April 2019

Update Medical Board of Australia

Chair's message

The Board develops guidance for doctors to promote public safety and make its expectations clear. We often do this in response to ‘hot spots’ in notifications – areas in which notifications (complaints) have been increasing.

We are consulting now on the latest of these proposed guidelines, which have the rather cumbersome title ‘Guidelines for registered medical practitioners - complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments’. We welcome suggestions about streamlining the title, without losing important aspects of the scope of the guidelines.

Patients trust their doctors, who must be worthy of that trust. Registered doctors who want to use complementary and unconventional treatments need to do so in a way that is trustworthy. They should avoid unsafe treatments and provide enough information to allow patients to make properly informed decisions about their care. The Board has no intention to restrict doctors from using safe and effective treatments and no intention to shut down any areas of safe and effective practice. We are concerned that some members of the public may have become unduly anxious or distressed as a result of misunderstandings about the intent and effect of the proposed guidelines.

The Board’s draft guidelines are now open for comment and suggestion, and we would like to know your views. You can find them, and make a submission, at current consultations.

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Medical Board of Australia news

Cosmetic medical and surgical procedures

Additional guidance on financing schemes

The Board has expanded its guidance about financing schemes for doctors who provide cosmetic and surgical procedures, to make its expectations clearer.

We developed the new information to answer doctors’ questions about the Board’s expectations, given the increasing range of finance options available to consumers. It clarifies the 2016 Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical and surgical procedures, which aim to improve safeguards for consumers.

The additional guidance doesn’t restrict patient access to finance or restrict medical practitioners from providing information to their patients about payment options. Under the guidelines, medical practitioners can provide information on their website about funding options and accepted payment methods but should not promote one form of payment over another or use payment options to encourage patients to access cosmetic procedures.

The Information sheet is available on the Board’s fact sheets webpage.

There are also FAQ.

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Intern survey

Do interns feel prepared for their internships?

Do interns feel ready for practice when they graduate from medical school? What can we all do better to smooth the transition from university to internship for young doctors?

The Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Board have again partnered to conduct a survey of all interns in Australia, to find out how well they think their medical training prepared them for their internship.

This is the third year we have run the survey. The results of the 2018 survey have recently been published on the Board’s website and were consistent with 2017 results.

The survey is online, voluntary and anonymous. De-identified and aggregated data will be shared with medical schools and standards organisations, to shape future training improvements. The data will also be published on the AMC and Medical Board websites.

AHPRA, on behalf of the Board, is sending the survey link to all 2019 interns and the AMC will analyse the responses. Interns will receive an email from the Board on Thursday 16 May 2019 with information and a link to the survey.

If you are an intern:

  1. You will receive an email with the survey link.
  2. Please take 10 minutes to do the survey!
  3. Tell us how well prepared you felt for your internship when you graduated from medical school and what we can all do better to make you feel ready for practice.
  4. Encourage other interns to do the survey!

If you work with interns, please encourage them to do the survey, which will close on Friday 31 May 2019. For more information read the news item on the Board's website.

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Accreditation

Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Specialist college program of study

Provider  Program  Approved  Expiry

The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators

Fellowship of The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators 27 March 2019 31 March 2025

Medical school program of study

Provider  Program  Approved  Expiry
University of Western Australia Doctor of Medicine (MD)
Four-year program
27 March 2019 30 June 2020
University of Otago Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB)
Four-year program
27 March 2019 31 March 2025

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Consultation

Tell us what you think about our draft guidelines on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments

Our consultation on options to more clearly regulate medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments has triggered energetic debate. People often hold very strong views – and have opposing ideas – about this issue and we’re really pleased so many people are engaging in this discussion. We’re keen to give everyone a chance to have their say and have extended the consultation to 30 June.

We are consulting on options to best protect patients and minimise the risk of harm to them, without stifling innovation, making a judgement about specific clinical practices or limiting patients’ right to choose their healthcare. We have asked for feedback on the terms and definitions we have suggested and are interested in the perspectives of all our stakeholders.

We want to make sure patients have the information they need to make informed decisions about their care.

The draft guidelines address the most common issues raised in complaints, reported adverse events and tribunal decisions. Common concerns include not enough information being given to patients, inappropriate tests being ordered, inappropriate prescribing, inappropriate treatments being provided to vulnerable consumers and inadequate disclosure when doctors stand to make a profit from the products they prescribe.

The consultation paper, including a discussion paper and draft guidelines, is published on the Board’s website or read more in this news item. We are keen to hear from you.

Please email written submissions to medboardconsultation@ahpra.gov.au, marked: ‘Consultation on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments’.

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Consultation

Have your say: How should we define ‘cultural safety’?

AHPRA, the National Boards and Accreditation Authorities in the National Scheme have partnered with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF) to release a public consultation on a proposed definition of ‘cultural safety’.

Your feedback will help develop an agreed, national baseline definition that can be used as a foundation for embedding cultural safety across the National Scheme and by the National Health Leadership Forum.

There are 44 organisations represented in this consultation, which is being coordinated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group (the Strategy Group) convened by AHPRA, and the NHLF.

The consultation continues the work of the Strategy Group, which aims to achieve health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Members of the Group include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and members from AHPRA, National Boards, Accreditation Authorities and NSW Councils.

The six-week consultation is open to 15 May. Share your views and help define this important term for the National Scheme.

For more information read the media release on the AHPRA website.

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Medical regulation at work

Latest tribunal decisions have been published online

There are important lessons for registered medical practitioners from tribunal decisions. The Medical Board of Australia refers the most serious concerns about medical practitioners to tribunals in each state and territory. This case was published recently:

  • the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia has reprimanded and suspended a general practitioner and imposed conditions on her registration for improper prescribing of peptides (Medical Board of Australia and Pearce).

Publication of panel, court and tribunal decisions

AHPRA, on behalf of the 15 National Boards, publishes a record of panel, court and tribunal decisions about registered health practitioners.

When investigating a notification, the Board may refer a medical practitioner to a health panel hearing, or a performance and professional standards panel hearing. Under the National Law1, panel hearings are not open to the public. AHPRA publishes a record of panel hearing decisions made since July 2010. Practitioners’ names are not published, consistent with the National Law.

Summaries of tribunal and court cases are published on the Court and tribunal decisions page of the AHPRA website. The Board and AHPRA sometimes choose to not publish summaries, for example about cases involving practitioners with impairment.

In New South Wales and Queensland, different arrangements are in place. More information is available on AHPRA’s website on the Make a complaint page.


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

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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 Anne Tonkin, 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 21/05/2019