Free speech, public comment and the Code of Conduct

Avant media

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

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Avant agrees with the principle of freedom of speech but acknowledges that there are limitations (often enshrined in legislation), not just for doctors but for everyone.

The Medical Board of Australia’s ‘Good Medical Practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia’ (Code of Conduct) outlines the standards expected of doctors when making public comment:

2.2 Public comment and trust in the profession

The community trusts the medical profession. Every doctor has a responsibility to behave ethically to justify this trust.

While there are professional values that underpin good medical practice, all doctors have a right to have and express their personal views and values. However, the boundary between a doctor’s personal and public profile can be blurred. As a doctor, you need to consider the effect of your public comments and your actions outside work, including online, related to medical and clinical issues, and how they reflect on your role as a doctor and on the reputation of the profession.

Avant supports this section.

Doctors are required to comply with the Code of Conduct and act in a way that maintains the public’s trust and confidence in the profession.

Avant provides advice, education and resources to all members to support them in fulfilling their obligations under the Code of Conduct.

If a complaint is made against a member alleging they have breached the Code of Conduct, we will assist them under their practitioner indemnity insurance policy in accordance with its terms and conditions.

Avant seeks to ensure that Ahpra and the Medical Board appropriately apply the principles in the Code of Conduct when managing notifications and complaints against practitioners. We do this through advocacy at a policy level and in representing individual members under the insurance policy.

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