AHPRA rapid review to focus on sexual assaults

2 minute read

Announced on Friday, the review will investigate failures to reform how the regulator processes complaints about sexual misconduct.

Australia’s health practitioner regulator is facing scrutiny for how it handles patient reports of sexual assault and misconduct.  

It is understood that Health Minister Mark Butler ordered the rapid review after viewing a preview of the Four Corners report due to air tonight. 

The program will focus in on a handful of the 160 doctors who have been sanctioned by tribunals for sexual misconduct involving patients and been cleared to return to work since 2010.  

An accompanying written piece on the ABC website has already named seven doctors who returned to practice after being disciplined, five of whom are GPs.  

The review announced by Mr Butler will analyse the previous attempts to reform AHPRA. He has not ruled out stepping in for another round of reforms if it is deemed necessary.  

“If [AHPRA’s] framework is falling short of protecting patient safety, then Australians rightly expect governments at all levels to work to strengthen it,” he told Nine newspapers.  

The ABC program will also investigate the lack of transparency afforded by the regulator and the evidence base for the conditions that AHPRA frequently imposes on doctors returning to practice after being sanctioned.  

“Because we invest so much in training our doctors … if they can be rehabilitated and returned to safe practice, that’s usually seen as a good thing,” public health doctor and law researcher Professor Marie Bismark told the ABC. 

“When it comes to sexual misconduct, I think it’s much less clear whether people can be effectively rehabilitated, and I think we really need good information about whether the conditions that are being imposed are effective or not.” 

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