Senior doctors harness grey vote

24th  Jul 2012

Mark O’Brien

SENIOR doctors have formed ranks and will draw on the power of the ‘grey vote’ to continue their battle to keep limited registration after next year.

Traditionally, retired GPs and other doctors had retained the right to refer patients and write repeat prescriptions but the introduction of the national law in 2010 put an end to the limited registration (public interest – occasional practice) category they held.

Doctors already registered in that category, which does not involve the same professional development requirements or the same fee as full registration, were allowed to maintain that registration until 2013, and no new occasional practice registrations were allowed.

But president of the newly-formed Australian Senior Active Doctors Association Dr Frank Johnson said senior doctors would not take their de-registration lying down.

“They suddenly decided if you retired after June 30, 2010 you were a danger to public safety and you either had to maintain all registration requirements or go to Billy-O,” Dr Johnson said.

“We want the present category of limited registration (public interest-occasional practice) made permanent, and access to it given to anyone who retired in the intervening years.

“Our aim now is to increase awareness in the older population because people are not aware of what’s going on.”

Australian Doctors Fund (ADF) CEO Stephen Milgate has campaigned for senior doctors to retain limited rights and said older Australians commanded a lot of respect at the ballot-box.

“The over-55s group is the most powerful demographic in Australia,” he said.

The Medical Board said in a statement last year the public interest was best served “by making sure that a doctor’s ‘right’ to prescribe and refer is linked to their responsibility to provide safe patient care”.