An updated Code of conduct will apply to all doctors in Australia from 1 October 2020, after a scheduled review. The changes to Good medical practice include strengthened guidance about discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and vexatious complaints, an expanded section on cultural safety, more on patient safety and clinical governance, and a new section on career transitions for doctors. The consultation on these changes generated a lot of interest in the code, which we’ve updated to make clearer the Board’s intentions.
We’re also keen to hear from all doctors in training through the Medical Training Survey, which is open now. In 2020, we ask more about the culture of medicine and the impact of COVID-19 on training.
Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia
An updated version of Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia will take effect on 1 October 2020.
Changes in the 2020 version aim to provide clearer guidance to doctors and better explanations of expected professional standards. The changes do not significantly change expected professional standards, but some content has been reworded and reordered to improve flow and readability.
Updates in the 2020 version include:
Good medical practice describes what is expected of all doctors registered to practise medicine in Australia. It sets out the principles that characterise good medical practice and makes explicit the standards of ethical and professional conduct expected of doctors by their professional peers and the community.
The 2020 version follows extensive public consultation in 2018 and collective work in 2019 across the National Scheme to consult and develop consensus on a definition of cultural safety.
The public consultation identified a range of issues in the Board’s original proposed draft, including concerns about doctors’ rights to free speech and conscientious objection, discrimination and the meaning of culturally safe practice.
The 2020 version addresses these concerns by revising the following sections to make the Board’s intentions and expectations clearer:
The Board is publishing the 2020 version of Good medical practice before it comes into effect, to give doctors time to familiarise themselves with the new content.
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You can now apply online to renew your medical registration for another year. If you have provided Ahpra with your email address, we have emailed your first reminder to renew.
The 2020/21 registration fee for medical practitioners is $811. 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 is also information about:
Doctors in training who have general registration can do the Medical Training Survey when they renew. Follow the MTS survey link after the workforce survey.
Registration renewal for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is due by 30 September 2020. A late payment fee is due on renewal applications received in October.
By law, all practitioners who apply to renew on time can 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:
When your name appears on the online national register, 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 call us on 1300 419 495.
If you do not apply to renew your registration by the end of the late renewal period your name must be removed from the register of medical practitioners. Your registration will lapse and you will not be able to practise medicine in Australia. A ‘fast-track’ application can be made, but you cannot practise until it is processed and the national register is updated, which can take time.
Your registration details will be updated on the online register of practitioners when your renewal application is finalised. The online register is updated every day and is the safest and most up-to-date way to check a practitioner’s registration details.
Paper registration certificates will no longer be mailed out. If you need a copy of your registration certificate or to access your renewal tax invoice, you can print these from the online portal, once your renewal has been finalised.
Australia's 30,000+ doctors in training in Australia are now having their say about the quality and experience of medical training in Australia.
The 2020 Medical Training Survey (MTS) is now open. This year, doctors in training are calling out the impact of COVID-19 on their training. Updated questions on the culture of medicine will create a clearer picture of bullying and harassment.
The MTS is anonymous, confidential and accessible online. We have prioritised confidentiality and do not publish results when there are fewer than 10 responses.
Longitudinal data from successive surveys will fill gaps caused by privacy and confidentiality protections and enable reporting of results across smaller specialties and jurisdictions.
If you’re a doctor in training, you can do the MTS when you renew your medical registration. Look out for the MTS link at the end of the registration renewal process.
If you’re an intern or an international medical graduate (IMG), look out for your unique MTS survey link in an email from the Medical Board of Australia.
Visit the MTS website to learn how 2019 results are already being used to improve training, create your own reports, check out the 2020 questions and listen to what doctors in training have to say about the MTS.
There’s also a new Ahpra podcast about the MTS: A look into medical training in Australia.
Revised standards to guide how specialist medical colleges assess IMGs will take effect on 1 January 2021.
The updated Standards for specialist medical college assessment of specialist international medical graduates are now published. They will replace the current Good practice guidelines for the specialist international medical graduate assessment process.
The updated standards aim to improve transparency and procedural fairness and make the requirements of the assessment clearer. They do not significantly change the approach to the assessment of specialist IMGs.
The update reflects the recommendations made by Deloitte Access Economics’ external review of the performance of the specialist medical colleges in the assessment of specialist IMGs.
The updated standards are on the Board’s IMG page.
The Board has approved the following:
Medical school program of study
An independent report has found reforms of the regulatory management of allegations of sexual misconduct have had a profound impact.
Ahpra and the Medical Board commissioned a report to assess what had been achieved since the 2017 Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia and identify what more could be done to improve regulators’ handling of sexual misconduct allegations.
Professor Ron Paterson, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Melbourne Law School, conducted the 2017 and 2020 reviews. He found that Ahpra and the Board have fully implemented ‘nearly all’ his recommendations and made significant changes to regulatory practice.
Professor Paterson found the changes made by Ahpra and the Board have been wide and deep, with profound impacts in terms of how notifications of alleged sexual abuse are dealt with by regulators.
While the report notes it is too early to say whether the changes will flow on to have a positive impact on patients and the public, it identified promising signs.
The report notes the huge changes since 2017 to community and media discussion of sexual misconduct arising from the #Metoo movement and as a result of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The report finds that the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme compares favourably with international health practitioner regulators on this issue, and is ‘highly advanced in how it operates in this complex and demanding area’.
Major changes to regulatory practice made by the Board and Ahpra since 2017 to improve the handling of allegations of sexual boundary violations include:
Ahpra and the Board have accepted all Professor Paterson’s recommendations to ensure continuous improvement, including by:
Professor Paterson’s report notes the ongoing use by tribunals of chaperones as a mechanism to protect the public, despite the recommendations of his initial report.
Highlights of Ahpra’s action plan to address Professor Paterson’s 2020 recommendations include:
The report is available on the Ahpra website. The 2017 Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia and more information about Ahpra’s action plan is also available.
Ahpra and the National Boards have published our National Scheme Strategy 2020-25.
The strategy describes the vision, mission, values and strategic themes guiding the work of National Boards and Ahpra.
National Boards, advisory groups and staff have all contributed to the development of the National Scheme Strategy 2020-25:
There are four strategic themes to help articulate our strategy. These are regulatory effectiveness, trust and confidence, evidence and innovation, and capability and culture.
The National Scheme Strategy 2020-25 is available on the Ahpra website.
We have published a new guide explaining how National Boards and Ahpra apply the National Law* in the management of notifications about a practitioner’s performance, conduct or health.
The guide aims to make it easier to understand how and why decisions are made.
The Regulatory guide and an executive summary are available on the Corporate publications page on the Ahpra website.
*Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
The latest episode of the Taking care podcast looks at what it’s like for patients, and the health practitioners who care for them, in this strange, ever-changing pandemic. It hears from a patient diagnosed with brain cancer just before COVID-19 reached Australia, and from three health practitioners with stories of what it’s like caring for patients, their families and themselves during this difficult time. They discuss how the pandemic is constantly changing the way they work and how they see it affecting their patients.
This and other Ahpra podcasts are available on the Ahpra website. Ahpra releases a new episode every fortnight, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.
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. No new cases were published this month.
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 Aphra’s website on the Raise a concern page.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the Ahpra customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).
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