A Senate committee has made several recommendations to address bullying in the medical profession.
The Medical Complaints Process in Australia Senate inquiry report’s recommendations included that universities introduce compulsory education on bullying and that hospitals review codes of conduct.
The report revealed the committee received “considerable” evidence suggesting that the medical complaints process could "be used as a tool of bullying and harassment within Australia's medical profession".
Inquiry committee member and Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said he had heard “from a number of medical professionals in Tasmania about complaints under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency investigative process”.
Launceston orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gary Fettke in November spoke to the inquiry committee about bullying and the problems he encountered when trying to respond to AHPRA's investigation into his practice.
AHPRA and the Medical Board of Australia said they would “review the committee’s recommendations” and were already “taking action to do our part to address systemic issues, such as bullying and harassment”. Following a report recommendation, a new Senate inquiry into the complaints mechanism under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law was referred to a Senate Committee on Thursday.
More than 32 per cent of notifications completed by AHPRA received a full investigation or specialised assessment in 2015-16, and the remainder were closed following assessment, the report said. The AHPRA Annual Report revealed there were 105 cases under “active compliance monitoring” in Tasmania at the end of 2015-16. Notifications received relating to practitioners with Tasmania as their principal place of practice increased 12.6 per cent from 2014-15, reaching 242 in 2015-16.
The annual report showed there were 14,123 registered practitioners in Tasmania, an increase of 237 from the year before.