Until 2010, state and territory medical boards were independent entities acting under their own legislation. In 2014, local boards continue to make all decisions about individual medical practitioners who apply for registration or about whom notifications are made. However, now they operate under delegation from the Medical Board of Australia (the National Board). All state and territory boards work within the same national law1, even though there are different processes for dealing with health complaints in NSW and now in Qld.
Like the National Board, local boards have both practitioner and community members with a minimum of one third community members. The members are appointed by the local health minister after public advertisement. There are registration committees in each jurisdiction and notifications committees in all except NSW, all made up of state and territory board members.
Now that the National Scheme2 is well established, state and territory boards have begun to refocus on engaging with local professional and community organisations, and seeking feedback. More information about who is on your local board can be found on our website under the About tab. Look out for opportunities to get involved in consultations about important regulation or policy issues through these Updates or by visiting our website.
Dr Joanna Flynn AM
Chair, Medical Board of Australia
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
2The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
The registration renewal campaign for medical practitioners is now underway and AHPRA has sent email reminders to medical practitioners who have provided an email address to the Board. During September, paper reminders will be posted to medical practitioners who have not renewed.
The registration renewal date for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is 30 September 2014. Renewal applications received during October will incur a late payment fee.
Under the National Law, practitioners who do not renew their registration within one month of their registration expiry date must be removed from the register of medical practitioners. Their registration will lapse and they will not be able to practise medicine in Australia. A fast track application can be made, but the practitioner cannot practise until the application is processed and the national register is updated. This can take time.
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From time to time, employers ask the Board for advice about a practitioner’s suitability for a position, based on their registration type or specialty.
The National Law that created the National Scheme also sets the Board’s powers. This law regulates titles, but in general does not restrict scope of practice.
A practitioner cannot use a protected title unless they hold the corresponding type of registration. For example, a medical practitioner cannot call themselves a specialist surgeon or physician unless they hold specialist registration as a surgeon or physician. There are many protected titles in medicine, including ‘medical practitioner’, and all the titles in the list of specialties, fields of specialty practice and related specialist titles listed under Registration standards on the Board’s website. This list has been approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council and can only be amended by the Ministerial Council.
The National Law does not define what practice different types of health practitioners can and cannot do, with three exceptions – spinal manipulation, certain dental acts and prescribing of optical appliances. These three practices are protected and are restricted to specified registered health practitioners.
The Medical Board does not define the scope of practice of medical practitioners with unconditional general registration. However, the Board does expect that registered medical practitioners will exercise their professional judgement and work within their level of competence to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide appropriate and safe care. If they do not, the Board will hold practitioners to account against approved registration standards, codes and guidelines in disciplinary processes. Medical practitioners’ obligations and responsibilities are set in the Board’s code of conduct, Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia.
When employing a practitioner, health services and hospitals have established systems to credential and define that practitioner’s scope of practice for the specific organisational environment. Employers determine whether the practitioner has the necessary competence, training and experience for the proposed scope of practice. The practitioner’s qualifications, registration type and any conditions on their registration should be considered as part of this process. Employers should routinely look at the online register of medical practitioners which publishes much of this information. Credentialing policies require the employer to also consider the organisational capability and the range of clinical services that can be safely provided in that facility.
In states and territories, there are clinical services frameworks, licensing requirements for private health services and other regulations that set standards for health facilities, including staffing requirements.
The Board and AHPRA publish accurate and up-to-date information about the registration status of every registered medical practitioner on the online register. This supports employers to credential individual medical practitioners. The Board is not able to provide advice about the scope of practice of individual practitioners with unconditional general registration.
Medical practitioners can now request a Certificate of Registration Status (CoRS) using the online AHPRA portal. In the past, this was a manual process involving a form which was either posted or hand-delivered to an AHPRA office. Practitioners can now:
There is a fee of $50 for each CoRS.
When practitioners are seeking registration or employment that requires them to be registered outside Australia, the regulatory authority in that jurisdiction may require a Certificate of Registration Status (CoRS). This document is also referred to as a Certificate of Good Standing or Certificate of Current Professional Status by some regulators.
The certificate provided by AHPRA:
AHPRA offers a service to practitioners to provide a CoRS to regulatory authorities in other countries and some other approved organisations, including a number of specialist colleges. Approved organisations can be found on AHPRA’s website under Practitioner services.
The certificate is never provided to the requesting practitioner or to an employer and can only be sent to an AHPRA-approved regulatory body or organisation.
These changes are part of our ongoing work with AHPRA to improve and streamline services for registered medical practitioners.
Under the National Scheme, AHPRA and the National Boards collect comprehensive data about registered health practitioners, consistent with privacy laws.
These data have registration and, potentially, workforce-planning, demographic, commercial and research value. The National Law and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) impose strict limits on how we use these data.
We have developed a data access and research policy to maximise the benefits that data access can bring, while managing risks to the privacy of practitioners whose information we have collected and hold for the purposes of the National Law and other statutory obligations.
The data access and research policy is a comprehensive guide for individuals, agencies, institutions and researchers on the type of requests we may consider. The policy was finalised after incorporating feedback from public consultation.
The policy can be downloaded from the Data access and research page on AHPRA’s website.
Before you request access to the data we hold on registered health practitioners, please complete the initial self-assessment checklist which will clarify whether your request falls within the scope of the policy. Depending on this answer, you may need to complete a more detailed application form.
The National Boards also regularly publish statistics that profile each profession’s workforce. These updates are publicly available so it is not necessary to apply to source this information. The data about medical practitioners are published on the Statistics page on the Board’s website and include breakdowns of medical practitioners by:
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the AHPRA customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).