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6.5.7 Qualifications of those Persons Certifying Incapacity
Section 5 of the MRCA defines medical practitioner as a person registered or licensed as a medical practitioner under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the registration or licensing of medical practitioners. Medical certificates in support of a claim for incapacity, must originate from a 'legally qualified medical practitioner'.
Delegates may not, therefore, accept certificates of incapacity written by persons other than medical doctors i.e. persons legally qualified and licensed to practice medicine. Certificates from para-professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, podiatrists etc. are not acceptable. Of course delegates should not accept incapacity certificates or in fact any form of advice from practitioners of non-mainstream practices such as traditional Chinese medicine, 'natural' therapists, herbalists etc.
With respect to cases involving mental illness, delegates should be aware that while psychiatrists are specialist medical doctors i.e. licensed to practice medicine, psychologists are not. Nevertheless, certificates of incapacity may usually be accepted from the persons' treating clinical psychologists at the discretion of the delegate, providing that the person has been properly referred to that psychologist by either the treating GP, or by a qualified psychiatrist for the purposes of ongoing therapy. Where however, all of a person's certificates of incapacity over a six month period come exclusively from a psychologist, a delegate should require periodic validation of that ongoing incapacity by a specialist psychiatrist or if seen regularly by a GP for treatment, medication, etc. that treating GP.
Whichever doctor referred the person to the psychologist should also provide an opinion as to whether the program of psychological treatment continues to be of benefit.