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Health Bulletin

Russell Kennedy Health Insights 30 August 2018

The latest insights from our Health Law team.

In this edition:

Learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Health sector here.

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Special summit of experts to assess rural maternity services in Queensland

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In a media statement dated 12 August 2018, the Queensland Government announced that it will convene a special summit of experts to assess the provision of maternity services in rural and remote parts of Queensland.

The media statement provided that Queensland Health takes into a range of factors when assessing the ongoing viability of services, and clinicians need to be undertaking sufficient levels of activity in a specialist clinical area to ensure the quality of the service.

The Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Mr Steven Miles emphasised the need for sufficient number of clinicians to ensure a viable service model that includes on-call, access to a skilled extended clinical support team and access to intensive care or other more specialised services should things go wrong.

Read the Media Statement here.

Tribunal upholds patient Review Panel refusal to provide IVF treatment to couple

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A couple, with the pseudonyms RGJ and OMU, sought IVF treatment as RGJ had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and they had struggled to conceive.  However, they were refused treatment because OMU had been convicted of a violent offence, which trigged a presumption against treatment under the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic) (Act).

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)reviewed the merits of the decision of the Patient Review Panel to deny treatment.  VCAT found that, because of the historical threat to inflict serious injury, there was a barrier to treatment under the Act.  Allowing treatment was held to be inconsistent with the best interests of the child who would be born because there would be a significant risk of harm arising from the violence and conflict the couple had experienced in their relationship.

In making their determination, VCAT emphasised that they were “not making a value judgment about RGJ and OMU as people or as potential parents” or “predicting that a child born to RGJ and OMU would be harmed”.  However, VCAT was nevertheless obliged to refuse IVF treatment by putting the welfare and interests of the potential child at the forefront of their inquiry.

You can read VCAT’s full reasons for the decision here.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) raises concerns on revised Code of Conduct for Doctors

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The AMA submitted commentary on the revised Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia to the Medical Board of Australia.

The AMA’s President Dr Tony Bartone stated that the “Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia (2018)” includes several vague and unclear statements which would likely cause difficulties for doctors in complying with their ethical and professional requirements under the Code.

The AMA found section 2.1- Professional values and qualities of doctors to be particularly problematic, as this appears to restrict the public commentary of doctors. It also outlined that doctors must comply with relevant laws such as the Border Force Act 2015 (Cth) which previously threatened imprisonment for whistle-blowers. This was deemed to oppose doctor’s code in relation to acting in the patient’s best interests and make this their primary concern.

For the AMA’s general and specific comments please click here.