Doctor Support Service
The aim of the AMA Victoria Doctor Support Service is to assist a doctor in distress by providing ongoing confidential practical support from a trained support person who is also a medical practitioner. The Doctor Support Service supplements the Peer Support Service which is a telephone support service providing a point of first contact for distressed doctors. For a confidential discussion about this member only service, contact the Workplace & Advocacy Unit on (03) 9280 8722.
Examples of situations when a Doctor Support volunteer might be helpful to a member include investigative, legal and disciplinary procedures or workplace disputes. These disputes might include:
- Medicare and TAC audits
- Coroner’s Court and Medical Board hearings
- Industrial relations negotiations.
In all these situations there are personal and emotional impacts on a member.
While AMA Victoria staff, industrial and legal counsel will provide expert advice to a member, the Doctor Support volunteer is available to be “a companion for the road’ during processes which can be prolonged and stressful. The Doctor Support volunteer will provide a “listening ear” and when necessary accompany a member to hearings as a support person. The member and the volunteer may choose to meet, talk on the phone or communicate electronically.
The following guidelines apply to the Doctor Support Service:
- The AMA Victoria Doctor Support Service is available to any member by contacting the AMA Victoria Workplace and Advocacy Unit.
- The AMA Victoria Doctor Support Service is inclusive and non-judgemental.
- The AMA Victoria Doctor Support Service upholds the individual’s right to be heard and supported by a colleague.
- The AMA Victoria Doctor Support Service upholds competent and ethical conduct in all circumstances and will assist all members as far as possible to practice in this manner.
- The role of a Doctor Support volunteer is to offer support with the aim of empowering a doctor in distress to seek expert advice and to make decisions about an appropriate path to follow.
- The Doctor Support volunteer should agree with the doctor requiring support on arrangements for contact including frequency, availability and preferred method of contact according to the personal circumstances of both parties.
- Members must consider the voluntary nature of the service in their expectations and use of the Doctor Support service.
- All members requiring referral for specialist or expert advice will be provided with as many options as practical but will not be directed to any specific service provider unless no appropriate alternatives exist.
- The Doctor Support Service volunteer may accompany a doctor to a legal or investigative hearing but will not advocate for, lobby or represent their medical colleague.
- The Doctor Support Service volunteer will not provide any medical advice including diagnosis, assessment, formal referral, treatment or provision of a medical certificate or prescription to their medical colleague.
- The Doctor Support Service volunteer will not offer any legal or industrial advice but will refer their medical colleague to AMA Victoria or another appropriate body such as their medical indemnity insurer or legal counsel for that advice.
- Discussion between a Doctor Support Service volunteer and a member of AMA Victoria using the service is confidential. The exceptions to confidentiality and privacy are where disclosure is deemed necessary because of serious concerns for the safety, health or welfare of the member or another person, disclosure to relevant Officers of AMA Victoria, or disclosure otherwise authorised or compelled by law.
- Any member participating in the Doctor Support Service does so on the pre-condition that the guidelines of the service are accepted by that member.
- If either the volunteer or the member wishes to terminate the supportive relationship they may do so at any time and should notify staff in the Workplace and Advocacy Unit at AMA Victoria of their intention.