Independent Audiologists Australia and Independent Audiologists New Zealand convened a three day interactive seminar in Wellington, NZ Independence Matters: Professionalism in Healthcare (15 – 17 May 2015), which was attended by a cross-section of audiologists, patients, consumer bodies, regulators, representatives of other health professions (including optometry, pharmacy and physiotherapy) and facilitated by panel of internationally recognised bioethicists comprising Professor Paul Komesaroff, Associate Professor Ian Kerridge and Professor Grant Gillett.
The seminar drew attention to relationships that audiologists hold with industry that have emerged but which, to date, have not been clearly defined, disclosed, constrained or regulated. These relationships are known to be of concern to patients, audiologists and other stakeholders, having been the topic of recent public scrutiny in the media. In order for the profession of audiology to achieve a position of trust within society, steps need to be taken. In particular, audiologists need to ensure transparency in relationships between themselves and other stakeholders.
We, the participants at the seminar co- convened by Independent Audiologists Australia and Independent Audiologists New Zealand, in Wellington, New Zealand, are mindful of the responsibility that rests on us at this moment in the history of our profession, to declare our commitment to:
- Ensuring a patient-centred approach within audiological services including the prescribing / dispensing elements of our practice.
- Building and strengthening relationships between stakeholders (including patients, colleagues, industry, funding bodies, regulators, training institutions, associations and health care practitioners) across the field of audiology in both Australia and New Zealand.
- Promoting a single code of professional conduct for audiologists, that incorporates clinical, ethical and legal aspects of practicing audiology in Australia and New Zealand.
- Reducing risk of harm (including risk of financial harm) to the public through seeking mandatory national registration in both New Zealand and Australia under the relevant regulatory structures.
- Guaranteeing transparency of interests (financial and otherwise) that could be perceived to influence the clinical judgement and professional recommendations made by audiologists, including transparency in billing for products and services.
- Encouraging professional bodies to uphold the code of conduct in the interests of all members, regardless of their employment status; including offering legal advice and mentoring within the profession.
Independent Audiologists Australia Inc and Independent Audiologists New Zealand will set in motion the process of:
- Drawing up and establishing a strategic plan including the ratification of this declaration by their respective bodies.
- Formalising joint cooperation between the two organizations to promote the implementation of this declaration.
- Seeking endorsement by stakeholders for this declaration.
- Preparing policy and position statements aimed at widespread implementation of this declaration.
- Applying and promoting this declaration when advocating for the profession of audiology.
- Providing guidance to professional bodies on the adjudication of complaints in light of this declaration.