If concerns are raised about a registered health practitioner’s ability to perform his/her professional activities because of a mental or physical condition the Council is compelled to make enquiries into that practitioner's ability to work.
Any health practitioner registered with the Council who, because of a mental or physical condition cannot make safe judgments, demonstrate acceptable levels of competence or behave appropriately in accordance with ethical, legal and practice guidelines, can expect to be the subject of an investigation by the Medical Sciences Council.
The Council may be alerted to consider whether a practitioner is able to perform the functions of their profession when any of the following people/organisations notify the Council that they have reason a practitioner is unable to perform their profession competently because of some mental or physical condition:
- The practitioner him/herself
- A person in charge of a health services organisation
- An employer of the practitioner
- A medical officer of health
- A Council-appointed Professional Conduct Committee
- The Health and Disability Commissioner or Director of Proceedings
- Any other person or organisation
Unless in extraordinary circumstances, the Council acts only on a written notification that raises concerns about a practitioner's ability to perform the required functions of their profession due to a health issue.
Health review queries are to be directed to the Council’s Registrar and are managed through the Council's Professional Standards Committee.
In the situation of a manager advising the Council of concerns about health issues of a practitioner and who is both managing the situation to minimise risk to the public and is keeping the Council informed of the situation on a regular basis, it is at the Council's discretion whether to allow the manager to continue monitoring the situation or to undertake a formal investigation.
What happens if the Council decides I need to undergo a health review?
You will be invited to comment on the health concern that has been brought to the Council's attention and whether there are factors that may be adversely affecting your ability to practise medical laboratory science or anaesthetic technology.
If you acknowledge that your practice is affected by a health condition, the Council will discuss with you an option for you to voluntarily either limit your practice or cease to practise while the situation is explored further. In such a situation attention will focus on assisting you to address any mental or physical health issues which may be affecting your practise. You may be asked to surrender your annual practising certificate or to put into effect any agreed limitation on practice. If appropriate a replacement annual practising certificate with conditions will be issued at no extra cost to you.
If satisfied that it is appropriate to investigate the matter as a health issue, the Council may require you to submit to a medical examination by a medical practitioner approved by the Council. You are able to have a support person of your choosing attend this examination with you as an observer.
Following the examination, the medical practitioner is required to provide the Council with a report stating their professional opinion as to the existence of the alleged condition, the results of all tests carried out as part of the examination, and the extent to which they believe any condition found to exist affects your ability to practise the functions of their profession safely and competently, and any recommendations for ongoing monitoring that may be required.
You are given a copy of the medical practitioner's report and given an opportunity to make written submissions and be heard on the matter.
If the report indicates the existence of a condition that affects your practise, the Council may also gather additional relevant information from your colleagues and other related professional people (e.g. pharmacist, employer). You will be informed of this prior to any such persons being approached.
A meeting will be arranged between yourself and the Council at an agreed time and place to discuss the findings and recommendations of the medical examiner's report and any other information. You are able to bring a representative and/or support person of your choosing, to this meeting.
The Council has the ability to invoke an interim suspension of your APC or impose interim conditions on your scope of practice at any time throughout the Health Review process, if it considers that you are unsafe to practise. However, because of the extreme effects, such an order is unlikely to be made before a medical practitioner's report is available and has been considered and in any event will be made only in circumstances where there is risk of serious harm to the public, other health practitioners or yourself.
After giving due consideration to all the relevant information and hearing your response, the Council then makes a decision.
If the Council is satisfied that you are unable to perform the functions of your scope of practice because of some mental or physical condition, it must, in accordance with the Act, order that you be suspended from practise.
If the Council is satisfied that you are able to perform the functions of their scope of practice but only if certain conditions are observed, it must, in accordance with the Act, order that conditions be placed on your scope of practice.
The Council will continue to monitor you until it is clear that you have fully recovered and are safe to practise unrestricted in your registered scope of practice.
The Council pays the costs of the medical examination and report. You are responsible for paying any costs of complying with any orders made as a result of the review.