Patients are at risk after an amendment bill failed to address serious concerns around registered doctors operating in New Zealand, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) warns.
New Zealand Parliament's Health Select Committee decided not to recommend changes to the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA) Amendment Bill, which concerns RANZCR.
Teleradiology is the transmission of radiological patient images from one location to another for the purposes of sharing studies with other radiologists and physicians. Patient images can include X-rays, CT scans and MRIs.
Currently, there is no requirement for teleradiologists from overseas to register or stop them from providing teleradiology services to New Zealand patients.
"Transparency is a critical part of any healthcare system – but obviously not in New Zealand," RANZCR president Dr Lance Lawler said.
"New Zealand patients deserve the highest quality of healthcare.
"Patients must have confidence that the care they receive via teleradiology is no different to what they would receive from an on-site practitioner."
The Select Committee also decided to ignore a further amendment to the HPCAA which would require the Medical Council of New Zealand to register overseas teleradiologists.
"Without registration ... a patient has neither the assurance that their doctor has appropriate qualifications or would be subject to disciplinary proceedings if needed," Lawler said.
"In addition, by not amending the Act, the Government will have no idea of the qualities and capabilities of overseas teleradiologists."
He said the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders remains the top priority of RANZCR, which is disappointed by the decision from the Committee.
Lawler said teleradiologists play a vital role in New Zealand's healthcare system.
"Teleradiologists play a vital role in modern New Zealand healthcare, providing
critical support to people and practices in rural and isolated areas," he said.
"Their decisions can have a huge impact on the health of patients.
"There are, therefore, overwhelming reasons why overseas-based telehealth practitioners should be registered in New Zealand if providing services to New Zealand patients."
Lawler urged the New Zealand Government to revisit the HPCAA as soon as possible and to reconsider the decision from the Committee.