23 June, 2019

What proposed Medical Board changes could mean for you – deadline 30 June

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The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) public consultation on ‘complementary, unconventional medicine and emerging treatments’ closes on June 30th.

This is your last chance to send a submission to the MBA and let them know why you value access to holistic healthcare and support doctors’ right to offer it. We’ve made it easy!

What the MBA’s proposal might mean for patients and practitioners.

Proposed changes by the MBA are threatening doctors’ right to offer patients complementary, innovative and emerging treatments inevitably leading to restrictions in clinical autonomy and patient choice.

In its consultation paper seeking public feedback on its proposed plans, the MBA has defined medical practice as “any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in their profession”. It goes on to state that “practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles, and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the profession”. 

Commenting on this definition and what it may mean, Professor Stephen Myers, Director of the NatMed Research Unit based at Southern Cross University and one of Australia’s leading academics in natural, complementary, and integrated medicine has said,

“It smacks to me of a situation where we want to not only suppress the people that actually undertake these roles but we want to make sure that they can’t talk, they can’t research, they can’t advise, they can’t engage in policy development. It’s bizarre, I mean, to actually go that far with such an all-encompassing definition of practice. I consider it to be an invasion of my civil rights and my academic independence.”

NSW Naturopath Genevieve Mlotkowski said,

“I’m deeply concerned about the MBA’s proposal. Already we have seen right of choice restricted with respect to health fund rebates, we are seeing educational courses and natural medicines targeted and instead of encouraging further research to ensure the best available healthcare is available for all Australian’s, the MBA is attempting to restrict the ability to educate, research, and advise about complementary medicine”.

When asked what the MBA’s proposed changes might mean for her and her patients, Ms Mlotkowski said, “I routinely work with Integrative doctors to achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of my patients. There are procedures, diagnostic testing and IV vitamins that I as a Naturopath cannot prescribe, so I need to refer on. If I lose this working relationship, my patient’s health will suffer. If the MBA is successful in stopping doctors from prescribing natural medicines, I can’t help but think that the next phase will be to restrict Naturopaths and other allied health professionals from doing the same”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) is an important and often underestimated health resource with many applications, especially in the prevention and management of lifestyle-related chronic diseases”.

While many countries are seeking to “expand coverage of [these] essential health services” the actions of the MBA are in direct violation of Australia’s obligations as a WHO Member State to take a more culturally respectful, considered and evidence-based approach to healthcare.

Have your say NOW, submit your thoughts to the MBA and ask them to maintain current guidelines (Option 1).


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