Minister of Health Senator Luke Browne has flagged what he presented as potential conflicts of interest involving doctors who work in the public health sector while maintaining a private practice.
“… the doctors employed at the hospital, are also permitted to carry out private practice. And nobody is trying to prevent this practice from continuing. But, Mr. Speaker, I think everybody would agree that it needs to be regulated, and that it needs to be regulated with a view to mitigate against the problems associated with potential conflicts of interest,” Browne said, on Tuesday, during the budget debate.
The minister told lawmakers that some of the relevant contemplations “could be summed up thus: should a doctor at the hospital use his or her position there to seek to direct patients to his or her private practice?
“Should we have a situation where public patients have to wait very long for surgeries, while private patients experience short waiting times? Should a patient be induced to change in status from public patient to private patient so that they could have the access to healthcare services fast-tracked?”
He said these are some of the questions that policymakers need to ponder when they approach this subject.
“And as I say, this is something that we would be able to develop more fully and present on, because we want to be fair to all parties concerned, and we certainly do not want to jeopardise a person’s ability to go and get quality health care services at our hospitals or at any other health care facility.
“And we are determined to iron out a system that is fair, and just that determination should not be underestimated,” he said.
The minister said that while he was flagging the matter as one requiring the attention of hospital services, “… I think that it may be necessary to give it full treatment in the future.”