15 June 2017

Mandatory reporting reform gathers steam

Medicolegal Mental Health

NSW is a step closer towards ditching the controversial mandatory reporting rule for treating doctors, with the Medical Council of NSW voicing support for change.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard criticised the rule as a deterrent to help-seeking by unwell junior doctors, after a spate of recent suicides. Currently, treating practitioners face disciplinary action if they fail to report a colleague suffering from an impairment that could put the public at risk.

 “The Medical Council is supportive of Minister Hazzard’s consideration of amending the law to include an exemption for health practitioners who are providing care to other health practitioners from the mandated requirement to notify health impairment to AHPRA,” a council spokesperson said. 

This arrangement, allowing an exemption for treating practitioners, has been operating in Western Australia since July 2010.” 

There were 62 mandatory notifications of health practitioners and students under the law in NSW in the 11 months to May 2017, among a total 2198 notifications received.  Of the 62 cases, 22 were related to impairment and only 10 were lodged by a treating practitioner, the spokesperson said. 

NSW was the first state to introduce the rule, in 2008, in reaction to concern about the regulatory system after revelations of malpractice by now-deregistered gynaecologist Graeme Reeves, dubbed the Butcher of Bega. So far, WA is the only state to have eased the requirement.