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Over-75s may face MBA performance testing
GPs would be subject to mandatory, age-based performance testing if the Medical Board of Australia decides to start testing doctors over the age of 75, MBA chair Dr Joanna Flynn said.
Dr Flynn told MO the board “expects older doctors, like any other doctors, to be conscious of whether they are competent” and “ultimately, responsibility lies with the individual”, but that the board may consider mandatory performance assessments in the future.
“Some other jurisdictions are taking a more direct involvement in ensuring everyone is competent and that’s something that we might look at in the fullness of time,” she said.
Dr Flynn said while two recent MJA articles on issues relating to the transition from full-time practice focused on older surgeons, any move by the board to introduce an age-based assessment would include all registered practitioners.
Australian Doctors’ Fund CEO Stephen Milgate, who has championed the creation of a new registration category for senior doctors ‘stepping down’ their practice, said there was no evidence older doctors posed a higher risk to patients.
“The board would have to supply hard evidence as to why it would be putting this requirement on doctors,” he said.
AMA Queensland Retired Doctors Working Party chair Dr Frank Johnson said an annual health check from a GP would be more useful than performance assessments.
“Not many doctors would ignore advice from their GP if the GP felt they were losing manual dexterity or cognitive speed,” he said.
“If you start making it bureaucratic with checks by the board you’re really getting on the wrong track.”