HPARA, Healthcare and AHPRA — The good, the bad and the ugly

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Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's 1966 film 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' (screenshot via YouTube).

Dr Leong Ngand Dr Chandrika Barman trace the “care” in Australia's healthcare professionals. Despite steady advancements, the reality is grim.

SERGIO LEONE'S successful spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has evolved to enjoy more credible status throughout the world.

Similarly, Dr Bob Moles predicted a win by Derek Bromley. Publicised in Adelaide Now, it seems modest at the least but this semi-retired academic is churning remarkable stuff with his private enterprise, Networked Knowledge.

However, the adversarial system took the better of Bromley's hope with a judicial rejection just a few days after he won his right of appeal, although it is reported that he will appeal in the High Court of Australia.

This time, we are not dealing with cinema, but with that grim reality that inspires many cinematographic and artistic visions.

The spectacular win was that of Mr Henry Keogh's who was, until recently, Australia’s longest-serving falsely convicted former criminal — serving a sentence in excess of 20 years. He was released several years ago on the long road to freedom and is enjoying his modest compensation.

What is common is the ominous, retired and frail forensic pathologist, Dr Colin Manock. His fame preceded him and had been none the less salubrious as he was broadcast on Four Corners and in SA Parliament via Today Tonight in two parts (see part one and two). The SA Medical Board protected him via a sham peer review and then discreetly disbanded with caution after a non-show cause kangaroo court trial.

We now move the east to Surfers Paradise for the Third Annual Scientific Meeting of the Health Professionals Australia Reform Association (HPARA), held on 26 May 2018 and attended by a lower number of people after 2017’s ritzy presentation.

For 2018, one invitee, the managing editor of Independent Australia, David Donovan, humbly graced the conference with his presence. State health ministers, including the Hon Dr Steven Miles (Qld), the Hon Brad Hazzard (NSW), the Hon Jill Hennessy (Vic), the Hon Mr Stephen Wade (SA) were all invited. None found time to attend, nor did they send any representatives.

HPARA continues to press for reform of the wrongs of the Government in various forms. This is likely by state branches of the Australian Health Professionals Regulatory Agency (AHPRA), which administer different State versions of “National Law”.

We are intolerant of disingenuous people, including the Government — they are not welcomed.

Like cancer treatment, the advances are slow and steady, but eventually visible: the most glaring being the Senate Inquiries of 2016 and 2017 .

The Coalition of Australian Government's (COAG) Health Council (HC) meets every quarter or so and issues communiqués, where decisions are by absolute consensus rather than by a democratic majority.

It is a meaningful coincidence that it timed with AHPRA’s public announcement of the display of previous complaints (real and dismissed) of all registrants. This, of course, is against the rule of law and is, again, ultra viresPrevious writings by one of us remain true today.

At the HPARA meeting, there was a small poster displayed that was titled: 'A New Standardised Grading System for Peer Review of Clinical Performance'. It is reproduced here with permission of the authors. Another one compares the sham peer reviews conducted on both of us, the authors, one in 2005 and another current and ongoing.

The first poster also challenges the validity of an AHPRA commissioned document published in November 2017 and the Government is on notice about its gross falsities.

The second continues to show that business is as usual.

Was the rule of law adhered to? Like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

The meeting concluded with an open solution to the numerous problems by the regulator and COAG HC.

The call for Royal Commission into healthcare in Australia is again on the books.

On 16 February 2016, then-Federal Senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon, together with Dr Charlie Teo, called for a Royal Commission if the Senate Inquiry bombed. In Nov 2016, the CEO of AHPRA and Chair of the Medical Board of Australia, Martin Fletcheradmitted to hiring retired police officers with inconsistent training to investigate health practitioners including doctors. These formed the majority of AHPRA investigators.

A previous Royal Commission was called to make an inquiry into a trial concerning a hit and run accident by a former police prosecutor and barrister in South Australia. The defendant gave evidence that, due to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from horrific experiences as a police officer, he failed to stop give assistance and fled from the scene. He sought treatment 80 days after the event.  

In a similar situation in WA, a doctor was deemed to exhibit ‘infamous conduct’ (unprofessional conduct) for not stopping but going to the next town to the police to get the equipment needed to offer medical assistance. She took several years to clear her name at a cost.

Perhaps this is what AHPRA and her numerous bedfellows are — a mutual protection society.

At this time, we have another revelation by the Royal Commission into Banking.

Is the Government hiring such untreated retired former police officers with probable unaddressed PTSD? Are we doctors caring for their burden of untreated PTSD victims by being their victims? Are the ultra vires acts a direct symptom of untreated PTSD?

When the former police officer had to stop and assist a victim of car accident, he fled out of sheer madness. 

If such officers suspect someone (one of us) “on reasonable belief” to be mad enough to harm, do they make them fly and travel? This is to say, in and out to a capital city without an escort thereafter to meet their favourite “hired gun” doctor, whose office is near theirs? By doing so, are they seen to “protect the public”? Such reason of belief itself is a sign of untreated PTSD by the decision maker.

It was proposed by Dr Charlie Teo, at the close of the meeting, that perhaps HPARA may take over the role of AHPRA in the future in its functions. Perhaps so, in our view, for some.

Again, we live in interesting times!

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