Evans Moves To Act On Overseas Doctors

Evans moves to act on overseas doctors

March 19, 2008 – 5:37PM

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has asked for a departmental briefing after a review identified concerns about overseas-trained doctors working in Australia.

Senator Evans told parliament on Wednesday the immigration department had conducted a survey of issues surrounding foreign doctors, at the request of former minister Kevin Andrews.

The department had then sought talks with state governments about the regulation of foreign doctors working in Australia.

“There has been to-ing and fro-ing between the states and the commonwealth about the management of these issues,” he told parliament in response to a question from opposition immigration spokesman Chris Ellison.

“I understand there were issues and concerns raised as a result of this interaction.

“I've asked the department to brief me on the progress of these matters and I intend listing that matter on the agenda when I meet with state ministers.

“There are a range of issues that have emerged, including state claims to privacy over the records of doctors.

“I intend to pursue the issues that the former minister first raised … to make sure we have integrity in the system in relation to overseas medical practitioners brought into this country.”

Senator Evans said he believed state medical registration boards should continue to be responsible for checking the bona fides of foreign doctors.

“I don't see that as being immigration's core business, but we do need to be satisfied that those proper checks have occurred,” he said.

Although the medical boards aim to verify doctors' credentials and employment history, the immigration department issues them with the necessary visas to work in Australia.

Senator Ellison asked the minister to assure parliament he had confidence in the qualifications of overseas-trained doctors.

“The buck may well stop with me, but I'd point out that the vast majority of doctors now practising in this country who came from overseas were approved under the previous government,” Senator Evans replied.