ADF Senior Doctors Should Be Valued, Not Discarded – 24 March 2011

“Reports of demand pressures on General Practitioners should give impetus to reform of the registration categories for doctors in their later years of practice”, Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Stephen Milgate, said in Sydney today.

The ADF has proposed a new category of ‘Senior Active’ medical practitioner to encourage doctors to continue to contribute in their senior years. This category would be made available but not be made compulsory to doctors over 55 years old who want to scale down their medical practice but still contribute.

“Recent changes in medical registration instituted by the new COAG health bureaucracy known as AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) have removed step down categories for doctors and created an ‘all in’ or ‘all out’ system.”

“Our senior doctors are being pushed out by the dead hand of mindless bureaucracy”, Mr Milgate said. Because AHPRA is owned by no individual health minister (reports to nine health ministers) it is extremely cumbersome to remedy defects in the registration system.

The Medical Board of Australia is also powerless to act without directions from AHPRA. Under the ADF plan, doctors could elect categories of service delivery which suits their changing life requirements and capacity in the later years of their professional life.

The system would require an annual medical check by a medical practitioner (usually their GP) to verify the health and ability of the doctor electing a Senior Active category. Our proposal is designed to mobilise the army of doctors who would still contribute, but under new AHPRA rules devised by the mindless bureaucracy driving COAG, have to elect a registered non-practicing category.

“Not only is this an absolute waste of talent, it is also contrary to federal Labor and Liberal policy which is urging more senior Australians to extend their work life”, Mr Milgate said. The ADF proposal is being circulated around the profession for further discussion and will be sent to all state health ministers urging them to direct AHPRA to review its policy on senior doctors and to embrace reform.