The Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA) and the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons (ASOS) have come out in support of the Australian Doctors’ Fund’s (ADF) proposal to extend the active role of senior doctors in the health service. The ADF is putting forward a new category of Senior Active Medical Practitioner to encourage doctors over 55 years old to continue working, even though they want to scale down their medical practice.

Recent changes in medical registration instituted by the new Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) have removed step down categories for doctors and created an all-in or all-out system.

Under the ADF plan, older doctors could elect categories of service delivery which suit their changing lifestyle requirements and capacity.

The system would require an annual check by a medical practitioner (usually their GP) to verify the health and ability of the doctor electing to be included in a Senior Active category.

ASOS President Dr Gary Speck said there’s a need for urgent change to ensure senior medical practitioners keep contributing to the profession.

“We cannot afford to lose this vital asset,” Dr Speck said. “Many experienced doctors already continue to contribute in various roles, including teaching and supporting other colleagues. It’s crucial that we continue to harness their knowledge and experience for the good of the community and the medical profession.”

AOA President Dr Bill Cumberland believes the Senior Active Medical Practitioner proposal encourages older surgeons to act as mentors for the next generation.

“Orthopaedic surgeons value the wisdom, skill and involvement of senior colleagues, particularly as mentors,” Dr Cumberland says. “The ADF proposal has adequate safeguards and sits in the current framework.”