Patients are at risk after a change in legislation does not provide a solution to serious concerns about registered doctors working in New Zealand, warns the Royal Australian and the New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR).
The Health Select Committee of Parliament in New Zealand has decided not to recommend any changes to the Competence Assurance Assurance Act (HPCAA) Bill, which pertains to RANZCR.
Teleradiology is the transfer of radiological patient images from one location to another for sharing studies with other radiologists and physicians. Patient photos can include x-rays, CT scans and MRIs.
At present, there is no requirement for teleradiologists from abroad to register or stop offering teleradiology services to New Zealand patients.
"Transparency is a crucial part of any healthcare system – but of course not in New Zealand," said Dr. RANZCR Chairman. Lance Lawler.
"New Zealand patients deserve the highest quality of health care.
"Patients must be confident that the care they receive through teleradiology is no different from what they would receive from an on-site practitioner."
The limited committee also decided to ignore another amendment to the HPCAA, which would oblige the New Zealand Medical Council to register overseas teleradiologists.
"Without registration … a patient does not have the assurance that his or her doctor has the right qualifications or would be subject to disciplinary proceedings if necessary," Lawler said.
"Moreover, by not changing the law, the government will have no idea of the qualities and possibilities of overseas teleradiologists."
He said that the health and well-being of New Zealanders remains the top priority of RANZCR, who is disappointed by the committee's decision.
Lawler said that teleradiologists play a vital role in the healthcare system in New Zealand.
"Teleradiologists play a vital role in modern healthcare in New Zealand
critical support for people and practices in rural and isolated areas, "he said.
"Their decisions can have a huge impact on the health of patients.
"There are therefore overwhelming reasons why overseas telecare practitioners in New Zealand should be registered if they provide services to New Zealand patients."
Lawler urged the New Zealand government to re-visit the HPCAA as soon as possible and to review the decision of the committee.