The Performance Program, introduced in October 2000, represents the culmination of intensive research, consultation and development. The Medical Council of NSW aims to ensure practitioners' professional performance is of a reasonable standard, and the Performance Program is central to this aim. The Program is designed to complement the existing conduct and health streams by providing an alternative pathway for practitioners who are neither impaired nor being investigated by the HCCC or being dealt with via other disciplinary processes, but for whom the Medical Council has concerns about the standard of their clinical performance.
The program is designed to provide an avenue for education and retraining where inadequacies are identified, while at all times ensuring that the public is properly protected. It is designed to address patterns of practice rather than one-off incidents unless the single incident is demonstrative of a broader problem.
The professional performance of a registered medical practitioner is defined to be unsatisfactory if it is below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience. In addition, the Medical Board of Australia has set out its expectations of registered medical practitioners in its document Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia.
The causes of poor performance are many and varied. Professional isolation and inattention to continuing professional development are common contributing factors. On occasions, doctors present with adequate knowledge, but an inability to apply it in their day-to-day practice. This may be due to external, 'distracters' such as illness and financial stress which may influence practitioner performance in the short or longer term.