‘Grave concerns’ for new doctor impairment laws

Both sides of politics expressed satisfaction with the tougher rules as a good balance between the goals of increased transparency and patient safety and practitioners’ rights to privacy.

But critics fear some practitioners may be unfairly damaged by disclosures of sensitive information by employers or colleagues.

The state vowed to step up the disclosure requirements in response to the scandal over cocaine-addicted surgeon Suresh Nair, who was convicted over the overdose deaths of two sex workers in 2009.

Nair, a neurosurgeon, was able to keep practising at a Western Sydney hospital even after his clinical privileges at another hospital had been withdrawn and his cocaine addiction had spiralled out of control.

Under the NSW Health Practitioner Regulation Legislation Amendment Bill passed last week, practitioner councils will be obliged to inform employers of the details of restrictions on impaired health workers.