The Board’s revised registration standards for continuing professional development (CPD), recency of practice and professional indemnity insurance (PII) have been approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. The revised standards are being implemented progressively.
The revised CPD and recency of practice standards have been published on the Board’s website and will come into effect on 1 October 2016, to align with when most doctors renew their registration. They have been published early to support a smooth transition.
The revised CPD registration standard includes minor changes. All registered medical practitioners must continue to participate in regular CPD activities and the requirements are linked to the type of registration you hold.
The recency of practice registration standard has changed and there is now a minimum number of hours practitioners must practise to comply. The standard explains requirements for returning to practice after an absence and requirements for changing scope of practice.
To meet the standard, medical practitioners must practise within their scope of practice for a minimum total of:
Practitioners are encouraged to review the revised standard and the FAQ to check whether they will be affected by the change.
The revised PII registration standard came into effect on 1 January 2016. All registered medical practitioners must now comply with the revised standard, except for the requirement for retroactive cover which comes into effect on 1 October 2016. Details are available in the news item.
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The Board’s revised Guidelines – Supervised practice for international medical graduates came into effect on 4 January 2016. Supervision is a registration requirement for all international medical graduates (IMGs) who are granted limited registration or provisional registration. This includes overseas specialists who must practise under supervision while in a short-term training post, or until they gain Fellowship from the relevant accredited Australasian college and are granted specialist registration.
The revised supervision guidelines for IMGs have been reworded to make the Board’s expectations of IMGs, their supervisors and their employers clearer.
There are some changes to the requirements including clearer descriptions of the four levels of supervision and revised supervision arrangements for IMGs providing home visits or locum services.
Transitional arrangements apply for IMGs who were registered before the revised guidelines started on 4 January 2016.
Supervision in hospitals
For IMGs working in hospitals, there are not significant changes. The guidelines still allow flexibility when arranging supervision. A Director of Medical Services (DMS) or Director of Clinical Training (DCT) (or equivalent) can be approved as the IMG’s principal supervisor and can then appoint other specialists as term co-supervisors without the need for Board approval for each supervisor. With a number of term co-supervisors sharing the supervision, the IMG can be appropriately supervised for every shift.
The guidelines allow hospitals to propose supervision arrangements which are based on their existing hospital supervision structures and protocols. The principal supervisor must still ensure that the proposed supervision plan outlines how the hospital will ensure that appropriate supervision is provided.
Online education and assessment module for supervisors
The Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA emailed information to current Board-approved supervisors in recent months. This included updates on the new requirement for all supervisors to complete an online education and assessment module. If you are a supervisor and have not yet received your login details, please check – the emails may be in your junk folder.
The module aims to help supervisors understand their role and obligations as a supervisor of IMGs, as outlined in the revised guidelines. The module is not designed to be a barrier to supervision of IMGs.
The module includes a quiz with 10 multiple choice questions. The content is based solely on the revised guidelines. It is not specific to supervision in hospitals or general practice. It covers the principles of supervision and assesses the supervisor’s familiarity with the guidelines, such as the different responsibilities of the principal supervisor and the co-supervisor.
Feedback from supervisors indicates that the education module can be completed in less than 15 minutes. More than 70 per cent of supervisors have now successfully completed the module. Reminder emails are now being sent to supervisors who have not yet done so.
Hospital-based specialists who are term co-supervisors of IMGs will be progressively emailed the login details. In future, new supervisors will be contacted directly with information about the module and how to access it, after the Board approves the IMG’s supervised practice plan and the new supervisor(s).
The requirement does not apply to doctors who only supervise medical students or Australian and New Zealand medical graduates.
The Board will closely monitor the implementation of the revised guidelines and the introduction of the module.
Supervisors are reminded that the Board must approve proposed changes to supervision arrangements. A supervisor cannot arrange for a new supervisor to permanently take over their role without Board approval.
The Board appreciates the commitment of supervisors who agree to supervise IMGs. Appropriate supervision is essential to protecting the public and ensuring IMGs are appropriately supported.
More information on supervision, including revised registration forms and templates for supervision plans, is available on the website.
The Board has been considering how best to ensure medical practitioners maintain and enhance their professional skills and knowledge and remain fit to practise medicine.
The Board has appointed a Revalidation Expert Advisory Group (EAG), chaired by Professor Liz Farmer. The EAG had its first meeting in January 2016 and was established to provide expert advice to the Board on revalidation, including developing one or more models for Australia and providing advice about how to pilot the models so that they can be evaluated for effectiveness, feasibility and acceptability. The Board expects the EAG to report back before the end of 2016.
Members have been selected for their individual expertise in medical regulation, performance management, assessment of medical practitioners, medical education, and safety and quality and are:
The Board will also appoint a Consultative Committee. When established, it will provide a forum for discussion about what medical practitioners should do to demonstrate ongoing fitness and competence to practise, and give feedback on any proposed models for revalidation. The Consultative Committee will be chaired by the Chair of the Medical Board of Australia and include representatives of the Medical Council of New South Wales, the Australian Medical Council, specialist colleges, medical schools, the Australian Medical Association, consumers and government.
The Board will continue to consult widely and looks forward to medical practitioners’ input into its ongoing work on revalidation.
One of the objectives of the National Law is to facilitate the provision of high quality education and training of health practitioners. The accreditation function is the primary way of achieving this. More information about the Medical Board’s accreditation function is available on our Accreditation page.
College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand
After receiving advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the accredited CPD program and the training programs of CICM leading to the award of Fellowship of the College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand as providing an approved qualification for the purposes of specialist registration to 31 March 2019.
University of Melbourne
After receiving advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the four-and-a-half-year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and the six-year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery/Bachelor of Medical Science (MBBS/BMedSci) of the University of Melbourne as providing approved qualifications for the purposes of general registration to 31 March 2018.
Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria
After receiving advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria as an intern training accreditation authority in Victoria to 31 March 2020.
There are vacancies on the Northern Territory Medical Board for medical practitioners and community members. Applications close Monday 29 February 2016. For further information, read the call for applications on our website.
A new drug screening protocol is now in place for registered health practitioners with a history of substance misuse who have conditions placed on their registration.
When conditions are placed on a practitioner’s registration, AHPRA monitors the practitioner’s compliance with them. Conditions are designed to keep the public safe while the practitioner remains in safe practice.
From November 2015, all health practitioners who have conditions on their registration as a result of past substance misuse, must now have routine quarterly hair testing, as well as random urine testing. Routine hair testing provides additional information about the use of a wide range of drugs, over a longer time. It therefore gives the Board more assurance that the practitioner is not impaired as a result of ongoing substance misuse.
As required by the National Law1, the Medical Board pays the costs of testing, when testing is required as part of a health assessment required by the Board. Medical practitioners pay for their ongoing screening costs, including the cost of hair testing.
More information is available in the news item.
AHPRA has published information for employers of health practitioners to remind them of their obligations.
It is an employer’s responsibility to check that a practitioner is registered before employing them.
Employers need to stay up to date with any changes to their employees’ registration. If employers employ large numbers of practitioners, there are tools to help – there is a free bulk check service (check up to 50,000 practitioners at a time) and the Practitioner Information Exchange allows employers to create alerts when an employee’s registration status changes.
Employers also have mandatory notification obligations (including employers who are not registered health practitioners). If an employer believes a registered practitioner might pose a risk to the public because of their behaviour or health, they may have a legal obligation to report ‘notifiable conduct’ to AHPRA.
AHPRA has launched a video and an accompanying infographic explaining the Australia-wide scheme that regulates Australia’s 630,000-plus registered health practitioners.
Aimed primarily at the community, the video explains how the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme works and how patients are protected.
You can watch the video on AHPRA’s YouTube channel.
In February 2016 the Senate agreed to establish an inquiry into medical complaints processes in Australia, in response to a motion co-sponsored by independent Senators Nick Xenophon and John Madigan.
The terms of reference are broad and include the prevalence of bullying and harassment in Australia’s medical profession, the roles of AHPRA and the Medical Board and other relevant organisations in managing investigations into medical practitioners, and the operation of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The inquiry is due to report in June.
AHPRA and the Board will participate in the inquiry. Our response to the report from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons on bullying and harassment is available in this media statement.
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
AHPRA on behalf of the 14 National Boards publishes a record of panel, court and tribunal decisions about registered health practitioners. Summaries are published when there is clinical and educational value.
Under the National Law, the Board must refer a matter about a registered medical practitioner or student to a tribunal if the Board 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. 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.
Medical Board of Australia v Schneider
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found Dr Andrew Carl Schneider, an anaesthetist, engaged in professional misconduct. Read more in the tribunal summary.
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.
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.
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For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the AHPRA customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).