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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
A survey of medical professionals conducted by the Australian Medical Association (WA) has found that more than half are unaware of the changes to WA’s mental health laws that come into effect next week.
The survey received a strong response, one of the highest in the Association’s history, with an astounding 79 per cent of respondents saying that they had not received the necessary training in the requirements under the new Mental Health Act 2014.
“The Government must move immediately to delay the new Act until proper steps have been taken by the Health Department to inform all doctors of the requirements of the new Act,” AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said today.
“The AMA remains very apprehensive about some aspects of the Act, in particular how effective the promised engagements has been with the medical profession, in relation to both training and professional preparedness,” he said.
Despite Psychiatrists needing face-to-face training in the new Act, 40 per cent of the survey’s respondents had not received it.
“Training and education for doctors is vital and there has not been enough done in the case of this new Act. It is appropriate that implementation of the Act be delayed until we can be confident that all doctors are properly trained,” Dr Gannon said.
Dr Gannon said he had recently written to the Mental Health Minister to express the profession’s grave concerns about the new Act.
“I have supplied the results of our survey to the Minister which details the failure of providing proper information and training in respect of the new Mental Health Act 2014,” he said.
“WA’s Chief Psychiatrist has emphasised the need for all Psychiatrists to receive face-to-face training, as a minimum, in addition to electronic e-learning modules. The AMA (WA) survey however indicated that only 60 per cent of Psychiatrist respondents had received face-to-face training.
“We believe the safest option is to delay the new Mental Health Act until at least April 2016. This will allow for more time to inform medical practitioners of the existence of the new Act, its impact on them, their responsibilities as medical practitioners, and the impact of the new Act on their patients.
“There is a risk to patient care. To have a new Act without all doctors being aware of its implications and requirements is to be asking for trouble. The Government announce a delay to the implementation of the new Act immediately,” Dr Gannon said.