Medical Board of Australia - Updated Code of conduct to guide doctors from October
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Updated Code of conduct to guide doctors from October

27 Aug 2020

The Medical Board of Australia has published the 2020 version of Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia, which will take effect on 1 October 2020.

Good medical practice describes what is expected of all doctors registered to practise medicine in Australia. It sets out the principles that characterise good medical practice and makes explicit the standards of ethical and professional conduct expected of doctors by their professional peers and the community.

Medical Board of Australia Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said revisions to the code aimed to provide clearer guidance to doctors and better explanations of expected professional standards.

‘The code is a really important regulatory tool and, we hope, a helpful document for doctors. We want doctors to use it to guide their professional practice, just as Board members use it to guide the decisions they make about individual medical practitioners,’ Dr Tonkin said.

The 2020 updates do not significantly change expected professional standards. Some content has been reworded and reordered to improve flow and readability.

The 2020 version follows extensive public consultation in 2018 and collective work during 2019 across the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) to consult and develop consensus on a definition of cultural safety.

The major changes in the 2020 edition of Good medical practice include:

  • strengthened guidance about discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and vexatious complaints
  • an expanded section on cultural safety, including a new definition agreed across the National Scheme
  • more on patient safety and clinical governance, and
  • a new section on career transitions for doctors.

The public consultation identified a range of issues in the Board’s original proposed draft, including concerns about doctors’ rights to free speech and conscientious objection, discrimination and the meaning of culturally safe practice.

The 2020 version addresses these concerns by revising the following sections to make the Board’s intentions and expectations clearer:

  • section two on professionalism and doctors making public comment
  • the section on access to care and conscientious objection, and
  • the section on culturally safe practice. 

The Board is publishing the 2020 version of Good medical practice well before the Code comes into effect, to give doctors time to familiarise themselves with the new content. 

For more information

  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200.
  • Lodge an online enquiry
  • Find out more about Ahpra and the National Boards.

Page reviewed 27/08/2020