Torquay clinic defends GP’s choice
A MEDICAL clinic in Torquay has defended one of its general practitioners deciding to discontinue their involvement in services relating to reproductive health.
Torquay Medical Health and Wellness Clinic alerted patients of changes to Dr Hong Nguyen’s appointments via a notice in the Geelong Road clinic, which quickly circulated on social media.
The notice said Dr Hong would no longer be involved in prescribing contraception, sterilisation referrals or consultations for abortions, IVF or vasectomies.
But the clinic fears “misleading information” about the practice’s stance on women’s health is being spread online, with outraged community members declaring their intentions to boycott its services.
Tori Edmonds, personal assistant to Geelong Medical and Health Group’s general manager, said Dr Hong was the only GP at the practice who conscientiously objected to providing the services, and that the clinic could accommodate all patients via consultations with its other GPs.
“We want to clear up this misinformation by stating we do support women’s health and the rights of women to make their own health decisions,” the clinic said in a statement.
According to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), it is acceptable for a doctor to refuse to provide or to participate in certain medical treatments or procedures based on a conscientious objection.
The AMA also states a conscientious objection is based on sincerely held beliefs and moral concerns, not self-interest or discrimination.
But some local MPs are worried these decisions will become more frequent if the Religious Freedom Bill passes.
While the clinic said Dr Hong’s decision was not religiously motivated, Member for Western Victoria Andy Meddick said he believed religiously motivated attitudes were being “emboldened” by the bill.
“Religious decisions have no place in reproductive healthcare. Nobody should be turned back, embarrassed or shamed when they go to see their doctor — often at the most vulnerable time.
“If this bill passes, GPs will not only be able to conscientiously object, but they may also refuse to refer patients. This could cost lives.”
In its statement, the clinic said “our community has many different religions, different personal views on culture, conduct (and) political opinion from one side to the other”.
“We try to navigate this by a diverse team which enables the freedom of choice to our patients for their GP,” it said.
South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman said the Department of Health and Human Services would pursue the matter with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.