GENERAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
The Australian Medical Association’s “Privacy and Health Record Resource Handbook” provides comprehensive information for medical practitioners in the private sector.
The Resource kit is not intended to be comprehensive and is not a substitute for a thorough reading of the privacy legislation, the APPs and the guidelines. More importantly, the guide is not a substitute for independent legal advice where necessary. For more information, contact your indemnity insurer or your local.
The Medical Board of Australia’s “Good Medical Practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia” can be downloaded from http://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies/Code-of-conduct.aspx. This publication also advises on closing a medical practice.
MIGA has a Fact Sheet on closing your practice, which details NSW and Victorian legislative requirements. It can be found on their website: http://www.miga.com.au/riskresources/library/11RRFS02.pdf
The RACGP has a GP Management Toolkit which includes information on closing a practice. It can be downloaded from the RACGP website (Module 13: Closing a medical practice) and is for members only. It can be found at: http://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/business/managementtoolkit/module13/
STATE AND TERRITORY LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
In the ACT, the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997 provides that patients must be notified of the closure, merging or relocation of the practice and where they may access their records. The Act specifies how this will occur; eg, public notice in a newspaper and that patients are entitled to 30 days’ notice. How this is advised to patients can be found in one of their fact sheets.
The ACT Act also requires the practitioner to advise the Health Directorate of the closure or relocation of the practice and the Act should be read in preparation for the closure. Template letters and notices are also available. For further information: http://www.health.act.gov.au/professionals/health-practice-closure-merger-or-relocation
Check too the requirements in the ACT for charging patients to access their records and the ways in which this can be done. This information is found at: http://www.health.act.gov.au/sites/default/files//RECORD%20ACCESS%20FEES%20July%202017.pdf
NEW SOUTH WALES
New South Wales has legislation regarding health records and the transfer or closure of a medical practice; ie, New South Wales Government (Medical Practice Regulations 2008) which can be found that http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au
Victoria’s Department of Health has guidelines on closing a practice and you need also to consider the Health Records Act which stipulates your obligations in relation to patient records. Further information can be found at the Department of Health, Victoria www.health.vic.gov.au/healthrecords/
No other State or Territory has legislated to mandate your obligations when closing a medical practice as far as we can ascertain.