Medical Board of Australia
Medical Board of Australia
 

May 2015

Update Medical Board of Australia

Doctors' health programs

The Board joins forces with the AMA on a national health program for doctors and medical students

The Board has signed an agreement with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) for the delivery of nationally consistent external health programs, to be available to all medical practitioners and medical students no matter where they live.

The Board announced in 2014 that it would establish equitable national health programs for doctors and medical students and is committed to supporting the wellbeing of all doctors and medical students in Australia.

Creating health services that are accessible and fair to everyone – and are targeted to meet doctors’ needs – is a really important contribution the Board is proud to make.

The Board will fund the health programs, using existing resources from medical practitioners’ registration fees, but will not be involved in the establishment or running of the services. A subsidiary company of the AMA, Doctors Health Services Pty Limited (DHS), will ensure services are delivered by service providers in every state and territory in a nationally consistent way.

Under the terms of the Board and AMA contract, existing health programs will be invited to express interest in continuing as the provider in that state or territory under new contract arrangements, providing core services which include:

  • confidential health-related triage, advice and referral services for registered medical practitioners and medical students

  • follow-up services for medical practitioners and medical students who need it, including support and advocacy in returning to work

  • education, awareness-raising and advice about health issues for medical practitioners and medical students

  • a physical office from which to provide services, or an alternative service arrangement

  • training to support doctors to treat other doctors, and

  • facilitation of support groups for medical practitioners and students with significant health problems.

DHS will have a five member Board and will be advised by an Expert Advisory Council (the Council) made up of representatives of service providers, doctors in training, medical students and the AMA. The Council will provide a forum for sharing information among providers; developing advice to the Board on matters such as program design and key performance indicators; developing policy on broader health issues for doctors; and developing common information and materials on doctors’ health.

The AMA will provide more information about how doctors and students can access the programs as they are established.

AMA President, Associate Professor Brian Owler said that the AMA has strongly advocated for improved access to doctors' health services across the country, and the new arrangements will deliver on that goal.

Read more in the media release.

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Revised registration standards

Criminal history and English language skills registration standards have been revised

The registration standards for criminal history and English language skills have been revised following consultation and have now been approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. They both 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 old standard, which is expected to have minimal impact on practitioners.

When a practitioner first applies for registration, the National Board requires the applicant to declare their criminal history in all countries, including Australia. All registered health practitioners must inform their National 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 and associated explanatory information are published on AHPRA’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, which included a public consultation. All Boards except the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia consulted on and revised their English languages skills standard. The standards are now largely common across professions.

The registration standard and supporting information are published on AHPRA’s website.

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Queensland complaints performance data

AHPRA has published data on Queensland complaints

AHPRA and the Board have published detailed performance data about notifications management in Queensland.

A co-regulatory system has been in place in Queensland since July 2014 and all complaints about Queensland medical practitioners are received by the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO). The Health Ombudsman is responsible for managing serious complaints relating to the health, conduct and performance of medical practitioners and other health practitioners in Queensland, and determines which complaints go to AHPRA and the National Boards after assessing their severity.

AHPRA provides quarterly data to the OHO about its performance in managing the complaints which come to AHPRA and the National Boards from the OHO. These data provide quantitative information about the number of complaints received and timelines for managing them.

The first report, which was published in May, includes detailed performance data about notifications management for the first three quarters from 1 July 2014 to 31 March 2015.

Analysis of these data, detailing matters managed by AHPRA and the National Boards, indicates:

  • complaint referral patterns from the OHO to AHPRA are variable month to month

  • on early trends, AHPRA is receiving 50 per cent fewer complaints than for the comparable period in 2013/14. This suggests the OHO is not accepting, is retaining and/or is closing most matters that the Ombudsman considers do not warrant further action. Of those we manage, more than 70 per cent require further regulatory action, and

  • investigation timelines continue to be a major focus for AHPRA and the Boards. Sixty seven of the matters open with AHPRA for longer than 18 months are about 25 practitioners. Multiple complaints about the same practitioner require more complex investigations.

AHPRA continues to focus on decreasing the time it takes to investigate matters, finalising more old investigations and improving the notifier and practitioner experience.

AHPRA will publish more national performance data throughout the next financial year.

The Queensland report is published on the AHPRA Statistics page. 

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Consultations

Consultation closing soon – cosmetic medical and surgical procedures

Time is running out to give the Board feedback on proposed guidance on cosmetic medical and surgical procedures. The Board is consulting on the best way to protect consumers seeking cosmetic medical and surgical procedures provided by medical practitioners.

The issues and options are outlined in the public consultation paper and regulation impact statement.

The Board is keen for feedback on the four options including the draft Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who provide cosmetic medical or surgical procedures.

Please provide written submissions by email, marked ‘Consultation – Cosmetic medical and surgical procedures provided by medical practitioners’ to medboardconsultation@ahpra.gov.au. The consultation period closes on 29 May 2015.

We usually publish submissions to consultations. More information about the consultation process is available in the consultation paper.  

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Accreditation

Accreditation of postgraduate medical councils

Under the National Law, an applicant for general registration who has an approved qualification is, among other things, required to have successfully completed a period of supervised practice.

The Board has an approved registration standard for this: Granting general registration as a medical practitioner to Australian and New Zealand medical graduates on completion of intern training. This standard defines the supervised practice that applicants for general registration are required to complete and states that all terms ‘must be accredited against approved accreditation standards for intern training positions by an authority approved by the Board’.

At the request of the Board, the Australian Medical Council (AMC) has undertaken work to implement a national standards framework for intern training. Under the national framework, the AMC reviews and accredits the authorities that accredit intern training programs in each jurisdiction against the Procedures for Assessment and Accreditation of Intern Training Accreditation Authorities. These authorities are commonly known as postgraduate medical councils (PMCs).

The AMC has granted initial accreditation and the Board has approved Health Leaders Australia, trading as Queensland Prevocational Medical Accreditation (QPMA), as the intern accreditation authority in Queensland.

This initial accreditation and approval continues until the AMC completes a formal review.

PMCs in other states and territories have already been accredited by the AMC and approved by the Board.

Two PMCs recently had a change of name. In the ACT, the accredited PMC is the Canberra Region Medical Education Council and in the Northern Territory it’s the Northern Territory Medical Education and Training Centre.

Further information about the PMCs is available on the Board’s Accreditation page.

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News and alerts

Call for applications: medical practitioner and community members for NSW Medical Board

There are now openings for medical practitioners and community members from New South Wales to join the NSW Medical Board. For more information, go to Call for applications on our website. 

June 2015 change to acupuncture endorsement arrangements

30 June 2015 will see the end of arrangements allowing some medical practitioners without approved qualifications to become endorsed for acupuncture.

The title ‘acupuncturist’ is a protected title under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law). Registered medical practitioners who wish to also call themselves an ‘acupuncturist’ must have their registration endorsed for acupuncture by the Medical Board or also hold registration with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia.

The requirements for medical practitioners who wish to have an endorsement on their registration for acupuncture are set out in the Medical Board’s registration standard Endorsement of registration for acupuncture for registered medical practitioners. The standard states that medical practitioners with general or specialist registration who do not hold an approved qualification can apply for endorsement of acupuncture until 30 June 2015 if they:

  1. were accredited by the Joint Consultative Committee on Medical Acupuncture as at 30 June 2012 and they have fulfilled the continuing professional development requirements for medical acupuncture for the previous triennium, or

  2. have claimed 25 or more acupuncture-related Medicare item numbers in the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2012 and they provide written confirmation of these claims and provide permission for the Board to communicate with Medicare to confirm this information.

Acupuncture-related Medicare item numbers refer to item numbers 173, 193, 195, 197 or 199.

From 1 July 2015, only medical practitioners with an approved qualification for acupuncture can apply for endorsement.

Medical practitioners who are eligible and wish to apply for endorsement of registration for acupuncture via the arrangements that will cease on 30 June 2015 should submit their application to AHPRA before 30 June 2015. We will accept an application for endorsement if you have made application to Medicare for confirmation of your acupuncture-related Medicare item numbers before 30 June 2015. The application will be finalised after we receive confirmation from Medicare.

From 1 July 2015, only medical practitioners with general or specialist registration, who also hold an approved acupuncture qualification, can apply for endorsement of registration for acupuncture with the Medical Board.

The approved qualifications are:

  • Graduate Certificate in Medical Acupuncture (Monash University), or

  • The Australian Medical Acupuncture Course.

Applicants with either of the above approved qualifications are also required to successfully complete the Fellowship of the Australian Medical Acupuncture College (FAMAC) Part 1 written and clinical examinations.

For more information, see the Board’s registration standard Endorsement of registration for acupuncture for registered medical practitioners

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Change to accessing superannuation for patients with a terminal illness 

The Government has announced that it will extend access to superannuation for patients with a terminal illness.

Under the current provision a person with a terminal illness has to obtain a certificate from two medical practitioners (including a specialist) that states the person has less than 12 months to live. This is being extended to 24 months to allow earlier access.

It is proposed that this change will take effect from 1 July 2015.

Further information is available in the Assistant Treasurer’s media release

For South Australian medical practitioners 

The South Australian Chief Medical Officer reminds medical practitioners in South Australia of their mandated responsibilities under the Children’s Protection Act 1993.

Medical practitioners have a legal obligation to notify Families SA of suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. Medical practices are also required to ensure they maintain child safe environments and lodge a compliance statement with Families SA. More information is available on the Families SA website.  

New patient resource from RACS on surgeons’ fees 

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has developed an information sheet for patients on surgeons’ fees. It outlines the types of questions patients should ask and the costs they should be aware of before having surgery.

The information sheet is available on the RACS website

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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. 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

Cruceru v Medical Board of Australia

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed an application by Dr Nicolae Cruceru to review a Medical Board of Australia decision to impose conditions on his registration. Read more in the media release.

Medical Board of Australia v Patel

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has ordered that Dr Jayant Patel must never be registered in the medical profession again in Australia. QCAT found that Dr Jayant Patel engaged in unsatisfactory professional conduct of a serious nature. Read more in the media release.

Medical Board of Australia v Dr Z

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found a medical practitioner engaged in professional misconduct, reprimanding him and suspending his registration for one year from 29 April 2015. The tribunal ordered that any information that might identify the patient, the patient’s family or the practitioner be suppressed. Read more in the media release.

Medical Board of Australia v Andrew

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has found Dr Steven Andrew behaved in a way that constituted professional misconduct, reprimanding and fining him $10,000, and imposing conditions on his registration. Read more in the media release.

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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