Retired doctors push to provide medical care in COVID-19 pandemic, disasters

Retired doctors want to be part of an ongoing “ready reserve force” to help fill gaps in medical care during natural disasters, state emergencies, and pandemics like COVID-19.

Leading the push is AMA Queensland’s Associate Professor Geoffrey Hawson, a medical oncologist, haematologist and palliative care physician who has helped save lives at five major Queensland hospitals.


The 75-year-old, who retired three years ago, said like so many others medicos he was now willing to step up and help “give back to the community”.

“It is hard to turn your back on it. If you retire at 65 or 70 you probably have 45 years of medical experience and expertise that basically gets junked overnight,” Dr Hawson said.

“Once you retire and you are no longer registered you cannot use any of your skills or knowledge you used clinically and non-clinically, and that includes for research policy development, education, teaching,” Dr Hawson said.

“So that probably excludes anything.

“What we need is a coordinated system to roll out a ‘reserve’ force of doctors in times of need, such as this pandemic, future pandemics and natural disasters.

“So instead of just falling off the cliff when they retire they are effectively enrolled into a more limited step-down category.

“And by doing continuing professional development (CPD) and training, they would be at the ready for any major emergency.

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