July 2020

Update Medical Board of Australia


Chair’s message 

Medical practitioners in Victoria are once again among those at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write, there is continued uncertainty facing doctors across Australia about what lies ahead. In Victoria at least, a second chapter of lockdown, on top of related clinical demands, will demand a lot of healthcare teams. I encourage all doctors to take care of their health and wellbeing, and to seek support if this would be helpful. The services and resources of Drs4Drs are there for you. 

Also in August, the Medical Training Survey will open. I encourage all doctors in training to take part and help shape the future of medical training in Australia.

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

Medical Board of Australia news

Medical Training Survey 

The 2020 Medical Training Survey will open soon

The 2020 Medical Training Survey (MTS) opens on 3 August, giving Australia's 30,000+ doctors in training a voice about the quality and experience of medical training in Australia. 

This year, doctors in training can call 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.

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 IMG, look out for your unique MTS survey link in an email from the Medical Board of Australia.

The MTS is a national, profession-wide survey of the strengths and weaknesses of medical training across states, territories and medical specialties in Australia.

Headline results from 2019 indicate there's a lot going well in medical training in Australia. Read reports of 2019 results or create a tailored report on the MTS website.

2020 results will strengthen the evidence base and enable agencies across the health sector to use the results to continually improve training. 

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 We have prioritised confidentiality and do not publish results when there are fewer than 10 responses.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.

Visit the medical training survey 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.

If you’re a trainee, please do the 2020 MTS. Other doctors, please support your colleague doctors in training to do the 2020 MTS.

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Interns

Intern requirements for 2020

Following on from the Board’s announcement about responses to COVID-19, the Board is responding to queries about changes to requirements for interns in 2020. 

The Board has waived some of the usual requirements for interns in response to COVID-19. The Board has not reduced the length of the internship for all interns. 

Interns are expected to complete 47 weeks of supervised clinical experience. This can be reduced to no less than 40 weeks, only where an intern has been directly affected by COVID-19. For example, if they are required to take sick leave or cannot work because they must isolate during the pandemic. 

If an intern has completed fewer than 47 weeks they will need to explain why, including how COVID-19 affected the number of weeks they could complete. 

The Board expects interns to continue their internship until usual completion dates. Interns who started their internship:

  • at the beginning of 2020 - will continue their internship until the start of 2021
  • in late 2019 - will continue their internship until late 2020.

The Board will not approve applications for general registration earlier than the usual intern completion date. 

Aware that COVID-19 could affect health services, the Board also confirmed changes to other requirements for interns including that the Board will accept:

  • clinical experience in accredited and non-accredited positions
  • clinical experience in any supervised rotations, with the requirements for the usual rotations of medicine, surgery and emergency medicine waived.

Health services that employ interns must continue to supervise them and provide them, as much as possible, with meaningful educational clinical experiences and teaching, as well as support during what will be a challenging and difficult time.

The Board will continue to review the requirements for interns, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

More information about the Board’s responses to COVID-19 are available on the COVID-19 page.

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2020 registration renewal 

COVID-19 financial hardship payment plan 

If you are experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19, it is possible to pay your medical registration in instalments. The Medical Board has put in place a payment plan for registration renewal fees. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be able to pay half your registration fee when you renew your registration by 30 September, and the second instalment in early 2021. 

There is more information about eligibility and FAQs on the renewal section of the Board’s website

The financial hardship application form will be available when registration renewal opens in early August. You must submit your financial hardship application by 17 September and before you renew. 

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Medical Board vacancies

Do you want to join the ACT Medical Board?

Applications are invited from medical practitioners and members of the community to fill the following vacancies on the ACT Medical Board:

  • three medical practitioner members 
  • the Chair position, and 
  • two community members. 

Applications open Thursday 30 July 2020 and close Thursday 27 August 2020. 

More information will be available from 30 July 2020 on Ahpra’s Statutory appointments page.

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Accreditation 

Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Intern training accreditation authority

Authority  Approved  Expiry 
Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria  24 June 2020  31 March 2022 
Postgraduate Medical Council of Western Australia  24 June 2020  31 March 2022 

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Alerts

Message to GPs from the Australian Government Department of Health

New legislation passed by the Commonwealth parliament in June simplifies recognition of specialist general practitioners and streamlines patient access to Medicare rebates.  

GPs’ access to Medicare will be determined by their registration status with the Medical Board of Australia. Medical practitioners who are awarded Fellowship as a GP will no longer need to make an application to Services Australia to access Medicare Rebates.

GPs who have gained fellowship with either GP college − the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine – and who are not currently registered as a specialist with the Medical Board of Australia, will need to apply to Ahpra to update their registration status by 15 June 2021. 

GPs who have previously been listed on the Vocational Register and wish to be reinstated on the Vocational Register and recognised as a GP by Medicare, will need to complete an Application for Vocational Registration for General Practitioner form and submit it to Services Australia before 15 June 2021.

More information is available on the Department of Health website.

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Medical regulation at work

Latest tribunal decisions have been published online

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. These decisions were published recently:

  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded a general practitioner and imposed conditions on her registration in relation to the way she operated her home-based clinic (Medical Board of Australia v Al Raheb)
  • the State Administrative Tribunal in Western Australia has reprimanded and suspended a medical practitioner in relation to his prescribing (Medical Board of Australia and Whiteside). 

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 Aphra’s website on the Raise a concern 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, 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.

Comment on the Board newsletter is welcome and should be sent 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).

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Page reviewed 28/07/2020