Good medical practice needs to be founded on patients’ rights

by Stephen Duckett

Submission to the Medical Board of Australia’s Public Consultation Paper, Tuesday 31 July

The draft Code of Conduct issued by the Medical Board of Australia, Good medical practice: A Code of Conduct for doctors in Australia, is deficient. It is silent in several areas where it should not be. In this submission to the Board, Grattan Institute’s Health Program Director Stephen Duckett identifies ways to improve the code so that patients’ rights come first. In particular, the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights should be explicitly incorporated into the Code of Conduct, to underscore the centrality of patient rights to medical practice. The section of the code on Indigenous Australians should be strengthened to help address unconscious racism and systemic discrimination in healthcare. And the code should make clear that medical practitioners’ fees should be not just transparent, but fair.