Medical Board of Australia

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Medical Board of Australia
 

August 2016

Update Medical Board of Australia

Chair’s message

The Medical Board is now seeking feedback from the medical profession and the community on options for revalidation in Australia. Whatever we call this, there is no doubt that the word revalidation conjures up fears in the minds of many doctors. We can allay some of these right now. The Board has ruled out a UK-style revalidation system. We are also not proposing that doctors should re-sit their fellowship exams every five years.

The fundamental purpose of revalidation is to ensure public safety in health care. The question we are asking is simple: What would ensure that all practising doctors are performing at an appropriate level? Our Expert Advisory Group on revalidation has delivered its interim report, proposed some directions and posed many questions. The Board wants to hear what you think. The opportunity now is for the profession to take responsibility, individually and collectively, for the future standards of medical practice in Australia. We encourage you to read the report and join the discussion so we can hear your views about the propositions set out by the EAG.

Dr Joanna Flynn AM
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Maintaining patient trust

Board launches revalidation consultation

Strengthened continuing professional development (CPD) for all and screening for at-risk doctors should underpin future approaches to revalidation in Australia, according to an expert report to the Medical Board.

The Board asked for advice from an expert advisory group on revalidation about what it should do to make sure that medical practitioners in Australia maintain and enhance their professional skills and knowledge and remain fit to practise medicine.

We now want to hear what the profession and the community think about the proposal. The consultation is open until the end of November 2016.

Board Chair, Dr Joanna Flynn AM, told the consultation launch that the Board had ruled out UK-style revalidation.

She said the Board was committed to finding the most practical and effective way to keep practitioners’ skills and knowledge up to date, tailored to the Australian healthcare environment.

The Board has launched a consultation on revalidation and published a discussion paper and the interim report of the expert group.

The interim report proposes a ‘two by two’ approach to revalidation in Australia:

  • Two parts: Strengthened CPD + proactive identification and assessment of ‘at-risk’ and poorly performing practitioners. 
  • Two steps: Engage and collaborate in 2016 + recommend an approach to pilot in 2017.

This ‘two by two’ model represents evolution, not revolution, in the requirements for doctors to make sure they provide safe care to patients throughout their working lives, the report states.

‘An integrated approach will be most effective. CPD alone, however rigorous, may not identify the practitioner who may be putting the public at risk. A regulatory approach, however thorough, cannot reliably, single-handedly improve the quality of care provided by most competent doctors,’ the report states.

The core features of the proposed approach are:

  • Strengthened CPD: Evidence-based approaches to CPD best drive practice improvement and better patient healthcare outcomes. Strengthened CPD, developed in consultation with the profession and the community, is a recommended pillar for revalidation in Australia. 
  • Identifying and assessing at-risk and poorly performing practitioners: A small proportion of doctors in all countries are not performing to expected standards at any one time, or over time. Another group of practitioners is at risk of poor performance. Developing accurate and reliable ways to identify practitioners at risk of poor performance and remediating them early is critical, with considerable transformative potential to improve patient safety. It is equally critical to identify, assess and ensure there is effective remediation for practitioners who are already performing poorly.

Most of the practitioners in the at-risk groups will be able to demonstrate that they are performing satisfactorily, just as most people who are screened in a public health intervention do not have the disease for which the screening program is testing.

Join the consultation:

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Renewal for 2016-17

Online registration renewal now open

You can apply online now to renew your medical registration for another year. If you have provided AHPRA with your email address, you will have received your first reminder to renew.

The registration fee for medical practitioners for 2016/17 is $724 (the same amount as last year). The fee schedule is available on the fees page.

A video and ‘Tips for renewing online’ is available for medical practitioners on the registration renewal page.

Tidying up published qualifications

This year we have added an extra step in the renewal process, to help make sure that the details we publish about your registration on the online national register of practitioners are accurate and complete.

When you apply to renew your registration, you will be asked to check that your qualification(s) are recorded correctly and are complete. If the details are correct, simply select ‘Yes’. You don’t need to do anything else. If they are not accurate, we will ask you to provide us with the updated information. If you have registration as a specialist, we will ask you about how you became eligible for specialist registration.

For example, you may have:

  • been awarded Fellowship by an accredited specialist medical college 
  • a specialist qualification from overseas which was recognised by an accredited specialist medical college, or 
  • transitioned into the National Scheme from a state or territory medical board with specialist registration.

There is also an option to tell us if you are unsure of your pathway or eligibility.

Which qualifications are published

Under section 225(n) of the National Law, the national register includes details of any qualifications you relied on to obtain your registration. Before July 2010, previous state and territory medical boards may have recorded other qualifications, diplomas and memberships, some of which may have been published on the National Register. Now, any qualifications that did not lead to registration as a medical practitioner are no longer published on the national register.

Due dates

Registration renewal for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is due 30 September 2016. Renewal applications received during October will incur a late payment fee.

By law, all practitioners who apply to renew on time are able to practise while their annual renewal application is being processed. If you apply to renew on time or during the late renewal period, you can still practise medicine even if:

  • we are still processing your application to renew 
  • we are still processing your request to update your qualifications, and/or 
  • the registration expiry date displayed on the register has passed.

Even if the registration expiry date displayed has passed, if your name appears on the national register, this confirms that you are registered.

We understand that this can be confusing. If an employer or a member of the public wants to confirm that you are registered, they can also telephone us on 1300 419 495.

A practitioner who does not apply to renew their registration by the end of the late renewal period must be removed from the register of medical practitioners. Their registration will lapse and they will not be able to practise medicine in Australia. A fast-track application can be made, but the practitioner cannot practise until the application is processed and the national register is updated. This can take time.

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Revised PII registration standard

The Board’s new requirements for professional indemnity insurance (PII) come into effect on 1 October 2016. By then, all registered medical practitioners must have appropriate retroactive PII cover for otherwise uncovered matters arising from prior practice undertaken in Australia.

You can seek advice from your insurer to confirm whether your current insurance includes retroactive cover. If you do not currently have appropriate retroactive cover as part of your PII policy, you will need to ask your insurer to amend your policy to include this cover from 1 October 2016.

The requirement for retroactive cover is the last part of the revised PII registration standard to take effect. The rest of the revised standard took effect on 1 January 2016. Read more about the new PII registration standard.  

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Review commissioned.

Independent review on chaperoning

The Board and AHPRA have commissioned an independent review on the use of chaperoning restrictions. While chaperoning is widely used by regulators internationally, this independent review will assess its effectiveness in keeping patients safe in Australia.

The review will be led by Professor Ron Paterson, an international expert on patients’ rights, complaints, healthcare quality and the regulation of health professions. He is Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Melbourne Law School. He was New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner 2000-2010 and New Zealand Parliamentary Ombudsman 2013-2016.

We will report to health ministers on the outcomes of the review and commit to full transparency in how we respond to its recommendations.

Of Australia’s 106,857 registered medical practitioners, 47 have chaperoning restrictions on their registration (0.04%). Chaperoning restrictions are used as an interim measure while investigations into allegations of serious misconduct continue. Restrictions are published on the online Register of practitioners and compliance is actively monitored by AHPRA.

For more information, see the media release.

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Mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Reporting obligations - child abuse

Medical practitioners are obliged to report suspected child abuse. The Board is reminding you about this, in the context of the findings of a public hearing of The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Royal Commission’s Case study No. 27 examined the response of medical regulators, health complaints entities and health services to allegations of child sexual abuse. The hearing focused on abuse of children dating back to the 1970s by a medical practitioner who was in private practice and worked at a public hospital in NSW.

The Report noted that ‘the reporting obligations of medical practitioners in relation to historical child sexual abuse under the (NSW Act) are not well understood by practitioners’.

This is particularly relevant when the reporter knows that the alleged perpetrator is a health practitioner who is still practising.

While the comments in the published Report of case study no. 27 relate to NSW legislation, there are mandatory reporting laws in force in each state and territory which require certain people (including medical practitioners) to report suspected child abuse to the relevant authority, even when the alleged abuse was in the past.

There are differences across jurisdictions about who must report and what must be reported. Medical practitioners are reminded to check their obligations, relevant to the state or territory where they practise.

These obligations are separate from a registered medical practitioner’s requirement to also report another practitioner’s ‘notifiable conduct’ to AHPRA.

There is information available on the Commonwealth Government website under Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect. State and territory governments are responsible for receiving reports. Information on how to report, including contact details (phone numbers and email) for the reporting authority in each state and territory, is available at Reporting abuse and neglect.

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Panel, court and tribunal decisions.

Latest tribunal decisions published online

AHPRA on behalf of the 14 National Boards publishes a record of panel, court and tribunal decisions about registered health practitioners.

Court and tribunal decisions

Under the National Law, the Board must refer a matter about a registered medical practitioner or student to a tribunal if it reasonably believes that the practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct; or the practitioner’s registration was improperly obtained because the Board was given false or misleading information. The Board must also refer the matter to a tribunal if a panel established by the Board requires the Board to do so.

Medical practitioners may also appeal certain decisions of the Board to a tribunal or court.

AHPRA publishes summaries of tribunal or court cases. These can be sourced at Tribunal decisions on the AHPRA website. The Board and AHPRA sometimes choose to not publish summaries, for example about cases involving practitioners with impairment.

A full library of published hearing decisions from tribunals or courts relating to complaints and notifications made about health practitioners or students is available on the Austlii website

NSW and Queensland

In NSW and Queensland, different arrangements are in place.

In NSW, medical tribunal, court and committee decisions are published separately. In Queensland, complaints are received by the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO).

More information is available on AHPRA’s website under Notification outcomes and hearing decisions.

Recent decisions of tribunals

Medical Board of Australia v Tabriz

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has suspended Dr Masoud Davatgaran Tabriz’s registration for professional misconduct. Read more in the tribunal summary.

Medical Board of Australia v de Silva

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has cautioned Dr Indunil Shiranth de Silva, after finding that he had behaved in a way that constituted unsatisfactory professional conduct. Read more in the tribunal summary.

Panel hearings

When investigating a notification, state and territory committees of the Medical Board of Australia may refer a medical practitioner to a health panel hearing, or a performance and professional standards panel hearing.

Under the National Law, panel hearings are not open to the public. AHPRA publishes a record of panel hearing decisions made since July 2010. Summaries have been provided when there is educational and clinical value. These summaries are accessible from hyperlinks within the table. Practitioners' names are not published, consistent with the requirements of the National Law. This table does not include summaries of panel decisions made under previous legislation, even if these were held after July 2010.

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Contacting the Board

  • The Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA can be contacted by phone on 1300 419 495.
  • For more information, see the Medical Board of Australia website and the AHPRA website.
  • Lodge an enquiry form through the website under Contact us at the bottom of every web page.
  • Mail correspondence can be addressed to: Dr Joanna Flynn AM, Chair, Medical Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

More information

Please note: Practitioners are responsible for keeping up to date with the Board’s expectations about their professional obligations. The Board publishes standards, codes and guidelines as well as alerts in its newsletter. If you unsubscribe from this newsletter you are still required to keep up to date with information published on the Board’s website.

Comment on the Board newsletter is welcome and should be sent to newsletters@ahpra.gov.au.

For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the AHPRA customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).

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Page reviewed 20/02/2017