Any doctor can currently use the title, regardless of their level of training. The RACGP supports repression but has warned against excessive restriction.
The RACGP acknowledged the “potential harm” of doctors inappropriately using the title “surgeon” in a new submission to the Council of Health Ministers, specifically mentioning the need to limit the cosmetics industry.
The largely unregulated sector, which has drawn criticism in recent months, is already the subject of independent scrutiny by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) and there is now pressure to ban aesthetic doctors to use the title “surgeon”.
Like the term ‘doctor’, the title ‘surgeon’ is currently unregulated, meaning any doctor can use it, regardless of qualifications or level of training.
To help differentiate between practitioners and skill levels, the college recommended that the term “cosmetician” be used instead for providers of cosmetic surgery services.
Another proposal, put forward by the council, was to limit the use of “surgeon” to Royal Australasian College of Surgeons fellows and 10 sub-specialties.
However, the RACGP has warned that restricting the title too much could ‘negatively impact’ procedural GPs, including GPs, GP obstetricians and GP anaesthesiologists.
“As a matter of principle, the RACGP does not support efforts to reduce the role or competencies of GPs as a regulatory mechanism for unqualified practitioners,” the college wrote.
The submission argues that “specialist physicians who have had substantial surgical training, such as dermatologists, specialist general practitioners, obstetricians and ophthalmologists” should be permitted to continue to use the title and without restrictions being imposed on them. their scope of practice.
The college also pointed out that large parts of Australia have ‘very limited access to surgical services’ and that in many of these areas specialist GPs with surgical skills are ‘often essential to providing essential services’.
RACGP Rural President Dr. Michael Clements agrees.
Talk with newsGPhe said procedural GPs should be allowed to use the title provided they have adequate skills and training recognized and approved by the RACGP or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM).
“We certainly have GPs who practice with a surgical scope of practice, and that can range from hernia repairs and appendectomies to open reduction and internal fixation of fractures,” he said.
“And we know that in our rural and remote areas we have a large number of qualified general practitioners who have undergone additional training and have the necessary credentials to perform these surgeries.
“So it makes sense that they could use the term surgeon.”
According to Dr. Clements, the real problem is public understanding and expectations of the title, rather than a real problem with training standards.
“I think the reason the term surgeon has become such a hot topic has more to do with community expectations of what it means when someone uses that title,” he said.
“We’re not really talking about changing the standards. We’re really only talking about how we use the language and the service the audience expects to have provided to them when that title is used.
Public education was also one of the college’s recommendations in its brief.
“We advocated for increased public education and increased regulation regarding cosmetic surgery, including seeking clarity in the use of titles,” the college wrote.
“The RACGP supports efforts to increase patient safety through public education, which communicates who performs the surgery, what the relevant qualifications mean, and how to know the qualifications of the cosmetic service provider.”
A response to the consultation process, which is currently led by the State of Victoria, is expected “in 2022-2023”.
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