During the early 1990s there was an increasing awareness of shortcomings in the provision of health services to the medical profession, and in particular the provision of assistance to doctors and medical students who had health problems that were causing, or likely to cause impairment. This concern was widespread throughout the profession, and investigations were made into possible solutions to the problem. In 2001, the Victorian Doctors’ Health Program (VDHP) was established as a not-for-profit and fully independent entity, separate from the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria (MPBV – now AHPRA) and the AMA Victoria. The program has broad support from across the medical profession and is believed to be the first Doctors’ Health Program of its kind, outside North America.
In 2000, Dr Taffy Jones was appointed the first Chair of the Board of VDHP. Dr Jones brought to this role strong recognition as a leader in healthcare services and a compassionate supporter of the medical profession. His commitment proved crucial in the early stages of the development of the program. In 2005, Dr Kerry Breen was appointed Chair of the Board. Dr Breen had been instrumental in the establishment of VDHP while President of the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria (MPBV) and was ideally placed to further this commitment as Chair of the VDHP Board. His hard work and passion for doctors’ health issues ensured the organisation continued in a positive direction. Dr Robyn Mason was appointed Chair of the Board in 2009 and Dr Bill Pring in 2011.
In 2001, Dr Naham (Jack) Warhaft was appointed the first Medical Director of VDHP. Dr Warhaft came from an anaesthetics background and developed an interest in doctors’ health through working with anaesthetists who had become impaired as a result of chemical dependency. He further developed his knowledge in doctors’ health issues by working with US and Canadian physician health programs. Jack’s enthusiasm and passion for doctors’ health issues benefited the many doctors that consulted VDHP during those years. Dr Warhaft stepped down in 2007 and VDHP appointed an interim CEO, Professor Greg Whelan AM. Prof Whelan provided invaluable assistance to the organisation by maintaining its services, providing financial guidance and inducting new staff. Dr Kym Jenkins was appointed Medical Director in 2007 and resigned in August 2017.
Dr Mitchell Chipman
Mitchell Chipman has sat on multiple boards and the experience gave him a reasonable grasp of the issues facing the VDHP.
Dr Naomi Harris
Dr Naomi Harris joined the VDHP board in 2012. She is a GP with a long-held interest in the mental health of doctors and medical students.
Dr Catherine Mandel
Dr Catherine Mandel is an AMA Victoria Board member and joined the VDHP board in late 2016. She is a radiologist.