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Call for NZ patient care to be protected by HPCAA

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An amendment to the draft Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA) is vital to ensure New Zealand patient care is not compromised, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) has today said.

Under the current Act, the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) is not required to register teleradiologists from overseas providing teleradiology services to patients in New Zealand. The MCNZ Statement of Telehealth states that the overseas-based practitioner should be registered.

RANZCR President Dr Lance Lawler and Mr Mark Nevin, RANZCR Senior Executive Officer, will present to the New Zealand Parliament’s Health Select Committee on this issue today.

Dr Lawler said registration for overseas-based radiologists is needed to ensure the high quality of standards that New Zealand patients expect and deserve was not undermined in any way.

"Patients must be confident that the care they receive via teleradiology is no different to what they would receive from an on-site practitioner," Dr Lawler said.

"Without registration, a patient can neither have assurance that their doctor has appropriate qualifications, nor be subject to disciplinary proceedings if needed.

"It is not enough to trust that a DHB or private provider would conduct due diligence because assessing professional competence is not their role and they face other pressures. There is a risk to patients that this due diligence fails or a provider becomes tempted to use a less qualified practitioner from overseas.

"RANZCR is calling for the proposed act to be amended to ensure that equivalent professional standards and registration requirements are applied to telehealth and that overseas-based practitioners must be required to be registered with MCNZ before they practise in New Zealand."

Last year RANZCR’s Faculty of Clinical Radiology published its Teleradiology Standards, a set of key principles governing the provision of high-quality and safe teleradiology services for patients in Australia and New Zealand.

"Teleradiology provides a real benefit to patients, particularly by providing greater access to those living in remote areas," Dr Lawler said. "It is rapidly

advancing across New Zealand, with almost all District Health Boards routinely using telehealth.

"For widespread uptake of telehealth in New Zealand, patients must have confidence that they are receiving proper care. The MCNZ must be empowered to require overseas doctors to register as New Zealand practitioners are.

"RANZCR has played a proactive role in leading best-practise standards of telehealth and teleradiology and will continue to do so for the benefit of all patients."

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