Medical Board of Australia - 26,000 practitioners on the pandemic sub-register able to better support the COVID-19 response
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26,000 practitioners on the pandemic sub-register able to better support the COVID-19 response

08 Sep 2021

More than 26,000 registered health practitioners can step up to further support the COVID-19 health system response following changes made by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards to the temporary pandemic response sub-register.

Key points:

  • The registration of practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register has been broadened.
  • Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the temporary sub-register can now practise in any area that supports the COVID-19 response.
  • This means more than 26,000 practitioners are potentially available to further support the health system response across Australia.


Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said the COVID-19 situation has changed significantly since the temporary pandemic response sub-register (the sub-register) was extended in April 2021 for five professions.

‘We are responding to requests from governments for more registered health practitioners while also ensuring that patient safety remains an important focus,’ he said.

‘We have expanded their temporary registration to allow for ‘practice for the COVID-19 response’, rather than being limited to the ‘COVID-19 vaccination rollout’ as has been the case to date.’

As well as continuing to support the ramped-up vaccination rollout, practitioners on the temporary sub-register can now also help with clinical and non-clinical roles directly related to the COVID-19 response, employment and practice as part of a surge workforce or temporary backfill positions due to outbreak management or furloughing of other health workers.

We are also reviewing other ways we can support Australia’s healthcare system in managing the effects of COVID-19, which may include adding an additional group of eligible practitioners from a range of professions to the sub-register to provide further surge health workforce.

‘Health practitioners in many parts of Australia are doing exceptional work in very challenging times. Practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register are needed now more than at any other time,’ Mr Fletcher said.


There are currently 26,493 medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register who can now do more to support the COVID-19 response, but only if they choose to help and are fit and suitable to do so.

This is reflected on the national register of practitioners with the notation on the practitioners’ registration changed today to: ‘Registered on pandemic response sub-register. Limited to practice for the COVID-19 response.’ We are contacting all practitioners on the sub-register today, notifying them of the change.

These practitioners don’t need to do anything to stay on the sub-register, but there is an expectation that they are available to practise if contacted about employment opportunities. There is no obligation to practise or remain on the sub-register and those who want their name removed need to opt out.

When offering employment, health departments and employers also have an important role in carrying out probity checks and in providing any training or supervision of practitioners that may be needed.

More information

About us

Ahpra works in partnership with 15 National Boards to regulate Australia’s more than 800,000 registered health practitioners. Together, our primary role is to protect the public and set the standards and policies that all registered health practitioners must meet. When practitioners meet those standards, they can register once, renew yearly, and practise anywhere in Australia as long as they keep meeting their obligations. We publish a register listing all registered health practitioners and the details of their registration, including any restrictions we’ve placed on their registration. If you, or anyone you know, has concerns about the health, conduct or performance of a registered practitioner, or think someone might be falsely claiming to be a registered practitioner, let us know. 


Contact us

  • For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200.


Page reviewed 8/09/2021