Skip to main content
Accessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Call for Australian Government to Lift Imprisonment Threat from Doctors

  • Published: 2016-02-20 : BMJ (bmj.com).
  • Synopsis: Provisions of the Border Force Act that can imprison doctors for putting patients first must be removed, says expert.
Australian Border Force (ABF)

The Australian Border Force (ABF) is the Australian government agency, tasked with border protection and national security duties. This agency was established on 1 July 2015 after the merger of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and some parts of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

Main Document

Quote: "...compliance with the law can not inoculate the medical practitioner completely against the need to comply with their ethical code."

In The BMJ today, a doctor is calling on the Australian government to stop constraining doctors in the care of asylum seekers and refugees, and to adopt a humane stance to people seeking asylum.

David Berger, a doctor at Broome Hospital in Western Australia and a committee member of Doctors4Refugees, is making these calls following the high profile case at The Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane.

Paediatricians are refusing to discharge a baby facing deportation to a detention camp after the girl, a daughter of asylum seekers, suffered serious burns at an immigration camp on Nauru island. The Lady Cilento Hospital says the girl will not be released "until a suitable home environment is identified".

Dr Berger explains that despite seeking to ensure the safety of their patient and doing nothing more than following their own ethical code, these doctors risk facing up to two years imprisonment under the 2015 Border Force Act.

Doctors have an ethical code since the time of the Hippocractic physicians nearly 2,500 years ago, he explains, yet this new law "compels them to follow the instructions of the Australian government, even if they believe this might be to the detriment of their patients."

He says this case goes to the heart of the question of 'duty of the physician' versus 'law of the land', but argues that "compliance with the law can not inoculate the medical practitioner completely against the need to comply with their ethical code".

He highlights the 2012 Derek Keilloh case in the UK that shows the "impossible ethical and legal position doctors now face in Australia... as they are caught between the profession's ethical code, which places patient welfare at the heart of their endeavours, and the law of the country which places unacceptable obstacles in the way of doing so."

Dr Berger adds that the actions of the Brisbane doctors "are not simply a piece of political grandstanding, but the courageous stand of professionals seeking to do the right thing by their patient and to live up to the standards of an ethical code by which they are morally and legally bound and which places patient welfare at its pinnacle."

"They are behaving according to the very highest standards of their profession," he adds, and calls on the government to repeal the relevant provisions of the Border Force Act and to adopt a "humane stance" towards people seeking asylum.

Similar Topics

1 : Call for Australian Government to Lift Imprisonment Threat from Doctors : BMJ.
2 : Failure of Australian Medicare Principle of Universality : Monash University.
3 : Health Insurance Cover in Australia : Bruce Gow.
4 : Australian Health Insurance : Lorna Finlay.
From our Australia section - Full List (4 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Protein Levels in Spinal Fluid Correlate to Posture and Gait Difficulty in Parkinson's Disease
2 : Palliative Care Findings on Caregiver Depression, LGBT Partners, Moral Distress
3 : Circulation Journal's Go Red for Women Issue Focuses on Female Heart Health
4 : Wearable Stretchable Electronics Aid Stroke Recovery Treatment

Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.