-call-for-applications-medical.aspx.

The member must practice his/her profession in Queensland and must be registered.  “Practising” might be a problem, but it could be worth a shot on the grounds that we are wise, of high integrity etc etc  and would be a voice for an otherwise unrepresented cohort (as the HCCC calls us). 

Have a look.  It closes on Monday.




Our next ASADA Teleconference is Monday evening.
6pm Sydney time. (21/July/2014)

Amongst the matters to be discussed:

As president of ASADA I am contemplating contacting the (new) Qld. Health Ombudsman. The issues I plan on presenting if members agree are:

1. That non-registered retired medical practitioners be given back the right to call themselves Retired Medical Practitioners

2. A plain English ruling on what assistance a non-registered retired medical practitioner can provide in an emergency and non-emergency setting

3.  A plain English ruling on what assistance a registered non-practicing medical practitioner can provide in an emergency and non-emergency setting

4.  A plain English ruling on what the Good Samaritan and Duty of Care actually mean for both non registered and non-practicing registered practitioners as there appears to be a conflict between these and AHPRA’s definition of practice ........ Ends

If you would like to help me refine and or expand the above I’d be grateful. I have no experience in these matters and I wonder if I need to argue the case or expand on them in the initial submission? Please help me to get it right... these are powerful issues and getting a clear ruling would be of use/benefit to us all.

Ageism and Age Discrimination – Against Doctors

ASADA committee member Professor Philip Morris has written to Susan Ryan Age Discrimination Minister responding to an article* published in the  Medical Observer that I have reproduced below:

*Revalidation may target older GPs

18th Mar 2013

Byron Kaye

The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) may target older doctors among groups deemed high risk as part of its proposed rolling revalidation scheme, MBA chair Dr Joanna Flynn said last week.

Dr Flynn said she had already spoken to Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan, who told her the board could target older doctors if evidence showed they were higher risk.

Ms Ryan believed “targeting people on the basis of age alone is discriminatory, but if you‘ve actually got evidence that they’ve got greater risk then it might justify targeting some intervention”, Dr Flynn told reporters at a revalidation conference.

Philip, Stephen Milgate and I have had a look at the literature and cannot find any evidence to support the claim that older doctors pose a significant risk to the community.

The Hon Susan Ryan AO
Age Discrimination Commissioner
Australian Human Rights Commission

Level 3 175 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2001


Dear Susan Ryan,

I would be grateful if you could read through my article below on age discrimination against doctors.  This article covers much of the same ground as your recent article published in the Age on 3 June but from the perspective of age discrimination against older doctors.  My article is published on my website www.drphilipmorris.com.

The chair of the Medical Board of Australia, Dr Joanna Flynn, was reported at a revalidation conference on 18 March 2013 (see reference below) as saying that the medical board would target older doctors as they were deemed to be of high risk and justified this form of age discrimination because she claimed that you had approved it.  She was quoted as saying that you told her that “targeting people on the basis of age alone is discriminatory, but if you’ve actually got evidence that they’ve got greater risk then it might justify targeting some intervention”.

In my view, as argued in my article below, there is no place to target individuals on age alone.  All should be dealt with on their merits.  But if one might consider overriding this general principle in special circumstances, the evidence for age discrimination must be credible, persuasive and substantial.  As far as I am aware there is no evidence of this nature to support the claim that older doctors pose a significant risk to the community.  Unless the medical board and other regulators can provide convincing evidence of harm to the community I believe your responsibility, as Age Discrimination Commissioner, is to protect older doctors from age discrimination from these bodies.

I would be pleased to provide more information if required.  I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Morris

Ageism and Age Discrimination – Against Doctors

Ageism and Age Discrimination – Against Doctors!

Ageism is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age.  Three elements make up ageism: prejudice against older people; discrimination against older people; and practices and policies that perpetuate stereotypes about older people.  Age discrimination is one of the more common forms of discrimination reported to civil rights authorities – now surpassing discrimination on the base of gender, race, or sexual orientation.

I started thinking about this after hearing the Commonwealth government proposal to gradually increase the retirement age to 70.  At one level this proposal holds older persons in positive regard in that competency to work is considered to continue to at least age 70!  For many older workers in sedentary and professional roles this is within their capacity especially as the longevity of the Australian population increases.  However this proposal may not be so welcome to individuals who have worked in heavy manual positions all their lives – retirement much earlier might be attractive!

One of the reasons put forward for a later age of retirement is to provide a longer working career for individuals to accumulate superannuation, and, the theory goes, to be less reliant on the government old age pension.  But this can only happen if older persons can retain employment during fifties and sixties and contribute to superannuation.  Currently this is problematic – individuals in Australia at this stage in their lives find it difficult to find and continue in employment in salaried positions.  Why?  Age discrimination.

Despite the experience, the positive attitude and work discipline, and the low absenteeism of older workers, employers both public and private overlook employing older workers.  Employers do not want to take on individuals who due to their age have the experience to distinguish between productive versus self-serving management reorganizations – usually proposed by middle and upper management as enhancing efficiency when the real reason for the reorganization is to entrench new managers in their positions by bringing in loyal deputies.  Employers do not want to take on older workers as salaried staff because they cannot be easily coerced into work practices that disadvantage them because the older workers are not susceptible to being ‘bribed’ by promises of future promotion – the older worker has a shorter time frame to consider!

The only form of employment available to the lucky few older individuals is contract work.  Fortunately the medial profession is privileged in this regard, especially for those in private practice, as many are employed on ‘contracts’ – not by employers, but by patients – one patient at a time.  But older doctors not in this position are subject to the same employment age discrimination faced by the wider community.

In the medical profession ageism presents itself in the use of stereotyping to characterize older doctors as inefficient, slow, bumbling, cognitively impaired, and potentially ‘dangerous’.  This is despite any convincing evidence that healthy older doctors have any of these problems, or are any different to healthy younger doctors.  This attitude leads to age discrimination – pure and simple.

A much more positive approach is to argue for the principle that older doctors should not be discriminated against and they should be encouraged to achieve their full potential, at all ages of their careers.  All people, including doctors, should be dealt with on their merits, not based on prejudiced stereotypes.  Medical associations and medical registration boards should regard older doctors on the basis of what they can do rather on what they cannot do.  In the general community it is the law for people to be deemed as being of sound mind or having capacity unless proven otherwise.  In my opinion it seems when it comes to older doctors the attitude of some professional organizations is to assume older doctors lack capacity unless it is proved they have capacity!  This is a complete reverse of the situation applying to the general community and an attitude reflective of ageism.

Older doctors like younger doctors can get sick.  Some illnesses affect the capacity of the doctor to carry out their professional duties.  Medical boards already have wide powers to investigate these situations and limit or remove the right of an unwell doctor to practice.  This authority must be based on the assessment of the merits of the individual case, not on prejudiced stereotypes based on the age of the doctor.

Medical boards should not target older doctors as a group.  There is no credible evidence that healthy older doctors pose a higher risk to the community than younger doctors.

The Australian Senior Active Doctors Association (ASADA) is a group that represents and advocates for older doctors.  ASADA asks for nothing more than the elimination of ageism and age discrimination against older doctors by medical associations, professional organizations, medical boards and employers.

ASADA will also campaign for a step-down category of medical registration for all doctors (younger or older) who no longer want to be fully registered but who wish to continue practice in a more limited fashion.  In other words doctors who want to ‘step down’ but not ‘step right out’.  ASADA will propose an appropriate registration fee and professional development regime to accompany this category.  For more information about ASADA and its policies go to www.asada.net.au.

Prof Philip Morris


If you'd like to suggest a topic for discussion or bring a motion please email me and I will table it.

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As you can see I am asking ASADA members to step up and help your committee to set a new course for Australia's senior medical practitioners. It is time for all of us to get involved!