Healthcare, sham peer reviews and the way forward (Part 2)

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(Image courtesy of https://au.pinterest.com)

Dr. Leong Ng concludes his investigation into The Great Australian Sham Peer Reviews and asks: "Have we all been asleep or are we part of it?"

See Part 1 here

"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people”

~ Martin Luther King Jr

PART 2 concludes with some proposed and presented solutions with a simple analysis of the relevant part of the Australian Constitution based on a precedent case by Justice Gibbs of the HCA.

Doctored data are they "protecting the public"?

This is serious business as it involved senior members of the professions and colleges. Retired General Physician Dr Peter Lazzari’s impassioned presentation was damning and independently confirms existence of the dysfunctional and allegedly corrupt Victorian (even perhaps national) health system.

My question is where else do we have "doctored data" in Australia? Who are the culprits? When and how are they going to be held to account?

An innovative insurer’s solution

David Dahm, a charismatic Adelaide-based chartered accountant (and also certified medical practice manager), has always been able to innovatively think outside the box and to tactically advise doctors and practices of their obligations and optimal functions. His presentation that international standards — as opposed to self-proclaimed ‘Australian’ standards be adopted was well received and would provoke the Government to think global on health policy and funding. This illustrates a ‘duty of candour’ approach.

Some may now need to re-think is it good policy to adopt the current medical and health regulator’s model. He raises significant moral, legal, ethical issues that may have a significant impact on tax-payers, the health professions and patients.

Mr Dahm has previously (and presently) worked with government and has used, without formal legal process, his own analysis of the Australian Constitution with great success. For example, he quotes the commentary on a judgement of HCA Justice Gibbs on s 51 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act cited in the Melbourne University Law Review.

His hypothesis derives from the argument on another issue — that of misuse of Medicare items that of misuse of MBS items and the invalid prosecution of medical practitioners.

Description: https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gifEssentially, the precedent HCA Judgement ruled that the government does not have the power to interfere with the unique (sacrosanct) doctor-patient relationship — it is unlawful.

This essentially makes all AHPRA actions on registrants unlawful and this could lead to the organisation being only fit for solely registering applicants to practise and not trying to pursue their quasi-caring politicised role of ‘protecting the public’

In my own view, a current controversial matter linked to this affects those medical practitioners commencing practice after 1996 is s19 AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Cth). It also reignites the notion that if a Commonwealth Act conflicts with the Constitution, the latter prevails (see Leeming).

Some purportedly incestuous insurance companies and colleges may now need to leave the regulator’s bed.

The AGM: A public disclosure

The Constitution of the Health Professionals Australia Reform Association (HPARA) is unique. Whilst many societies and associations are like quasi unions and guilds (nothing wrong morally), the association’s push is compassion, cooperation, collaboration and unity with the public and to inform and assist governments to cause reform. Presently, it allows a non-professional membership at an equivalent rate. I proposed to the meeting that Public Action State Sub-committees should be now formed, devolving the much needed reform work to each state jurisdiction. It was seconded and adopted by the floor and the Committee was charged with fine tuning the proposal.

The inaugural committee was re-elected voluntarily with no changes for another term.

The future

It was clear that some delegates were not hopeful that a Royal Commission may be a solution for justice. They wanted a peaceful non-conflicted approach by those aggrieved. However, others only believed the opposite, which does have the power of Supreme Courts. 

The meeting spawned discussion and networking between many delegates. Infuriated volunteer barristers came on board as did medical Indemnity analysts.

No one mentioned the landmark VAGO’s report which was tabled in Victorian Parliament on 23 March 2016. Page 7 outlined the set of statutes which may be breached by workplace bullying. In that page was the Crimes Act 1958.

The ongoing Senate Inquiry continues to receive submissions till 13 May 2016. Whilst there may be merit in forcefully demanding a Royal Commission. If granted, this is long and expensive but supposedly extremely thorough. It can stretch back decades and have few limitations. A modified Royal Commission with immediate action plans may be construed.

Parallel to this a companion inquiry which recently completed hearing witness statements with a contemporary news report and the interim Senate Report. The two inquiries, though different are linked, though subtly.

Also a new member shared this website with us.

It appears that statutory bullying does exist and continues unchecked — perhaps escalating "to protect the public". The government must intervene with increased public interest awareness and opposition pressure. Numerous inquiries have referred to this with no action being planned. Lives are being threatened and people being harmed. 

May we live in interesting times.  


Essentially, the conference was about various facets of bullying and unlawful conduct within the health profession i.e. some of which Independent Australia had persistently highlighted with the ramifications around it.  

What is very clear is that bullying of health care workers by any party – patients, colleagues, the regulator – may lead directly and indirectly to patient harm and indeed harm or potential to all others, including the Government.

This may be indeed become a template for many endeavours in society and the subtle embracing of the elements of the US HCQIA credo of "guilty unless proven otherwise".

My personal disappointment was that the CEO of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA,) Mr Martin Fletcher, was invited but despite his request, was not offered a place on the podium. He did not attend. However, that may have been deliberately decided on to “protect him” from the public: HPARA cares.

It is hoped that AHPRA may reciprocate and formally invite HPARA to the IAMRA meeting in Sept 2016.

In my view, AHPRA’s propaganda of “protecting the public” must now be completely depolitisized, re-examined and urgently re-defined in policy with a "duty of candour" principle in the public interest. Its wide ranging implications in other spheres of life Australian led sham are also being uncovered, for example, in Papua New Guinea.

The present threat of double dissolution gives point-scoring opportunities for pollies to give it a fair go. But few know that this may mean the possible end of the ongoing Senate Inquiries and how other issues are similarly mishandled.

A newly formed association focussed on health reform (Health Professionals Australia Reform Association) has held its inaugural meeting, raising awareness of sham peer reviews, providing support for victims and paving the way for a Royal Commission into bullying within the healthcare profession. If you would like to learn more about HPARA please email hparacommittee@gmail.com, call 0499 399 081, or follow HPARA on Facebook HERE.

Disclosure: Following personal experience of professional bullying, Dr Leong Ng initiated a change.org petition for a Royal Commission into health sector bullying and collected sufficient signatures to network with similar victims and supporters. The health professionals in this group formed the not for profit organisation, Health Professionals Reform Association (HPRA) in June 2015. Leong is a founding committee member. The major mission is to effect a Royal Commission on the matter.

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