Fighting for the right for senior doctors to work past retirement age

SENIORS need to fight for their rights and make politicians realise that older people still have a voice at the ballot box, says Perth doctor K C Wan.

Dr Wan has been championing the movement for fairness and justice for doctors who want to work past retirement age.

“But this is not just about doctors. Plenty of people like to keep working and should be encouraged. It’s good for you,” he said.

At 74, Dr Wan has more than the average briefcase of credentials.

He is registered as a specialist in occupational and environmental medicine with Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA) Medical Board and is a fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the Royal Australian College of Physicians.

He was a physician in WA’s Health Department in 1979-1983 and chief occupational health physician and WorksafeWA inspector in 1983-2001 (while a medical member in the WA Workers Compensation Commission and medical adviser to the WA Mines Department).

Dr Wan held appointments as adjunct professor in occupational medicine in Curtin University and Edith Cowan University, is past-president of the Occupational Health Society and Australian and NZ Society of Occupational Medicine (WA chairman).

He is chairman of the WorkcoverWA Industrial diseases medical panel for determination of pneumoconiosis compensation.

Dr Wan practices part-time as a private consultant occupational physician and supervises a trainee to become a specialist in occupational and environmental medicine.

(He’s also past vice-president and now honorary secretary of the Chung Wah Association WA).

He told Have a Go News: “Seniors should stand for their rights otherwise they will lose them. More seniors will have to go on Centrelink pension when they lose the franking credits for self-funded retirees should Bill Shorten become prime minister.

“Seniors should show their disapproval of such unfair policy at the ballot box in the federal elections. There are about 2000 senior doctors with valuable expertise and experience being forced out of part time practice by the unreasonable conditions for renewal of registration imposed by the bureaucrats of AHPRA,” he said.

Dr Wan said the right to renew medical registration after retirement was terminated by the AHPRA.

There was now no concession to assist senior doctors to continue restricted practice or work part-time.

AHPRA required an annually-rising registration fee ($742), medical defence insurance (at least $3,000 a year), 100 hours of medical education/professional development (CPD) every calendar year and proof of “recency of practice” of at least three hours a week.

“AHPRA is proposing recertification or revalidation of competency to practice that is not substantiated by evidence that it is necessary. Many senior doctors have given up as it is not worthwhile to continue because of the onerous requirements,” he said.

Senior doctors have formed the Association of Senior Active Doctors to highlight the issue.

Father-of-three Dr Wan (a daughter is a Perth GP) earned his medical degree in Singapore and worked as a medical officer in Malaysia in 1969-1979.

After coming to Perth in 1979, he was employed by the Health Department as a specialist occupational health physician.

Reluctant to have his photo published, Dr Wan, after his lifetime’s professional, educational and community contributions, clearly deserves to be heard.

“There’s a lesson here for all seniors. You better do something for yourselves. If you accept things, they’ll kick you around,” he said.