Future of vetting in question
From Health cover 61 per cent of area-of-need assessments within eight weeks, and 54 per cent of OTS assessments, to the college of surgeons completing 92 per cent of area-of-need assessments and 95 per cent of OTS assessments. During the program, the key performance indicators for colleges to process 80 per cent of applications was changed from six weeks to eight weeks, with the college of surgeons allowed 12 weeks and the college of obstretricians and gynaecologists eight weeks.
The average assessment cost was $4312 across the colleges, and while some colleges recorded a surplus or confidence that the RAUs could be self-funding, the report was more pessimistic: Whilst the one-off funding to colleges has been provided by the Commonwealth for the improvement of OTS assessment processes, there is concern about some colleges’ ability to continue achieving service improvement due to competing resource constraints.’’
Russell Stitz, chairman of the Committee of Presidents of Medical Colleges, said the colleges had been supportive of the pilot.
And although it’s arguably not the core business of the colleges to assess international medical graduates, nevertheless they feel that’s a contribution they can make to the standards of medicine in this country,’’ Stitz said.
Stitz said colleges were, however, subscription-based, and while training was done on a cost-recovery basis, there would always be sensitivity over the level of fees.
While Stitz could not speak on behalf of all colleges, he suggested his own, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, would struggle to keep its RAU performing at such a high level without continued support.
A department spokeswoman said while the RAUs were referred to as pilot projects, it was the department’s expectation as specified in the contracts that they would become selffunding through assessment fees and would continue operations beyond the life of the funding agreement’’.
It is a matter for each college to decide whether to continue to run the units at the completion of the contract,’’ the spokeswoman said. As required by the Council of Australian Governments in July 2006, a model for a nationally consistent assessment process has been developed and is being implemented across all jurisdictions.
The report also recommended there be a centralised governance model and standardised information management systems for the RAUs to enable mandatory performance monitoring in the future.