Performance Assessment Committee
The Performance Assessment Committee (PAC) is made up of two medical members and a lay member. The PAC can assess a doctor’s performance at any time.
A performance assessment is a practice visit by two medical members and a member who is not a health practitioner. These members form the performance assessment committee (PAC). The assessment itself is broad based, usually takes place over 2 days and can look at a number of areas of the doctor's practice, such as:
- medical records
- patient consultations
- prescribing practices
- surgical skills
- clinical knowledge
- communication skills
- systems within practice
Following the visit, the PAC provides a report to Council which is initially reviewed by one of Council's Medical Advisers and then sent to the doctor for their comment. The report and response is then considered at a Council meeting, where one of the following outcomes is decided:
If we determine that the doctor has met the required standard of competence
Options available to Council in this scenario are:
- to take no further action
- to make a recommendation for the doctor to undertake further education based on what the PAC has reported.
If we determine that the doctor has failed to meet the required standard of competence
Council must make one or more of the following orders:
- that the doctor undertakes an educational programme, which is typically 12 months
- one or more conditions are included in the doctor’s scope of practice
- the doctor sits an examination or undertakes an assessment
- the doctor is counselled or assisted by one or more nominated persons
We have found that the best educational outcomes are when doctors are engaged throughout the process. However, if the Council has serious concerns about the doctor’s competence following an assessment, interim suspension of their practising certificate may be proposed.
Educational programmes are the most common outcome when Council has found that a doctor is not practising at the required standard.
The programme focusses on the areas identified in PAC report as requiring development. To help the doctor meet the requirements, they are given an educational supervisor who specialises in their area of medicine. The supervisor’s role includes providing us with regular reports on the doctor’s progress.
The educational supervisors appointed by Council will generally have held teaching roles in the past, will be in good standing with Council and will hold vocational registration.
Relevant publications around performance assessment
The following publications contain detailed information for doctors undergoing a performance assessment:
This document by Dr Ian St George, a former Council medical adviser, outlines the practice and theory of performance assessments. A range of topics are covered, from ‘How to identify an underperforming doctor’ to ‘Assessing the doctor who practises complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)’. It is particularly helpful for doctors wanting to avoid under performance and professional isolation.