Medical Board of Australia - April 2023
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April 2023

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Medical Board of Australia news

Cosmetic surgery reforms

Patients better protected under new cosmetic surgery reforms

A suite of measures to better protect patients having cosmetic surgery has been published and will take effect from 1 July 2023.

The Medical Board and Ahpra commissioned an Independent review of the regulation of medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery following media reports that revealed serious patient safety concerns including hygiene breaches, poor patient care, unsatisfactory surgical outcomes, and aggressive and inappropriate advertising. This package of reforms delivers on many of the recommendations of the review and includes the following components.

Revised guidelines for medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery and procedures

The reforms apply to doctors practising in two areas:

  • cosmetic surgery (involves cutting beneath the skin – including breast augmentation, facelifts and liposuction), and
  • non-surgical cosmetic procedures (which may pierce the skin but don’t cut beneath it, such as injectables, thread lifts and laser treatments).

Under the reforms, patients seeking cosmetic surgery will need a referral from their GP.

This new measure adds a layer of protection for patients, who will in future be able to discuss their motivation for cosmetic surgery with their GP, who has the best knowledge of their medical history and can share this with the doctor being referred to.

The Board does not expect GPs to have a detailed knowledge of cosmetic procedures or to seek the patient’s informed consent for cosmetic procedures they are not personally providing.

Other changes in the revised and strengthened Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery and procedures include:

  • higher standards for cosmetic surgery premises, with accreditation against Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) standards, required for cosmetic surgery premises from 1 July 2023
  • improved patient assessment by practitioners before surgery, including more scrutiny for signs of body dysmorphic disorder.

New advertising guidelines specific to cosmetic surgery

The new guidelines, with a strong focus on online and social media advertising, are in addition to the existing code of conduct and advertising guidelines and address the unique features of cosmetic surgery. They provide greater clarity about what is not acceptable.

Advertising must not:

  • be false, misleading or deceptive
  • offer discounts without terms and conditions
  • use testimonials
  • create unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, or
  • encourage indiscriminate use.

Additionally, from 1 July 2023:

  • medical practitioners must include clear information about their registration type and their registration number
  • clear information about risks and recovery must be easily found
  • videos and images must be used responsibly and not for entertainment
  • videos and images must not be sexualised or include gratuitous nudity
  • the use of negative body language is banned
  • cosmetic surgery advertising must be identified as adult content.

Endorsement of registration for cosmetic surgery

Health ministers have approved a new registration standard for cosmetic surgery endorsement to help patients know who is trained and qualified to perform cosmetic surgery safely.

The endorsement will make it clear on the public register if a doctor has met cosmetic surgery standards set by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Board.

The same rigorous process that accredits the training programs of specialist medical colleges (like the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons), is setting the standards of training (accreditation standards) required for cosmetic surgery endorsement.

The cosmetic surgery accreditation standards are expected to be published shortly and will set the bar that determines which qualifications will be recognised for endorsement.

Cosmetic surgery training providers will apply for accreditation of their training program. If their program meets the accreditation standards, their graduates will be eligible for endorsement.

Read more in the media release.

Advance copies of the registration standard and new guidelines are on the Medical Board website. There are also FAQs and Reforms at a glance - What do I need to do?.

Further information about the cosmetic surgery reforms is on our Cosmetic surgery hub.

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Educational resources

Resources on regulation and professionalism for medical students

New education resources on regulation and professionalism for medical students in Australia are now available.

The Medical Board has released the first two of a four-part series on regulation and professionalism, aimed at deepening students’ knowledge before they join the profession.

These educational resources aim to dispel myths and misconceptions about regulation and help medical students understand the regulation of medical practitioners in Australia. The modules highlight the importance of professionalism and good communication in practice, because this theme runs through the majority of patient complaints (notifications) about doctors.

The resources are:

  • Module 1: Protecting the public – the purpose of medical regulation
  • Module 2: Replacing fear with facts – understanding notifications
  • Module 3: Listening – what matters to patients (in development)
  • Module 4: Navigating professional challenges (in development).

The modules are an optional resource for medical schools in Australia and align with the medical school Professionalism and Leadership curriculum. Aimed at final-year medical students, they are suitable for any year level. They have been designed for independent self-paced learning and there is no inbuilt assessment.

The content includes registration and notification statistics, case studies, stories and commentary from doctors and members of the public, information about how notifications are handled, and the different organisations involved in regulation.

The first two modules are available on the Medical Board website and the rest will be progressively released from mid-2023.

While they are primarily aimed at medical students, medical practitioners might find them of interest too.

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Updating our stakeholders

Medical Board, Ahpra, AMA annual workshop

Leaders of the Medical Board, Ahpra and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) met in late December 2022 for their annual workshop. Discussions focused on complaints management by the Medical Board and Ahpra and covered other shared interests including legislative updates affecting regulation, cosmetic surgery reforms and supervision requirements. You can read more in the communiqué on our News page.

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Medical Board vacancy

Are you interested in joining the Northern Territory Medical Board?

Applications are sought to fill vacancies for registered medical practitioners and community members on the Northern Territory Board of the Medical Board of Australia.

Applications open Saturday 8 April 2023 and close on Sunday 21 May 2023.

More information will be on Ahpra's Statutory appointments vacancies page from 8 April 2023.

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Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Specialist medical college program of study

Provider Program Approved Expiry
Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Fellowship of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and Fellowship of the Faculty of Pain Medicine ANZCA 22 February 2023 31 March 2029

Medical school program of study

Provider Program Approved Expiry
University of Adelaide Bachelor of Medical Studies and Doctor of Medicine (BMD) (six-year)

Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) (six-year)
22 February 2023 31 March 2025
University of Wollongong Doctor of Medicine (MD) program (four-year) 22 February 2023 31 March 2025
Macquarie University Doctor of Medicine (MD) program (four-year) 22 February 2023 31 March 2025

Intern training accreditation authority

Authority Approved Expiry
Canberra Region Medical Education Council (CRMEC) 22 February 2023 31 March 2025
Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) 22 February 2023 31 March 2026

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Should genetic pathology be recognised as a new field of specialty practice?

Do you have any thoughts about recognising genetic pathology as a new field of specialty practice within pathology?

Consultation is open until 26 April 2023 on a request from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia to expand the list of recognised specialities.

The currently approved list of specialties, fields of specialty practice and related specialist titles in medicine is published on our website.

The Board’s recommendation to health ministers will be informed by consultation feedback and advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board’s accreditation authority.

You can access the consultation paper on the Board’s Current consultations page.

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News and alerts

Sexual misconduct – health ministers back Ahpra reform blueprint

Australia’s health ministers have backed Ahpra’s blueprint to better protect patients from sexual misconduct in healthcare. Ahpra reforms include commitments to publishing more information on the public register when a practitioner has a proven history of sexual misconduct, greater community input into decision making and a review of the criminal history standard and the way it is applied to practitioners who have been convicted of sexual offences.

The bar for patient safety must be high, and we are reassured that Australia’s health ministers have swiftly supported the strong measures we proposed to achieve this.

All patients have the right to be treated only by practitioners who are fit and safe to practise, so health regulators must be better equipped to act when those rights are abused.

Regulatory decisions need to reflect community expectations and one way of making sure of this is to give the community more say in deciding misconduct allegations raised about doctors. This will be done by appointing an equal number of community and practitioner members on decision-making committees.

Health ministers will begin a rapid review of previous reviews of Ahpra, with a focus on the management of sexual misconduct matters, and will report back to all health ministers.

Ahpra and the National Boards have been subject to a range of inquiries over the years and regulators also triggered an independent examination of the use of chaperones to protect patients. As a result of that review, chaperones are no longer used by the Board.

Ahpra and the National Boards have acted on the recommendations of other reviews, but some recommendations have required action by governments. Understanding which recommendations have been implemented, whether any have not been fully adopted, and identifying any gaps that are putting patients at risk is a vital process that is now underway.

For more information see the Health Ministers’ Meeting – Communiqué (24 February 2023).

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Medical regulation at work

Latest tribunal decisions published

There are important lessons in tribunal decisions about registered medical practitioners. The Medical Board of Australia refers the most serious concerns about medical practitioners to tribunals in each state and territory. Recently published decisions include:

  • a Victorian medical administrator has had her registration cancelled and been banned from applying for re-registration for 10 years for failing to ensure the safe delivery of clinical services (Medical Board of Australia v Gruner).
  • a Victorian medical practitioner has been reprimanded and disqualified for 10 years for professional misconduct including inappropriate prescribing, an inappropriate relationship, and falsifying documents (Medical Board of Australia v Salter).

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 Law, 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 not to 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 Concerned about a practitioner? page.

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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 AO, 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.

Comments on the Board newsletter are welcome, send your feedback and suggestions to [email protected].

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 23/04/2024