Podiatry Board of Australia to seek approval to change the title of podiatric surgeons

Australian Medical Association

Changes come after years of AMA advocacy.

Podiatrists who undertake procedures will no longer be able to use the title “podiatric surgeon” if a key recommendation of a review of the regulatory framework that applies to podiatric surgery are accepted by Health Ministers.

This follows strong advocacy over recent years by the AMA and other surgical groups about the danger posed to the public by being misled into thinking that a health care professional offering formal surgical services and who calls themselves a surgeon was a medically qualified doctor who has undertaken further extensive training leading to Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons – FRACS or equivalent.

This recommendation from the review has been accepted by Ahpra and the Podiatry Board. Federal and state/territory health ministers will need to amend the National Law to remove the “podiatric surgeon” title. The AMA is calling on health ministers to prioritise this change.

The AMA was critical of health ministers last year in failing to take the opportunity during the reforms to cosmetic surgery, which removed the ability of non-surgically qualified health practitioners to call themselves cosmetic surgeons, to also close the loophole allowing non-medically qualified podiatrists to call themselves surgeons. This failure has likely resulted in further patients being misled as to the qualifications of their health practitioner and potentially suffering unnecessary harm.

The AMA reaffirms its strong opposition to the use of the title “surgeon” by any practitioner who is not a medical practitioner and has not successfully completed a program of surgical training of at least the equivalent standard to that required to become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), including training programs with a substantial surgical component offered by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology (RANZCO) or the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG).

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