The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14, 1889 MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS.
A very considerable amount of feeling has been excited in the Legislative Council by some of the provisions ot the Medical Practitioners' Bill, and as the measure deals with one of our most important social interests, affecting more or less every member of the community, it will be well to see what the Bill proposes to enact. The second part of the Bill is that which is of most general interest, dealing with the keeping of a " New Zealand Medical Register," specifying who may be registered, providing for the removal of names from the register for misconduct, and imposing penalties upon unregistered persons who shall practice medicine or surgery or assume titles which they aro not entitled to use under the proposed Act. The present Act, passed in 1869, entitled every person to registration who holds a British qualification, and " any person who has passed through a regular course of medical study ot not less than throe years' duration in a school of medicine or surgery, and has received, after due examination, from some university, college, or other body, a diploma, degree or license other than before specified." This has been capable of evasion, and tho Bill under consideration defines much more closely the qualifications of those entitled to registration in the Medical Register, and registered practitioners only shall be allowed to hold any public appointment or be able to recover charges for advice or attendance. Those to be entitled to registration are-(l) Every person who is registered in England, or possesses certificates which would entitle him to be registered in England ; (2) Graduates in medicine of the New Zealand University ; (3) "Any person who shall adduce proof . satisfactory to the. Council that he has passed through a regular course of medical study of not less than four years' duration, aud has received, after due examination in prcesentia, from some university, college, or other body or bodies other than those in the United Kingdom, a diploma or diplomas entitling him to practise medicine, surgery, or midwifery. , . . , provided ' that such university, college, or body is recognised by the Council,' and that any candidate for registration possessing a diploma granted in a country (like Germany) where a *tate examination ia required in addition to a University degree should furnish a certificate of his having passed such State examination." These provisions will prove fatal to the pretensions of not a few persons holding dubious foreign degrees from universities which do not require a regular course of study, and licenses which certify to very much less than three years' training. The establishment in practice of these pretenders, has, under the present Act been facilitated by leaving the decision as to the admissibility of the applicant's qualifications to the provincial registrars, who cannot be expected to be posted up in the niceties of University degrees and other medical certificates, but tho Bill establishes a Medical Council, elected by the practitioners on the registrar, the chief fauction of which will be to decide whether the papers of applicants for registration fulfil the conditions prescribed, and until the Medical Council have certified to the qualifications of an applicant his name cannot be placed npon the register. The register is to be open for public inspection on payment of a prescribed fee, so that patients can easily satisfy themselves of the standing of their doctor. The Bill farther empowers the Medical Council to make regulations for the examination and licensing of midwives, and specially provides against any duly qualified person being excluded from registration on account of sex or of the holding of any particular theory of medicine or surgery. We cannot see that there is any foundation for the fear that has been expressed by some of the speakers in the debate in the Council that the Bill, if carried, would be made use of by the Medical Council to form a " close corporation" of the practice of medicine in New Zealand. It appears to aim at the protection of the public more than the granting of privileges to the practi tioners. It ip, of course, impossible to prevent weak and ignorant persons from preferring the advice of pretenders to that of duly qualified practitioners ; but this Bill provides that persons not duly qualified shall not use any designation or description of a character which may leai to the belief that they are duly qualified. There is nothing to prevent anyone from giving medical advica, nor is any interference proposed with what is known as "counter practice,"— tho treatment of simple disorders by chemists. A man may even advertise himself as a " herbalist," or other such innocent designation ; bat if ho use tho name of "physician, surgeon, doctor, or consultant," or represents himself in any way as being a medical practitioner, without being on the register, he renders himself liable to a fine of £50. Traveling quaeks will also be put down by the measure, and much money thus saved and mis*hiaf prevented to tho public. Tho Bill baa reached tjie Jiower Hoi^e, and if the confusion that rale i there will give place to some attention to public t>U|iae|P, tty measure will probably page,