Conduct: Immediate action and public interest revisited.

Following attention to this issue in NSW (under s 150 of the National Law in that jurisdiction), Lee v Medical Board of Australia [2022] WASAT 28 (on AUSTLII) focuses on similar issues under the Western Australian legislation (section 156).

In the context of charges of domestic violence, the Tribunal considered the scope of public interest as basis for immediate action, along with conduct outside scope of clinical practice as basis for immediate action.

Dr Lee conceded that there was a basis for the Tribunal to reasonably believe there was a need for immediate action in the public interest, but argued (successfully) that the appropriate form of immediate action was to impose restrictions on his registration by way of conditions, rather than by suspending his registration entirely.

The Tribunal commented at [30] in respect of the Western Australian legislation:

For present purposes, it is not necessary to determine the scope of the power in s 156(1)(e). It suffices to say that the Parliament plainly contemplated that an allegation that a health practitioner has committed a serious crime, albeit one that lacks an obvious connection to clinical practice, may, depending on the circumstances, warrant immediate action against the practitioner. Immediate action may be warranted having regard to various public interest considerations, including the protection of the public, or maintenance of public confidence in the medical profession. Other public interest considerations may also be relevant.

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