The Medical Board is pleased to release the report of its activities, Medical regulation at work in Australia, 2013/14. This is the first time we have extracted and collated the data and commentary specific to medicine from the wider AHPRA annual report. The registration data show that the numbers of international medical graduates with limited registration has decreased by 16% since last year while the total number of registered medical practitioners has increased by almost 4%. Notifications about medical practitioners have continued to increase year on year, this year by 19% overall. Our significant focus on improving timeliness in managing these notifications is starting to show results. The total number of open notifications has plateaued or started to fall in Queensland, WA, Victoria and NSW.
Dr Joanna Flynn AM
Chair, Medical Board of Australia
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Annual report published
Medical Board and state and territory summaries also available
The 2013/14 annual report of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards has been published. The annual report details the work in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the 12 months to 30 June 2014.
The National Scheme now registers more than 619,500 health practitioners, across all the regulated health professions.
This year, for the first time, there is also a profession-specific report focusing on the work of the Medical Board of Australia nationally and the state and territory medical boards. State and territory summaries are also available this year.
Medical Board report highlights:
- At 30 June 2014, there were 99,379 registered medical practitioners in Australia. This is an increase of 3.9% since 2013.
- The state with the largest number of medical practitioners is NSW (31,269). The state with the smallest number of medical practitioners is the NT (1,084).
- 40% of registered medical practitioners are women.
- 38% of registered medical practitioners are aged under 40.
- Medical practitioners account for almost half (48%) of all health practitioners aged over 70 years.
- There was a 19% increase in notifications about medical practitioners nationally (or 26% increase when excluding NSW), compared with a 16% increase across all professions.
- There were 5,585 notifications lodged about medical practitioners in the reporting year. Of these, 3812 were outside NSW.
- There is wide variation in mandatory reporting across states and territories, with a 79% increase in Queensland, a 13% decrease in NSW and a 5% decrease in Victoria.
- There were 351 mandatory notifications about medical practitioners nationally. This is an increase of 17% over last year.
- 39% of closed mandatory notifications led to regulatory action, compared to 15% of all closed medical notifications.
- There was a 28% increase in the number medical notifications closed (or a 35% increase excluding NSW).
- The medical boards took ‘immediate action’ 246 times (up 67% from the previous reporting period).
- Of 122 notifications finalised after a panel hearing, 76 (62%) led to disciplinary action.
- Of 43 cases finalised after a tribunal hearing, 36 (84%) led to disciplinary action.
The Board continued its other work including updating Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia, approving university programs of study and specialist medical colleges’ training programs for accreditation purposes, and reviewing and consulting on seven registration standards.
The annual report, the state and territory summaries and the profession-specific report are published on the AHPRA website under Publications.
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Health Profession Agreement
Services and funding for 2014/15
The Board and AHPRA have published the Health Profession Agreement (HPA) that outlines the partnership between the Board and AHPRA, and the services AHPRA will provide to the Board in 2014/15. The HPA also provides information about the Board’s financial operations and fees. In addition to the regular work of the Board, each year the Board also funds a number of projects and initiatives that are detailed in the Board’s 2014/15 work-plan (Schedule 2 of the HPA).
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Consultation on revised supervision guidelines for IMGs
Give us your feedback on guidelines for supervised practice for international medical graduates
The Medical Board is consulting on Guidelines – Supervised practice for international medical graduates (IMGs).
All IMGs who do not have general or specialist registration must be supervised while practising. Formal supervision processes enable the IMG’s performance to be monitored and assessed, in a structured framework. The Board has current supervision guidelines which provide guidance for limited registrants and their supervisors.
The Board has revised the current guidelines to align with the changes to the competent authority pathway and the specialist pathway for IMGs which came into effect on 1 July 2014. The revised guidelines will apply to all IMGs with limited registration or provisional registration.
The revised guidelines propose changes to clarify levels of supervision and make explicit the responsibilities of IMGs and supervisors. The changes aim to increase flexibility, while supporting patient safety. They also take into consideration the different types of supervision structures in hospital-based practice, general practice and office-based practice.
The guidelines do not apply to interns or other medical practitioners who are not IMGs practising under supervision.
The Board welcomes feedback on the draft guidelines, which are available on the consultation page of the Board’s website.
Please provide written submissions by email, marked ‘Consultation – Guidelines – Supervised practice for international medical graduates’ to email@example.com by close of business 30 January 2015.
We will generally publish submissions to consultations. More information about the consultation process is available in the consultation paper.
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New process for international criminal history checks
Protecting the public while improving the registration process
From early 2015, a new process will apply for checking international criminal history. The new approach aims to balance protection of the public while not unnecessarily delaying the registration process.
The new process will affect new applicants who have declared a criminal history outside Australia and/or who have lived in a country or countries other than Australia for six consecutive months or more since the age of 18.
Currently registered practitioners may also be affected. Practitioners will be required to have an international criminal history check at:
- renewal of registration if there has been any change to their criminal history in a country/countries other than Australia since their last declaration to AHPRA, and
- at any time of the year if they have been charged with an offence outside Australia that is punishable by a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment or more, or have been convicted of, pleaded guilty to or are the subject of a finding of guilt by a court for an offence outside Australia that is punishable by imprisonment.
If an international criminal history check is required, applicants and registered practitioners will need to apply for a check from an AHPRA-approved supplier. The supplier will provide the report to the applicant and directly to AHPRA.
More information, including a list of approved suppliers, will be available on the AHPRA website in December. AHPRA is announcing the change now so that applicants are aware of the changes that will come into effect early next year.
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News and alerts
Medical benevolent associations
Medical benevolent associations are independent organisations that provide assistance to medical practitioners in times of need. They are different from doctors’ health services. The benevolent associations offer limited financial assistance and some may also offer counselling support or information about other services and organisations that may be able to help medical practitioners in need.
Medical benevolent associations are funded through donations.
Anyone in need of assistance, or anyone who wishes to make a donation, can contact the relevant association. Contact details for the associations are listed below:
Medical Benevolent Association of NSW
Practitioners in NSW and ACT can contact the association through the social worker, Meredith McVey, on 02 9987 0504 or via the Medical Benevolent Association of NSW website. If you are not sure how to make a referral or if you are worried about a colleague, you are welcome to contact the social worker and talk through your concerns.
Medical Benevolent Association of Queensland
Information is available on the Medical Benevolent Association of Queensland website or call 07 3872 2222.
Medical Benevolent Association of South Australia
For information call 08 8361 0100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Victorian Medical Benevolent Association
For information call 03 9496 4205. There is an office on campus at the Repatriation Hospital, Austin Health, which is staffed Tuesday and Wednesday mornings 9 am – 12 noon.
AMA Benevolent Fund of WA
Contact is through the AMA WA by email: email@example.com.
For medical practitioners practising in New South Wales
The NSW Government’s Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages has announced that a new Medical Certificate Cause of Death (MCCD) will be released on 8 December 2014, to be used by medical practitioners practising in New South Wales.
For further information, go to the NSW Births, Deaths & Marriages website.
Call for applications: medical practitioner member for the ACT Medical Board
The ACT Board is seeking to appoint a medical practitioner practising in the ACT. For further information, go to News>Call for applications on our website.
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Panel, court and tribunal decisions
Panel, court and 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 selected tribunal or court cases from time to time. These can be sourced at Publications>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:
Medical Board of Australia v Henning
The South Australian Health Practitioners Tribunal has found that Dr Frederick Rhys Henning engaged in unsatisfactory professional performance and professional misconduct. Read more in the media release.
Medical Board of Australia and Roberts
The State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia has reprimanded Dr David Evan Roberts, ordered audits of his communication with patients and fined him $15,000 for unprofessional conduct. Read more in the media release.
Medical Board of Australia v Fitzgerald
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded Dr William Joseph Fitzgerald and imposed conditions on his registration as a medical practitioner in Australia. Read more in the media release.
Medical Board of Australia and Van Dijk
The Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal has reprimanded Dr Daniel Van Dijk, removed his name from the register, and banned him from reapplying for registration for nine months. Read more in the media release.
Medical Board of Australia v Moodley
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has ordered the cancellation of Dr Nemalan Seshagiri Moodley’s registration as a medical practitioner, and prohibited him from applying for registration for five years. Read more in the media release.
Medical Board of Australia and Ismail
The State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia has reprimanded Dr Mughammad Saliem Ismail and cancelled his registration as a medical practitioner. Read more in the media release.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the AHPRA customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).
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