Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia

The Medical Board of Australia adopted the Code of Conduct

1 July 2010: Under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) has adopted and reissued Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia with the minor modifications required to reflect the Health Practitioners Regulation National Law Act 2009 (the National Law). The MBA Code of Conduct is available here.

The development of the code by the Australian Medical Council

In preparation for the introduction of national medical registration from July 2010, the Australian Medical Council (AMC), on behalf of all state and territory medical boards, developed a national code of professional conduct for medical practitioners – Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia.

The Code defines clear, nationally consistent standards of practice. A consistent code of professional conduct that is understood by the profession, and the community, is an important aspect of national medical regulation.

While the AMA has published a code of ethics and other medical organisations have developed codes of ethics, practice or conduct, in Australia there had not been a single agreed national document that described all these responsibilities clearly and consistently, nor had there been broad community consultation on this subject.

The Code was designed to reflect the understanding of both the community and the medical profession about the accepted standards of good professional conduct of Australia’s doctors in modern medical practice.

During the development of the Code (2008 and 2009), a draft code was available for public comment and consultation over September, October and November 2008, and again over April and May 2009. The feedback received during the public and stakeholder consultations, and from the on-line survey and the submissions was analysed by the AMC and considered by the Code Working Group and the Code was refined and modified on the basis of the two consultation periods. To view the Report of the Consultation click here.

In developing the Code, the AMC was supported by an expert working group that included strong clinical representation and the expertise of junior doctors and medical students, medical regulators and educators, medical and health administrators, consumers and community groups, medical profession advocates and the perspectives from rural and indigenous practitioners.

The AMC received Commonwealth Government funding, through the Department of Health and Ageing, to conduct the broad national consultation process – a process which was extensive, comprehensive and utilised a number of methods to engage the profession and the public and to gain considered feedback. The consultation included: a dedicated website; an internet based online survey tool; a public call for written submissions; direct stakeholder engagement and public forums across Australia; and a partnership with the Consumers Health Forum of Australia. The AMC in consulting widely, believed that ultimate legitimacy and effectiveness of the Code rested on the recognition and acceptance that it received from the medical profession, medical regulators and the broader Australian community.

The Working Group worked through all the feedback received in the meetings, through the survey and in the submissions to modify the Code. The final Code was endorsed by the AMC Directors in August 2009 and recommended to all state and territory medical boards for adoption or endorsement. To view the AMC Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia click here. Hard copies of this version are no longer available.