Last month, I was up in Brisbane for key strategic work meetings, including meeting up with Dr William Bay - a wonderful man who is not afraid to speak up and to speak out!
Dr William Bay serves his patients mostly in in-home care in the greater Queensland area.
He also set up the Queensland People's Protest Action Group.
More about Dr Bay later.
Today, I wanted to look at some developments in legislation which may raise an opportunity for advocacy and lobbying in relation to our medical rights and protections.
A Look at the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (Bill) was introduced into the Legislative Assembly and referred to the committee on 11 May 2022. Standing Order 132(1) requires the committee to determine whether or not to recommend that the Bill be passed.
After examining the Bill, including its policy objectives, and the evidence and information provided by Queensland Health, submitters and witnesses, the committee recommends that the Bill be passed. The Parliamentary Committee examined the Bill for compatibility with human rights in accordance with the Human Rights Act 2019.
The committee’s task was to consider the policy to be achieved by the legislation and the application of fundamental legislative principles – that is, to consider whether the Bill has sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of individuals, and to the institution of Parliament.
‘The purpose of the national scheme is to ensure that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in an ethical and competent manner are registered to practise’. - Mr Aaron Harper MP: Committee Chair
The Bill's Objectives
The objectives of the Bill are to amend the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law), as agreed by Australian Health Ministers on 18 February 2022, to:
strengthen public safety and confidence in the provision of health services
improve the governance of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions (National Scheme)
enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme
The explanatory notes state that the amendments in the Bill arise from the following reviews of the National Scheme:
Independent Review of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions – completed in 2014, and covered issues including governance, accountability, management of complaints and notifications, and public protection mechanisms23
Review of Governance of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (Governance Review) – completed in November 2017, and made 14 recommendations about the overall governance of the National Scheme, role and functions of National Scheme entities, the National Scheme’s interactions with states and territories and the appointment of state, territory and regional Boards
Independent Review of Accreditation Systems within the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions (Accreditation Systems Review) – completed in 2018, and made 32 recommendations to strengthen the education of the health workforce
Key reforms in the Bill include:
refocusing the objectives and guiding principles of the National Law to make public safety and confidence paramount considerations, and to recognise the National Scheme’s role in ensuring the development of a culturally safe and respectful health workforce for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;
introducing a power for national regulators to issue interim prohibition orders to prohibit or restrict unregistered practitioners from providing health services or using protected titles, similar to the power already given to the Health Ombudsman in Queensland;
introducing a power for the Health Ombudsman and national regulators to issue public statements about persons whose conduct poses a serious risk to public health and safety;
removing barriers to information sharing to protect the public and enable more efficient and appropriate resolution of notifications (complaints); and
improving processes by which National Boards make registration decisions and manage health, conduct and performance issues.
To accommodate the co‐regulatory arrangements for registered health practitioners, the Bill also amends the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (HO Act) and makes minor modifications to how certain amendments to the National Law will operate in Queensland.
If the Bill is passed, the amendments would automatically apply in all states and territories that are part of the National Scheme, except Western Australia, which must pass corresponding legislation, and South Australia, which must make regulations to apply the changes.
The Council of Australian Governments agreed, in 2008, to establish the National Scheme for health practitioners in Australia.
On 1 July 2010, the National Scheme came into effect, with the enactment of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) in all states and territories except Western Australia, which joined the National Scheme on 18 October 2010. Each state and territory has its own variant of the National Law.
The National Law regulates 16 health professions:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice
Medical radiation practice
“Under our co‐regulatory arrangements, the Office of the Health Ombudsman is the first point of contact for all health complaints with regard to registered and unregistered health practitioners as well as complaints in relation to the delivery of health services in this state. The Health Ombudsman may refer appropriate matters to national boards or AHPRA to deal with and ... the Health Ombudsman also has responsibility for oversighting unregistered health practitioners”.
The Bill inserts a new paramount principle into the National Law to provide that protection of the public and public confidence in the safety of services provided by registered health practitioners and students are paramount considerations.
Consequently, the Bill omits the existing modification provision to the National Law applying in Queensland, which provides that the health and safety of the public is already the paramount principle in Queensland.
The other existing guiding principles of the National Law are retained. These include that:
the National Scheme is to operate in a transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair way;
the fees required to be paid under the National Scheme are to be reasonable having regard to the efficient and effective operation of the scheme; and
restrictions on the practice of a health profession are to be imposed under the National Scheme only if it is necessary to ensure health services are provided safely and are of an appropriate quality.
Queensland Health stated that ‘Under this amendment, Ahpra, national boards and all other entities under the national law will be required to prioritise public safety and confidence in their actions and when they are making decisions’.
So, what do medical practitioners think about this new law and new national standard?
International Health Regulatory Standards
The Federation of State Medical Board supports America’s state medical boards in licensing, disciplining and regulating physicians and other healthcare professionals, with the end goal: keeping patients safe. They provide comprehensive information about the make-up, policies and work of state medical boards, as well as national aggregated data on physician licensure and discipline.
The International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities exists to support the world’s medical regulatory authorities in this endeavour. On their website, they declare: "through scientific, educational, and collaborative activities, IAMRA strives to encourage best practices among the world’s MRAs and to respond to both their current and future needs".
Their Vision is: Everyone around the world is treated and cared for by safe and competent doctors. Their Purpose follows: To promote effective medical regulation worldwide by guiding the medical profession and supporting best practice, innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing in the interest of public safety.
It has been asked: Is the FSMB the “enforcement arm” for Big Pharma? Few doctors realise that FSMB directives from this private US organisation have influenced how medicine has been practised around the world since 1913.
Why is there not more openness about such an influential body? What gives this secretive organisation the right to rule over doctors and the public, and even influence our New Zealand Medical Council policies, through their international arm?
And why, in 2022, are they now beginning a big push for censorship of health protocols and ideas and freedoms, through their manipulated claims of “disinformation & misinformation”?
In this crucial interview, a brave and caring doctor, who loves his profession, shares what he knows for the greater public good and to help doctors around the world to be able to practise without threats and coercion.
For more information, watch the interview titled: The Dark Truth of America's Federation Of State Medical Boards here.
You can find Dr William Bay's statement on behalf of the Queensland People's Protest here:
"QPP has now toured 24 different locations across QLD as part of our State Undemocracy Tour to bring awareness to residents that their MPs were complicit in the ending of parliamentary democracy on the 31st March 2022 with the amendment to the Public Health Act 2005 under section 362B (Reference No. 1) that gives the Chief Health Officer unreviewable powers to make any directive he believes is necessary as long as it is connected to preventing the spread of Covid-19. The CHO’s powers are absolute with the Supreme Court and the Premier unable to review them.
These powers are unconstitutional, illegal and immoral because they override all laws and considerations pertaining to due process, human rights, and basic Western freedoms like freedom to transact, speak and move. Consequently, this law cannot be allowed to stand.
Furthermore, the tyranny in QLD is set to be multiplied with the impending vote on the:
Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (Reference No. 2) which is before the QLD Parliament now.
It is a bill introduced by Health Minister Yvette D’Ath and was reviewed by the Health and Environment Committee headed by Chair, Aaron Harper member for Thuringowa, who disappointingly recommended the bill be passed.
The committee determined that the key objective of the bill was to strengthen public safety and confidence in the provision of health services.
The legislation’s key reform is to refocus the objectives and guiding principles of the existing National Law to make public safety and confidence paramount considerations.
It is worth noting that If the bill is passed in QLD it automatically applies to all state and territories except WA and SA which must (but will very likely) update their laws.
The threat of this bill is that it seeks to make “public confidence in health services” as the paramount principle of all our healthcare.
This is a radical departure from the previously well-established and respected principle of patient-centred care.
The RACGP and AMA have expressed concerns over this refocusing of healthcare, and professional indemnity insurance companies like MIGA and the Insurance Council of Australia have agreed that the term ‘public confidence’ lacks a clear definition and scope, and they raised concerns about how courts and tribunals would interpret the term.
The Queensland Peoples’ Protest argues strongly that the passing of this legislation will end the practice of medicine as we know it and will result in the death of informed consent, medical ethics, and the very lives of many Queenslanders and Australians.
This is because when treatment of patients is not guided by their individual circumstances (medical history, medications, allergies etc.) but by the principle of what makes the Department of Health in each state look most trustworthy; then mistakes and indeed, incorrect treatments of patients is bound to occur.
Mistakes in medical treatment will inevitably lead to patient deaths, deaths that can and will be directly attributable to the passage of this inherently unconscionable Bill.
The Queensland Peoples’ Protest urges all Queenslanders to write to their state MP and demand the blockage of this bill lest all our medical freedoms are eroded and unimaginable patient harm occurs to you or your loved ones."
Dr William A. Bay
MBBS (Hons.) M.Ed B.Bus Dip.F.S.
Leader of the Queensland Peoples’ Protest
GP Registrar, Brisbane, QLD Australia
1. Public Health Act 2005
2. Report No. 21 - 57 Parliament Health and Environment Committee July 2022
One thing is clear: we need to ensure that patients are able to continue their autonomy in making informed decision making when it comes to their own health, that consent should be upheld as a paramount medical principle, and the eradication of medical coercive practices needs to be prioritised.
We must continue lobbying and advocating for our health rights.
If you have a human rights complaint, book in a consult with Andrea Consults for human rights advocacy, and learn how Andrea can advocate for you!
Keep fighting the good fight!