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COAG Health Council meeting

Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health

At today’s COAG Health Council meeting, the State Government has agreed to collaborate with other states and the Commonwealth to develop a single, nationally consistent application pathway for people to access unregistered medical cannabis products.

Tasmania has been pushing for a consistent approach for the past two years. Having national consistency is important to ensure access to these products under appropriate medical guidelines.

Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme allows relevant medical specialists to prescribe unregistered cannabis products in circumstances where conventional treatment has been unsuccessful. Since the CAS commenced in September 2017, six applications have been approved, with a further three under consideration.

We are happy to work with other states, territories and the Commonwealth to have an approach that provides the necessary medical oversight in a consistent manner.

The health and wellbeing of doctors, particularly in relation to their mental health, is an extremely important issue around the country. It is critically important that doctors can access care and treatment should they need it. But there are concerns current mandatory reporting guidelines discourage doctors from seeking help due to fears of possible investigations and impacts on their career.

Therefore, I am pleased that national agreement has been reached to provide sensible exemptions for doctors from mandatory reporting requirements in certain circumstances to ensure they can access help they need. My priority has always been to ensure this exemption must uphold protections around patient safety, and I have been working with my counterparts in other jurisdictions to have this included.

Today’s agreement provides a reasonable solution that balances patient safety while ensuring doctors can access the care and treatment they need.

I also took the opportunity today to flag the challenges we face across the country with the increasing prevalence of dementia and an increasingly ageing population. I believe we need a National Dementia Action Plan and I will place this on the agenda of a future meeting of the COAG Health Council.