Cre­den­tial vet­ting units ques­tioned

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health -

RAPID as­sess­ment units es­tab­lished in the spe­cial­ist med­i­cal col­leges to help stream­line the re­cruit­ment of over­seas doc­tors have been a suc­cess and should be con­tin­ued, ac­cord­ing to a De­part­ment of Health and Age­ing re­view.

But with the de­part­ment only fund­ing a two-year pilot pro­gram, and some col­leges con­cerned they will be un­able to main­tain their strong per­for­mance with­out con­tin­ued gov­ern­ment sup­port, the im­prove­ments to the as­sess­ment process may be short-lived.

For al­most two decades, the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of over­seas-trained spe­cial­ists (OTSs) have been as­sessed by the Aus­tralian Med­i­cal Coun­cil and the rel­e­vant col­leges. But since the in­tro­duc­tion of the area-of-need strat­egy in 2002, fast-track­ing the re­cruit­ment of OTSs into cru­cial va­can­cies, there have been con­cerns about the cost, ef­fi­ciency, trans­par­ent and eq­uity of the as­sess­ment pro­gram.

In re­sponse to th­ese con­cerns, in par­tic­u­lar the po­ten­tial for the col­leges to use mar­ket power to re­strict ac­cess to the med­i­cal work­force, the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion and Con­sumer Com­mis­sion con­ducted a re­view of the Royal Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Sur­geons that raised ques­tions over some col­lege pro­cesses.

Fur­ther re­views by gov­ern­ment health com­mit­tees led the Aus­tralian Health Min­is­ters Work­force Of­fi­cials Com­mit­tee to rec­om­mend the es­tab­lish­ment of rapid as­sess­ment units (RAUs).

Un­der the pilot pro­gram, which be­gan in 2006, the col­leges of sur­geons, physi­cians, anaes­thetists, psy­chi­a­trists, pathol­o­gists, ra­di­ol­o­gists and ob­ste­tri­cians and gy­nae­col­o­gists were en­gaged to stream­line and stan­dard­ise as­sess­ment pro­cesses for OTSs, im­prove trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, and re­duce red tape.

All col­leges, ex­cept the Royal Aus­tralasian Col­lege of Physi­cians, also at­tempted to im­prove spe­cial­ist recog­ni­tion as­sess­ment pro­cesses.

Week­end Health used free­dom of in­for­ma­tion laws to ob­tain the fi­nal re­view of the pro­gram, which con­sul­tants Health Out­comes In­ter­na­tional pro­vided to the de­part­ment in Septem­ber.

The con­sul­tants’ re­port found the RAUs had im­ple­mented an im­pres­sive range of ini­tia­tives’’ un­der the pro­gram.

There is ev­i­dence that the RAU pilot projects have pro­vided an in­creased fo­cus on OTS as­sess­ment is­sues which has re­sulted in re­views of poli­cies and pro­cesses be­ing un­der­taken,’’ the re­port found.

This has led to pro­cesses be­ing stream­lined; pro­vided more vis­i­ble path­ways and more mean­ing­ful in­ter­ac­tion with stake­hold­ers. We be­lieve it is im­por­tant that the change man­age­ment pro­cesses that have been com­menced by the col­leges in im­ple ment­ing the RAU projects should con­tinue.’’

The per­for­mance of the col­leges ranged from the col­lege of ra­di­ol­o­gists com­plet­ing

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