Concerns over Productivity Commission report

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productivity-commission-reportFollowing the recent release of the Productivity Commission’s [PC] Mutual Recognition Schemes Research Report, the Australian Dental Association [ADA] has raised serious concerns about the lack of attention afforded to what it sees as two major issues. The first is the potential health and safety risks from the different examination standards that the New Zealand profession can now apply to overseas qualified dental practitioners.

“The PC report makes the assertion that mutual recognition schemes between Australia and New Zealand are working well but this is not the case when it comes to dentistry,” says the ADA’s president Dr Rick Olive. The lack of enforcement, the ADA says, essentially means that overseas dental practitioners can register in New Zealand – where, Dr Olive says, requirements are less stringent – and then employ the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement to practise in Australia. The ADA is concerned that this “shopping and hopping” approach will compromise the quality of dental care in Australia over time.

The ADA has additionally noted that the report contradicts an earlier government report about the dental workforce oversupply. A comprehensive analysis conducted by Health Workforce Australia concluded that the oversupply is set to last until at least 2025, a figure which saw the Assistant Minister for Immigration remove dentistry from the Skilled Occupation List, effectively closing the migratory pathway to employ overseas trained dentists.

“It makes no sense for the PC, another government agency, to ignore the policy decisions of the Education Minister,” said Dr Olive. “So called productivity improvement should not be at a cost of compromised and inferior care being able to be delivered to Australians by overseas practitioners. Rather than provide findings that support the efficient operation of the dental health sector, the PC report as it stands does nothing to address the consequences of this gross labour market imbalance.”

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