Election - Warren Truss (member for Wide Bay).
Election - Warren Truss (member for Wide Bay). Alistair Brightman

Call for tougher doctor scrutiny

DOCTORS must stiffen their approach to self-regulation if they are to counter accusations of self-interest, according to Federal MP Warren Truss.

Mr Truss said lax screening and a perception that misconduct often escaped sanction could damage the profession.

“If they want to be self regulated they have an obligation to do that in a way that meets public expectations,” Mr Truss said.

“Sometimes there is a view in the public that there is a club which tends to protect people from within the profession rather than expose them.

“The people have the right to expect that the regulatory arrangements will work well and guarantee that only those people of the highest integrity are placed in that position of trust.”

Mr Truss' comments came in response to recent revelations that a doctor with convictions for rape and assault, and with a history of drug addiction, was practising medicine in Hervey Bay.

Dr James Samuel Manwaring served a jail term after entering a guilty plea.

Dr Manwaring has been struck off the medical register twice.

Mr Truss also raised concerns about how the expected wave of general and specialist registrations due as of June 30 would be handled by the newly formed Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency.

Mr Truss said the first phase of transition from a state to a national regulatory system had been a “debacle” under the same 2009 law that created the agency.

“Establishment of the new agency ... caused great hardship, financial and personal losses to a large number of medical practitioners and that is simply unacceptable,” Mr Truss said.

“The task they are taking on is a much bigger task in 2011 so it will be a real test for their competence.”

Mr Truss said he understood there had been little or no scrutiny of doctors during the transition to the national system.

According to Mr Truss, when the new national body commenced operation on July 1, 2010, doctors were “automatically re registered at the state level”.

“(The agency) didn't do that very efficiently; there were long delays and thousands whose registration papers were lost; others were automatically de-registered,” Mr Truss said.

“That impact resulted in a senate inquiry into the issues ... and made a number of recommendations about tightening up the system and making it work better.

“It is my advice that this 2011 re-registration process is going to include a new review of the competence and history of each of the persons applying for registration.”

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