A confidential briefing descends into a slanging match.

Is AHPRA now complicit in patient harm?

ASAPS has been urging AHPRA, Australia’s health regulator, to do what it has been tasked to do, which is protect patients. Why should cosmetic surgery have any lesser standards than all other forms of surgery, where lives can just as easily become permanently changed by a procedure?

Dr Robert Sheen, President of ASAPS, is calling for the government to step in, as AHPRA is proposing a further weakening of rules that are designed to protect patients, and at best to maintain the current mess. In this front page newspaper article, Dr Sheen demands urgent change in order to prevent more patients being butchered by practitioners who have not completed Australian Medical Council accredited surgical training.

Article published August 30th 2022 – Sydney Morning Herald

A confidential briefing organised by the national health regulator days before the release of a report into the $1.4 billion cosmetic surgery industry has deteriorated into a slanging match, with the regulator accusing doctors of failing to report patient harm and a medical practitioner calling for regulators to resign.

The report into the sector, to be released on Thursday, will outline 16 recommendations, including the creation of a cosmetic surgery enforcement unit inside the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), a confidential cosmetic surgery hotline and an endorsement pathway for cosmetic surgery training, it was revealed.

There is also a proposal to create a complaints committee, which Anne Tonkin, the chair of the Medical Board – one of 15 boards that AHPRA oversees – admitted had only been decided a week ago. This timing coincides with the latest joint media investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes which exposed wrongdoing in the sector and outlined how the regulator was failing to keep patients safe.

The secret briefing on Monday, organised by AHPRA for health experts and industry insiders, was told the cosmetic surgery industry was different to other parts of the medical industry because it had a unique mix of money and vulnerability.

“Some appear to place profit over patient safety,” participants were told by Tonkin.

She said one issue was a weak safety and reporting culture among doctors and if the regulator could turn the tide on the significant under-reporting of patient harm, regulators would act more quickly to keep patients safe.

“We need to find out about these guys before they end up on 60 Minutes so we have a chance to do something about them,” she said.

This, and a recommendation to introduce grandfathering arrangements to allow cosmetic surgeons who are not currently qualified surgeons to continue to practice, raised the ire of at least one participant, who revealed the details of the meeting.

This article segment was written by Adele Ferguson The Sydney Morning Herald. The full article can be viewed here.


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