Dear AHPRA – Dr Richard Wong

A letter to AHPRA


from Luke’s Journal 2019 | Hot Topics #2 | Vol. 24 No. 1

Doctor with gloved hand on the hand of female patient.
Image fernando zhiminaicela Pixabay 

Thank you for the opportunity to send in a submission.

“Good medical practice” being ‘patient-centred’ would benefit even more by taking into account our patients’ beliefs and spiritual understanding. The Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia 2009 states that “this includes cultural awareness: being aware of their own culture and beliefs and respectful of the beliefs and cultures of others, recognising that these cultural differences may impact on the doctor-patient relationship and on the delivery of health services”.

Often in my twenty-odd years of medical practice, the patient benefits more when we treat the patient as a whole person rather than merely a scientific object devoid of feeling, belief or hope.

Faith, therefore, is important in health care, as shown by various articles and research papers correlating this with good health outcomes. Furthermore it has been shown that many patients are open and keen to discuss their religious beliefs in the context of their health. In addition to this, in a number of jurisdictions around the world, it is a desired element of best medical practice.1

The Scottish patients’ charter expresses this sentiment reasonably well, “All patients can expect NHS staff to acknowledge their spiritual needs and aspirations and be sensitive to the wide variation in values and cultural backgrounds of their patients. In support of this, the NHS is expected to make every effort to provide for the spiritual needs of patients and staff”.

Of course this is all the context of general good medical practice – of treating the patient with sensitivity, permission and respect.

Thank you for reading and considering my submission to the revised code of conduct. I am happy to correspond further.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Richard Wong

MB BS BSc(Med) FRACGP DCH DRANZCOG CTh DCH rural locum doctor CMDFA /Healthserve

Dr Richard Wong
Dr Richard Wong is a GP with city and rural experience, and does part-time hospital work. He serves as the CMDFA QLD (and formerly NSW) secretary, on the board of Healthserve, as a Saline trainer, and is interested in medical missions, both short and long term.


  1. The UK GMC ethical guidance point 15: —knowledge-skills-and-performance#paragraph-14. New Brunswick College of physicians and surgeons code of ethics: Since I wrote the submission only about two months ago, ANZCA seems to have replaced its own code of conduct with the Australian medical code of conduct ( hence all the more reason we keep up the good fight of submissions !)