Medical Board of Australia - August 2023
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August 2023

News for medical practitioners

In this month's issue:


Chair's message

The Board is fostering changes in the culture of medicine to improve the lives and wellbeing of doctors and benefit our patients. Results of our annual Medical Training Survey – on again this month – are strengthening the evidence base already being used to improve medical training. New accreditation standards for medical schools, released in July, will ensure future medical education in Australia is more responsive to the needs of our communities and focuses more actively on cultural safety. The National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020–2025 is guiding our work. Using different levers, agencies across the health sector are resetting expectations and prioritising action. Our colleagues, patients and future doctors deserve no less.

Dr Anne Tonkin AO
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

Medical Board of Australia news

Registration renewal opens mid-August

It’s that time of year. Registration renewal opens soon for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration.

The fee for 2023/24 is $995, and $930 in NSW. More information is on the Fees page

You can find general renewal information on the Ahpra renewal page and FAQs for medical practitioners on the Medical Board website.

Look out for your renewal email from Ahpra, with details and links.

Apply early to avoid delays at our busiest time, especially if you are making a declaration. Renewal is online – you can pay by credit card or debit card.

Registration fees fund the work of Ahpra and the National Boards to keep the public safe. Each Board in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme is responsible for meeting the full cost of regulating its profession, as there are no government or other subsidies to support this vital role.

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Medical Training Survey opens soon

The Medical Training Survey (MTS) opens next week, giving trainees a platform to share their experience of medical training.

MTS data from past years is already being used across the health sector to drive improvements in medical training.

Most MTS questions are consistent year on year, because comparisons are important. We streamline the format and layout each year to make the MTS quicker and easier to do.

After three years, we are retiring questions about the pandemic and asking more about flexible working and training arrangements. Evidence links flexible work and training with a boost to equal opportunity, increase in workforce diversity and high-quality patient care and medical training. Given the serious challenges MTS results have exposed in the culture of medicine, we’re keen to generate data that can be used in future to support positive cultural change.

The MTS is a longitudinal study that tracks the quality of medical training. Stringent privacy controls make it safe and confidential for trainees to take part. The MTS is run by the Medical Board of Australia, but the Board has no access to individual responses.

MTS results are collated, published online and accessible. Case studies showing how MTS results are being used to improve training are published on the MTS website. Past results are detailed in reports by specialty and geography, or reports can be tailor-made with the online data-dashboard.

Across four years, MTS results have shown that while medical training in Australia is generally in good shape, there are serious cultural problems in medicine, including bullying, harassment, racism, and discrimination. As a result, agencies across the sector, including the Medical Board, are prioritising actions to support cultural change.

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New rules for cosmetic surgery advertising now in effect

Cosmetic surgery reforms are having an impact, with some doctors lifting standards and others making creative attempts to evade new rules.

New cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines and updated cosmetic practice guidelines took effect on 1 July 2023.

The impact of cosmetic reforms is being exposed by Ahpra’s advertising audit, which shows both improvements and an ongoing need for some practitioners to lift their game.

Audit results so far reveal:

  • more accurate description of doctors’ qualifications in advertising, with most cosmetic doctors now including their Ahpra registration details – type of registration and specialty – to help guide patient choices
  • most doctors have stopped re-posting patient social media posts, and many have turned off comments on their Facebook or Instagram accounts so patients can’t leave testimonials on their advertising (testimonials are not permitted under the National Law)
  • most doctors are classifying the cosmetic surgery content on their social media as adult material (so it doesn’t appear in the ‘feeds’ of people under 18), in line with new requirements
  • most doctors have now stopped using photos of models on their websites, which in the past misled patients and created unrealistic expectations
  • many doctors still need to lift their advertising game and provide more information about surgical risks and recovery
  • many practitioners still need to remove or update social media posts made before 1 July, which also need to comply with the new rules.

Doctors advertising a ‘mummy makeover’ should expect scrutiny. The guidelines explicitly rule out using this term. Other colloquial terms like ‘tummy tuck’ can be used, but the advertising must also include the clinical term.

Attempts to evade the new rules that we have seen include:

  • encouraging patients to tag the doctor in the patient’s posts (so the post appears in the doctor’s social media account)
  • using Linkin.bio and Linktr.ee in social media accounts to link patients to content that is not permitted (separate from the doctor’s main website).

The guidelines apply to all cosmetic surgery advertising including social media and any landing pages.

Ahpra’s audit team is examining cosmetic surgery advertising compliance and the Board will take action against practitioners who are ignoring the new guidelines. Cosmetic surgery reforms are designed to lift standards across the industry and protect patients.

To help practitioners comply, we have published a Visual guide to cosmetic surgery advertising with examples of appropriate advertising and advertising not permitted. The guide is available on the Medical Board’s FAQs page.

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Revised medical school accreditation standards published

Revised accreditation standards for medical schools articulate a new benchmark for high quality medical education that is responsive to the needs of communities across Australia and New Zealand.

The revised standards come into effect from 1 January 2024.

The Board approved the revised standards, which were developed by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) in collaboration with medical educators and medical schools, leaders in Indigenous medical education, Indigenous doctors and the community.

The updated standards foster medical education that prioritises patient-centred care and ensure future doctors understand their patients’ context, including any systemic barriers to care they may face. The revised standards include a strong focus on cultural safety across medical education and nudge it to embrace technology in healthcare, understanding its opportunities, challenges and ethical considerations.

The standards are built on the principles of self-determination and respect for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and Māori Peoples and recognise that medical education must be informed and led by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and Māori knowledge and practice to meet the needs of these communities.

For more information read:


Are you interested in joining the Victorian Medical Board?

Apply now! There are vacancies for registered medical practitioners and community members on the Victorian Board of the Medical Board of Australia.

Applications close Sunday 27 August 2023.

More information is on Ahpra’s Statutory appointments page.


Latest registration data published

The Board publishes data each quarter on the medical profession. Data are broken down by state and territory, registration type and for specialists, by specialty and field of specialty practice. Visit our Statistics page to view the latest report.


Consultation

Criminal history and registration – when can they mix?

When is criminal history incompatible with medical practice? What risks are acceptable – and manageable – when it comes to public safety?

From traffic offences at one end, to murder and serious sexual assault at the other, there is a spectrum of seriousness when it comes to criminal offences.

The Board decides case by case whether to grant someone registration as a doctor or allow them to return to practice, based on their criminal history and other relevant matters.

We’re keen to know what the professions and the community expect when an applicant or practitioner has a criminal history. 

We are reviewing the criminal history registration standard to make sure it is up to date and relevant. This work is part of our blueprint for reform to strengthen public safety in health regulation, which has a focus on sexual misconduct in healthcare.

Tell us what you think about the current version of the criminal history standard and other work to improve public safety in health regulation.

Your feedback will shape our thinking. There’ll be another opportunity to comment when we consult on changes to the registration standard down the track.

There is more information in the news item on the Medical Board website. The consultation paper is available on the Board’s Consultations page.

The consultation closes on 14 September 2023.


News and alerts

AMA promotes doctor wellbeing in new project

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging doctors to have a regular GP. Its new ‘I have a GP’ project includes videos featuring doctors at different career stages talking about why all doctors should have their own GP.

Videos are posted daily this month on the AMA’s LinkedIn and Instagram platforms, and doctors are encouraged to reshare the posts with their own experiences using the hashtag #ihaveagp.

The videos address why having a GP is important for doctors. Topics include how doctors can find a GP who will look after them, what doctors can expect when they visit a GP, and advice on mandatory reporting to allay any fears doctors may have about seeking support for mental health issues.

There is more information on the AMA website.


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 practitioner has been reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration for 12 months for professional misconduct involving scheduled medicines (Medical Board of Australia v Conejera).

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 health practitioner? page.

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 newsletters@ahpra.gov.au.

For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the Ahpra customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).

 
 
Page reviewed 8/01/2024