The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has welcomed a decision by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to adopt amendments to the Declaration of Geneva, which recognise for the first time, the need for doctors to look after their own health and wellbeing in order to be able to provide a high standard of care to patients.
The Declaration of Geneva was originally adopted by the World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly in 1948 and has undergone a series of amendments throughout the years.
“The Declaration is referred to as the Physician’s Pledge, and is considered a modern successor to the Hippocratic Oath,” said AMA President, Dr. Michael Gannon.
“The latest amendments, made at the 68th WMA General Assembly in Chicago in October 2017, make several significant additions – most notably that, in order to provide a high standard of care to patients, doctors must look after their own health.
“This is particularly appropriate at a time when Australian doctors’ mental health and wellbeing, and the need for doctors to be able to seek help without fearing that they will not be allowed to practise, is being discussed.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements Being Re-considered
“The COAG Health Council is considering ways to lift the mandatory reporting requirements that force doctors who are treating other doctors for mental health issues to report their patient to regulatory authorities as being impaired.
“The AMA supports the nationwide introduction of the Western Australian model, which exempts doctors from mandatory reporting.
“It is time for the other States and Territories to act. A healthy medical workforce is essential for patient safety.
“The Declaration of Geneva is a fluid document, respectful of traditional Hippocratic ethics, but responsive to the changing nature of the relationship between doctors and patients, and reflecting the current values that the profession and wider society expects of doctors.
“The AMA encourages all doctors to adhere to the principles and commitments outlined in the updated Declaration of Geneva.”
RANZCO Highlights Member Support
Speaking of the decision to adopt the revised WMA pledge, A/Prof Mark Daniell, President, RANZCO said, “At RANZCO we know that, in the long term, doctors provide better care for their patients when they are physically and emotionally healthy themselves. Promoting self-care and providing ongoing support services, such as the employee assistance program, to our members, through all stages of their training and careers, is an important part of how we seek to ensure that ophthalmologists deliver the very best in eye health care to people across Australia and New Zealand.”
The WMA was formed in 1947 with the AMA one of its founding members. The formal decision to adopt the updated Declaration was made at the AMA’s final Federal Council meeting of 2017.