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Choose Life Australia Some call me passionate – I suppose I am. What do I want? A safe place for our children here now and in the future. I want to hold high the intrinsic value of all human life in all states of dependency. I want to defend liberty of conscience, freedom of speech and I want to see ethical government. I want to see truth honoured and spoken. There’s more but that’ll do…

Dr Jereth Kok now suspended two years. Will it be three? Will it be permanent?

Dr Jereth Kok now suspended two years. Will it be three? Will it be permanent?

For “professional misconduct”.

Why? Not for being incompetent or “bad” at doctoring but for social media posting of articles and comments on ethical and moral issues of the day involving medicine that could be open to mis-interpretation and lead to “lack of confidence in the medical profession”.

This could so easily have been handled by the “old boy network” with simple cautions by respected doctors.

Bur what happened? Suspension under emergency provisions, now over two years with a likelihood of a further year before his “case” can be heard – a penalty that bears no relationship to penalties given for misconduct in the doctor-patient relationship in the consulting room or for actual incompetence in the practice of medicine.

Suspension of practice by a regulatory body of a competent doctor for no valid “medical practice” reason is at the very least inappropriate but could also be labelled as “misconduct” by that body in a professional sense. It is obvious that the Medical Board did not “like” what the doctor had said that upset the complainant but that is hardly a reason for suspension from engaging is a professional medical capacity.

It could be further argued that the decision was even more “unprofessional” for this suspension to be taking place during a coronavirus pandemic.

But it’s worse.

The MBA in its apparent zeal to gather evidence commissioned someone to explore a decade of posts/articles by this “bad” doctor to further justify their heavy-handedness.

But it’s even worse.

This same MBA in 2018 released a draft Code of Conduct that seemed to be a deliberate attempt to subject medical decision making to cultural influences potentially antithetical to good medical practice.

Subsequently Professor Anne Tonkin, Medical Board chair, was quoted as saying “the draft clauses were removed because they were badly worded”.

“…badly worded”? Such judgment may possibly apply to Dr Jereth’s social media comments for which he is suspended but with respect to the MBA is a euphemistic simplicity of what was a bad concept for medical practice, not just badly worded. So unprofessional for the profession of Medicine.

The Medical Board of Australia has shown itself to be unprofessional in its conduct with its bizarre heavy-handed pursuit of Dr Jereth Kok for what could only be considered trivial matters compared with its own proposed degradation of long accepted conduct in the doctor-patient relationship.

Thus there are two failures that are condemning of the MBA for which they should be held accountable.

From http://www.medicinewithmorality.info/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2020/12/A-Critique.-Good-Medical-Practice-A-Code-of-Conduct-for-Doctors-in-Australia.pdf.

Further contrasts between Dr Kok and the MBA are highlighted in http://www.chooselifeaustralia.org.au/life/the-strange-case-of-dr-jereth-kok-and-the-over-reach-of-the-medical-board-of-australia1126/ and as below.

Lachlan Dunjey 11 Sept 2021.

———————————————————–

The Strange Case of Dr Jereth Kok and the Over-reach of the Medical Board of Australia

Dr Jereth Kok

Fact: Dr Kok, a competent GP of 15 years well-respected by his patients, posted comments on social media and at least one article in a Christian newspaper re ethical matters he felt strongly about.

Fact: in August 2019, as a result of a complaint, Dr Kok was suspended from practice under “emergency powers”[i] by the MBA because of these “damaging” statements that might cause patients to lose confidence in the medical profession.

Fact: Dr Kok offered to remove the posts in question but this offer was ignored. It is on record that the current chair of MBA has said that intervention “would require somebody to be unresponsive to requests to take things down”[ii].  This did not happen despite Dr Kok’s offer.

Fact: Dr Kok’s explanation of his posts was not listened to and an appeal went through to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) which stated that the MBA had acted within the rules.

How should this have been handled? Firstly by “the old boy network”[iii]. A “talking to”, a metaphorical “rap over the knuckles”, to not post comments that might be regarded by some as “damaging to the profession”.

The MBA’s problem with Dr Kok is that his public stand – as limited as it was – could cause patients to lose confidence in the medical profession.

Dr Kok is still under suspension.

 

Medical Board of Australia

Fact: in October 2018 the MBA released a draft Code of Conduct (COC) for medical doctors for comment.

Fact: this draft COC contained various aspects of medical practice that were considered to be a negative interference with the practice of good medicine. In short, it was considered by doctors of good standing to be dishonouring to the practice of medicine, even “Orwellian”.

Fact: the draft COC attracted a lot of negative submissions from well-respected doctors across Australia.

Fact: The MBA released a new COC effective from 1 October 2020 having listened to the feedback and removed most of the dishonourable material[iv].

A good result but concerns remain – including how the draft code could have been so bad and by what influences.

The MBA has made itself irrelevant in any sense of being an ethical code of conduct.

If such was known more widely it could also have caused loss of confidence in the medical profession as well as the medical profession having lost confidence in the MBA.

In contrast to Dr Kok, the MBA has suffered no penalty and was able to remove the offending material. But for many doctors it will be a long time before confidence in the MBA is restored.

 

Lachlan Dunjey November 2020. http://www.chooselifeaustralia.org.au/life/the-strange-case-of-dr-jereth-kok-and-the-over-reach-of-the-medical-board-of-australia1126/

[i] Section 156(1)e of the National Law when the example given relates to a serious criminal offence
(e) the National Board reasonably believes the action is otherwise in the public interest.
Example of when action may be taken in the public interest—
A registered health practitioner is charged with a serious criminal offence, unrelated to the practitioner’s practice, for which immediate action is required to be taken to maintain public confidence in the provision of services by health practitioners.
[ii] https://www.ausdoc.com.au/news/medical-board-chair-were-not-out-gag-doctors
[iii] My experience in complaint resolution is extensive, including 15 yrs of AMA(WA) Colleague of First Contact (now DHAS).
[iv] dishonourable material
Medically irrelevant grounds including… gender identity, sexual orientation”
“culturally safe and respectful practice” (not necessarily equating to medically safe)
only the patient and/or their family can determine whether or not care is culturally safe and respectful”

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