New legislation introduced in Queensland, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, will greatly enhance the government regulator’s powers for censoring doctors in Queensland.
The Bill grants APHRA new and unprecedented powers for coercively silencing doctors who stray from the officially mandated ‘narrative’ and will prevent vital information ever reaching the ears of the Queensland public.
The new bill overturns centuries of medical ethics by replacing the principle that a doctor’s loyalty must, first and foremost, be to the well-being of their patient, and replacing it with a new principle, that of upholding and safeguarding ‘public trust’ and ‘confidence’ in public health authorities.
The Explanatory Notes say the regulatory body will be free to take action against a doctor in any way it deems “necessary or convenient” to ‘safeguard’ public confidence and safety.
The Bill also gives APHRA the power to publicly ‘name and shame’ doctors before they have even been found guilty of anything.
This robs Qld doctors of their rights as citizens to the ‘presumption of innocence’, ‘natural justice’ and ‘due process’.
It also takes away a doctor’s right to practice their profession without political harassment or interference.
This is a very dangerous, slippery slope for medical care in Queensland.
Doctors should be free to engage in clinical debate on the effectiveness of treatment options and to advise their patients honestly on any matter raised during a doctor-patient consultation.
If doctors aren’t allowed to discuss alternatives to standardised medical options in Qld, then the legal requirements for informed consent can’t be satisfied and the standard care for their patients will suffer.
If we aren’t careful, health protocols in Queensland will no longer be based on experience and evidence-based medicine, but on the diktats of government health officials and regulators who have never treated a single patient in their lives.
By delegating such unlimited powers to AHPRA, the Government has virtually handed them a blank cheque to do whatever they like.
There are no clear avenues for appeal or redress in the bill, for doctors unfairly targeted by AHPRA, even when subsequently cleared of all wrongdoing.
It is also important to note that AHPRA is an unelected, bureaucratic agency that answers to absolutely no-one.
This means that nothing they say or do is subject to questioning, verification or independent review by any jurisdiction in the country.
APHRA must not be given the last word on what ‘truth’ in medicine is. There must always be room for ‘dissenting’ views and debate in a healthy and functioning democracy.