October 2013 Newsletter

Heavy news flows relating to ASADA's concerns


I am going to try and publish a monthly newsletter that is aimed at keeping ASADA's members and friends up to date on what is happening in relation to senior doctors.

The last couple of months have seen a virtual "firestorm" of articles, much of it relecting AHPRA's increasingly desperate attempts to justify their $101m budget and perhaps their continued existence.

Since taking up the ASADA presidency I have been on a steep learning curve. There is widespread anger and angst. Many senior specialists and general practitioners on the verge of stepping back (retiring) are both distressed and bewildered by the changes that AHPRA is thrusting onto them. They feel victimised and alienated. There is such a lot of anger out there that I wouldn't be at all surprised if the AMA, RACGP, the various colleges and medical schools banded together with the aim of removing AHPRA from its medical oversight role. There is a clear appetite for this to happen.

A couple of members have written suggesting that I provide article summaries with links to the content and I have tried to do this via our News - Views forum, consequently much of what you will see below is available on the forum.

I look forward to ASADA members becoming more active and providing feedback, criticism and news that they themselves find relevant.

I found this snippet in the AHPRA_CORRECTED_transcript_170413_.pdf (Pages 19 - 200) to be of particular importance as it sheds light on the relationship between AHPRA and the MBA . I have used the perhaps inflammatory headline below to get your attention:

The MBA is AHPRA's creature.

Mr VINEY— The administrative cost of AHPRA, which if you like is the administrative oversight of all of the boards, did you say that was $1 million?
Mr FLETCHER—It is $101 million.
Mr VINEY—But there are the costs of the individual boards
Dr FLYNN—No. Mr Viney, when I was the president of the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria, Mr Mullaly was the CEO of the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria and the board paid his salary and all of the staff of the office that we had in Lonsdale Street. That office no longer exists. All of the staff are AHPRA staff, so as the chair of the medical board I do not have a physical office; I do not have my own staff. All of the staff are AHPRA staff. AHPRA do the work of the boards. The large bulk of the revenue that is collected from medical registration fees is contracted with AHPRA for doing the work.

You might like to see who makes up the AHPRA Board and their Administration to make a judgement if they have sufficient education to undertake medical judgements at an executive level.

MBA's Chair Dr Joanna Flynn's jihad against senior doctors

Dr J Flynn is targeting Australian senior doctors. Does anyone have a "historical' as to why? I have heard rumours and theories but if anyone has first-hand knowledge could they let me know.

Medical board states its case on retired doctors
"THE issue of retiring doctors’ ‘right’ to prescribe has hit a nerve in the medical profession. It goes to the heart of a conflict between what many practitioners regard as a hard-earned right and the Medical Board of Australia’s (MBA) statutory responsibility to protect the public." read the full article

Revalidation may target older GPs
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 hoped a revalidation scheme, likely to be three to five years away, would apply to all doctors, with the possibility of extra scrutiny for practitioners deemed more likely to underperform, such as older doctors. read full article

Revalidation: do doctors need it?
"Doctors in future will have to undertake regular evaluations of their competence and fitness to practice that go beyond current accreditation, registration and continuing professional development (CPD) standards."

That was the underlying message from Medical Board of Australia Chair Dr Joanna Flynn and former New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner Professor Ron Paterson at a forum on the controversial topic of doctor revalidation, held at the AMA National Conference. read full article

Question to AHPRA:
Recently published articles (Australian Doctor) suggest that medical practitioners who have been absent from practice for 1 - 3 years and not registered between one to three years, who want to write scripts or refer patients are required to apply annually for general registration.

Could you send me a link to the required form/forms and also a link to the details of the 'one year of CPD' that would be relevant for a retired doctor?

AHPRA Response:

Dear Dr Strauss
Thank you for your enquiry.
Please be advised that the information you have been reviewing refers to a particular cohort of medical practitioners who hold limited registration – public interest/occasional practice. This registration category allowed retired doctors to write scripts or refer patients but is being phased out.

Consequently, the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) has advised that these doctors who hold this category of registration and meet the MBA’s recency of practice registration standard are eligible to apply for general registration.

However, if you are not currently registered, then you are required to meet all of the registration requirements for general registration. You must be registered to write scripts and referrals.

Please use application form AGEN-30 if you would like to apply for general registration. http://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Registration/Forms.aspx

Only 50% of LRPIOP doctors re-join the general register: 12,640 years of medical expertise lost
Hundreds of retired doctors who this month lost the right to prescribe occasionally have decided to rejoin the general register rather than give up medicine all together.

At the end of September, 630 retired doctors lost their "limited" registrations which were granted in 2010 when the national scheme came in to force.

On 2/10/2013, the medial board announced that 316 (50%) of the doctors had opted to re-join the general register, 123 (20%) had joined the non-practising register, and 181 (29%) made no application.... read full article

Comment: This is an appalling loss for the Australian community. Most of the doctors affected have 40 years or more of medical education and practice. AHPRA doesn't seem to have considered the cost of replacing 12,640 years of medical expertise.

There remain a further 425 retired doctors with current "limited" registrations who will lose the right to prescribe/refer etc. in October next year.

Australia must be a very rich country to be able to toss away ~20,000 years of irreplaceable knowledge and expertise so blithely. And if the other 1,000 or so senior medical practitioners who weren't allowed onto the LRPIOP are added in we get around 60,000 years of medical experience and expertise flushed away with wilful disregard of the damage done to our profession and the broader Australian community.

After all of the above perhaps you need a bit of cheering up?

Boomers have much to offer writes Peter Beattie in The Australian
Many unemployed boomers have experience and knowledge that is going to waste. With a population of only 23 million, Australia needs them.

Governments and employers need policies and strategies to use their talents.

They are also a powerful political generation. Politicians ignore them at their peril. read full article

83 year old psychiatrist wins right to practice
AN 83-year-old psychiatrist refused re-registration after the Medical Board of Australia said his “rigid thinking” on attention deficit disorder (ADD) made him unfit to practise has had the decision overturned after a tribunal said strong views were not an impairment. read full article

Over the next few months I will present my research into which registration categories of medical practitioners are allowed to teach or mentor medical students. I'd appreciate any information that you have on this topic as it seems to be a multi-skinned onion type of issue. I am also seeking a clear  opinion on the legal status of AHPRA's defintion of practice -( to date I have been given conflicting advice from a Canberra based public prosecutor, a Queensland Judges senior assistant on a casual basis.) I am also interested to find out what powers AHPRA - MBA have over non registered retired medical practitioners.

Kind regards

Simon Strauss
President ASADA