June 2015

Update Medical Board of Australia

Chair’s message

Recent publicity about discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in medical training has put the spotlight on some deeply disturbing aspects of the culture of medicine. These are not new issues. Any group of doctors, trainees or medical students will be able to generate examples of inappropriate behaviours they have witnessed. These will include humiliation, harsh and judgemental criticism, sexism and inappropriate jokes as well as overt bullying and harassment. It is time for this to change. It is time to respond to inappropriate behaviour as it occurs and to show that it will no longer be tolerated. We cannot expect people to trust and respect the medical profession if we do not display trustworthiness and accountability. Read more on the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons website

Dr Joanna Flynn AM
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Update on revalidation research

Research on revalidation – next steps

Earlier this year the Medical Board of Australia commissioned a team of researchers, the Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education, Research and Assessment (CAMERA) at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (UK), to undertake research into revalidation and ways to make sure doctors keep their skills up to date throughout their professional lives.

The Board is looking forward to receiving the outcomes of the research, and will take some time to consider the report.

The Board will establish an expert group to provide it with advice on revalidation. The expert group will include independent members of the profession and community representatives.

We will seek the views of stakeholders, including the profession through consultation, as this important work continues. 

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Revised registration standards

Revised criminal history and English language skills registration standards take effect on 1 July

The registration standards for criminal history and English language skills have been revised after consultation and will take effect from 1 July 2015. 

Criminal history

The new criminal history registration standard will come into effect on 1 July 2015. It makes minor amendments to the current standard and the changes are expected to have minimal impact on practitioners.

When a practitioner first applies for registration, the Board requires the applicant to declare their criminal history in all countries, including Australia. All registered medical practitioners must inform the Board if they are:

  • charged with an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more, or
  • convicted or found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment in Australia and/or overseas.

When practitioners renew their registration they must disclose any changes to their criminal history.

The registration standard is available on the Board’s website.

English language skills

The new registration standard for English language skills will come into effect on 1 July 2015. It applies to all applicants for initial registration, regardless of whether they qualified in Australia or overseas.

The new standard introduces additional pathways for applicants to demonstrate evidence of their English language skills.

The new standard was developed after a review of the existing standard and public consultation on the proposed changes. The English language skills standards are now largely common across all professions (except Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners).

The registration standard and FAQs are available on the Board’s website.

Anyone applying for registration from 1 July 2015 should ensure they are using the updated application forms which will be available from 1 July 2015.

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Consultations

Hundreds of submissions to consultation on cosmetic medical and surgical procedures

The Board received hundreds of submissions in our recent consultation on cosmetic medical and surgical procedures.

The consultation asked for feedback on four options, including draft Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who provide cosmetic medical or surgical procedures.

Submissions came from a wide range of stakeholders including medical colleges, professional associations, medical insurers, medical practitioners, nurses who also work in the cosmetic field and patients.

The consultation has now closed and we are now analysing the submissions. These will soon be published.

We appreciate the thoughtful feedback we received, particularly from individuals who took the time to share their ideas.

We will keep you informed as this work progresses.

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News and alerts

The Board congratulates Dr Joanna Flynn AM on her AMA award

Members of the Medical Board of Australia congratulate the Chair of the Board, Dr Joanna Flynn AM, on being awarded the 2015 AMA Woman in Medicine award.

The award celebrates Dr Flynn’s leadership of the Medical Board of Australia and her contribution to general practice, medical regulation, and improving the quality of care for patients.

In 2011, Dr Flynn was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to medical administration and to the community, particularly in the areas of practice standards, regulation, professional education and as a general practitioner.

Read more in the media release.

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AHPRA calls for information on unregistered dental practitioners

AHPRA is calling for people who have been treated by unregistered dental practitioners in Melbourne’s northern suburbs to come forward, amid concerns about sub-standard dental care and poor infection control.

Any medical or dental practitioners who have treated patients who appear to have received dental treatment from unregistered practitioners are urged to call Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services on 1800 356 061 between 8am and 7pm or AHPRA on 1300 419 495.

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) regulates health practitioners to protect the public and manage risk to patients. The 14 National Boards register practitioners and students in their profession.

A National Board can’t discipline someone who is not registered. However, under the National Law1, AHPRA can prosecute a person who pretends to be a registered health practitioner, to protect the public.

AHPRA has charged a Victorian man for pretending to be a dentist (holding out), using a protected title (dentist) and carrying out restricted dental acts. The case is listed for hearing in the Magistrates’ Court in August.

Other investigations are continuing, after AHPRA executed three other, separate search warrants in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. AHPRA has no record of any registered dental practitioner, who is licensed to provide dental care, at any of the searched premises in Meadow Heights and Roxburgh Park.

AHPRA is working closely with Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services to manage these matters in the public interest.

Read more in the media release.


1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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RACS consultation on discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment 

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ expert advisory group on discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment is calling for submissions on an issues paper.

The issues paper aims to trigger debate and find solutions that will prevent and address discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the practice of surgery. Findings are likely to apply to the medical profession more broadly. The issues paper draws on research published in a background briefing, which found that:

  • discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace occur in many countries and many workplace environments
  • in the medical work environment, despite the fact that discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace have been prohibited by law for decades, these behaviours continue to be endemic
  • trainees, medical students, female staff and colleagues have been identified as the most likely targets or victims
  • surgeons as a group have been commonly identified as perpetrators
  • onlookers and observers can be both co-victims and co-supporters of discrimination and bullying, and
  • some workplaces support a ‘culture of abuse’ through a wide range of covert sanctions, including bystanders failing to act and disincentives for change.

Submissions are open until 20 July 2015. Information about how to make a submission is published on the RACS website.

See also the message from the Chair of the Medical Board of Australia in this newsletter.

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Changes to state and territory Medical Boards 

The Medical Board of Australia has established state and territory boards to make decisions about individual medical practitioners in each jurisdiction. This includes all registration and notification decisions.

The National Board has delegated many of its powers so that local decision-makers can respond effectively and in a timely way to local matters, working within a national policy framework.

The state and territory boards are made up of practitioner and community members and are appointed by the Minister for Health in each jurisdiction. Appointments are for up to three years and members are eligible for reappointment.

Some Board members from the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have recently resigned and new appointments have been made. The current members of state and territory boards can be found on the Medical Board’s website at About us

The Medical Board of Australia thanks the state board members who recently finished their terms on state boards and welcomes the newly appointed members.

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New form for Victorian medical practitioners authorising cremation

From 27 June 2015, the new Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015 will come into effect. The new regulations will replace the expiring Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2005.

Among other things, the Regulations prescribe the forms to be used when making applications for cremations in Victoria. This means that on 27 June 2015 the form currently used by medical practitioners to authorise cremations expires and must no longer be used.

The new Certificate of registered medical practitioner authorising cremation incorporates minor administrative updates and is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website. To ensure cremations are not unnecessarily delayed, please use this new version of the form when authorising cremations from this date.

If you have any questions about the new form, contact Ms Anne-Marie Nolan, Senior Project Officer, Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulation Unit, on telephone 1800 034 280.

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Panel, court and tribunal decisions

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. Summaries are published when there is clinical and educational value.

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 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.

Recent decisions of tribunals

There were no new cases published this month, but you can still access past cases.

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