There are important lessons for registered medical practitioners from tribunal decisions. The Medical Board of Australia (the Board) refers the most serious concerns about medical practitioners to tribunals in each state and territory. Cases published recently have included:
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), on behalf of the 14 National Boards, publishes a record of panel, court and tribunal decisions about registered health practitioners.
When investigating a notification, the Medical 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 requirements of the National Law.
Summaries of tribunal or court cases are published at Court and tribunal decisions on the AHPRA website. The Board and AHPRA sometimes choose to not publish summaries, for example about cases involving practitioners with impairment.
In NSW and Queensland, different arrangements are in place. More information is available on AHPRA’s website on the Make a complaint page.
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory
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We have changed the way we handle allegations of sexual misconduct and have implemented all of the recommendations made in the Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia, with a small number requiring continued focus before they are fully complete.
In a status report on our progress, the Board and AHPRA confirmed that:
In August 2016, the Board and AHPRA commissioned a review to consider whether, and if so in what circumstances, it is appropriate to impose a chaperone condition on the registration of a health practitioner to protect patients while allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated.
The independent report by Professor Ron Paterson, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Melbourne Law School, found the use of chaperones does not meet community expectations and does not always keep patients safe.
The final report was published on 11 April 2017 and the Board and AHPRA accepted all 28 recommendations. The report sets out to regulators, courts and legislators what action should be taken to strengthen public protection and keep the system fair to medical practitioners.
The Progress report - Implementing the recommendations of the Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia is available on the Board’s website.
You can now apply online to renew your medical registration for another year. If you have provided AHPRA with your email address, you will have received your first reminder to renew.
The registration fee for medical practitioners for 2017/18 is $742. The fee schedule is available on the fees page.
A video and tips for renewing online are available for medical practitioners on the registration renewal page.
There have been changes to recency of practice requirements for registration since last year that mainly affect practitioners who are practising infrequently, or who have had a recent absence from practice, or who are taking a temporary break from practice.
You can read more below about renewal due dates and what you need to do to meet the new requirements.
Registration renewal for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is due by 30 September 2017. Renewal applications received during October will incur a late payment fee.
By law, all practitioners who apply to renew on time are able to practise while their annual renewal application is being processed. If you apply to renew on time or during the late renewal period, you can still practise medicine even if:
If your name appears on the national register, this confirms that you are registered even if the registration expiry date displayed has passed.
We understand that this can be confusing. If an employer or a member of the public wants to confirm that you are registered, they can also telephone us on 1300 419 495.
A practitioner who does not apply to renew their registration by the end of the late renewal period 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 it is processed and the national register is updated, which can take time.
New requirements: Recency of practice and Continuing professional development
New recency of practice and continuing professional development (CPD) requirements took effect on 1 October 2016. When applying to renew this year, you must make a declaration about your compliance with these requirements.
Recency of practice
The Recency of practice registration standard has changed. Medical practitioners need to practise a minimum number of hours to meet the standard. The registration standard also sets out requirements for returning to practice after an absence and for changing scope of practice.
To meet the standard, medical practitioners must practise within their scope of practice, at any time, for a minimum total of:
Full-time equivalent is 38 hours per week. The maximum number of hours that can be counted per week is 38 hours. Medical practitioners who work part-time must complete the same minimum number of hours of practice – this can be completed part-time.
Most practitioners who are currently practising (clinical or non-clinical practice) will meet the revised standard.
If you do not meet the minimum hours of practice required in the new standard, you are not necessarily prevented from returning to practice as a medical practitioner. The standard sets out the requirements for medical practitioners who don’t meet the standard, including those with non-practising registration and medical practitioners who are not registered and wish to return to practice.
Read more in these recency of practice FAQ.
Continuing professional development
The revised CPD registration standard has not changed significantly. All registered medical practitioners must continue to participate in regular CPD activities.
Medical practitioners with specialist registration must continue to meet the CPD requirements set by their specialist college. Medical practitioners with general registration (who do not have specialist registration) must continue to complete a minimum of 50 hours CPD per year.
A review is now underway of the performance of specialist medical colleges in assessing specialist international medical graduates (IMGs) in Australia.
Deloitte Access Economics is conducting the review for the Board and wants to hear from specialist IMGs who have been assessed by a college since 2014 and from their employers.
You can make a confidential (anonymous or identified) submission to Deloitte. The Board will receive only aggregated findings with no data identifying individuals.
Deloitte has already invited a random selection of specialist IMGs and employers to participate in the review but anyone can share their views.
The Board encourages you to tell Deloitte about your experience because that is the best way for improvements to be made.
Send your written submission to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find more information in the consultation paper available from Deloitte.
Submissions close 1 September 2017.
About the review
The review will examine each college’s current performance against benchmarks for the specialist pathway the Board has set. It will review the extent to which college processes align with the Board’s Good practice guidelines for the specialist international medical graduate assessment process (available on the Specialist pathway page on the Board’s website). These guidelines define good practice in the assessment of specialist IMGs, including in relation to:
The review will also consider whether elements of the current specialist IMG assessment process can be improved, evaluate current performance benchmarks and recommend methods for future monitoring of colleges’ performance.
One of the objectives of the National Law is to facilitate the provision of high quality education and training of health practitioners. The accreditation function is the primary way of achieving this. More information about the Board’s accreditation function is available on our Accreditation page.
After receiving accreditation advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the new accredited Macquarie University program, the four-year Masters Degree (Extended) leading to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) as providing a qualification for the purposes of general registration to 31 March 2023.
The August meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council discussed a range of national issues, including proposed amendments to the National Law.
Ministers propose changes to mandatory reporting provisions
Australia’s health ministers are recommending a nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting by treating health practitioners, and will consult with the profession and the community.
There are currently three variations in the mandatory reporting requirements for treating practitioners across Australia.
Ministers agreed practitioners should be able to confidentially and without fear, seek help and treatment for their health concerns, including for their mental health and well-being, while keeping patients safe. The November 2017 meeting of the COAG Health Council is expected to consider a proposal on mandatory reporting.
Other amendments to the National Law
Health ministers agreed to proceed with amendments to the National Law that will strengthen penalties, including a custodial sentence, for offences committed by people who hold themselves out (claim) to be a registered health practitioner, including those who use protected titles or carry out restricted practices when not registered. A draft amendment bill is expected to be introduced to the Queensland Parliament in 2018.
The communiqué from the August COAG meeting can be accessed on AHPRA’s website.
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).