Most of you will be renewing your medical registration in a couple of months. In the meantime, here are a few extra things to think about:
We encourage you to continue to do CPD that is relevant to your scope of practice. However, we know that many practitioners’ plans for CPD in 2020 were scuttled by COVID-19. The Board will not take action against any doctor who has not been able to complete their CPD activities this year as a result of COVID-19.
These relaxed requirements apply to the CPD doctors are expected to do in 2020, and to their declaration in the year that covers 2020 CPD. If you have general registration, this will be the declaration you make when you renew your registration in 2020. If you have specialist registration, it may be related to the declaration you make in subsequent years, about the 2020 CPD year.
We will be keeping a close watch to determine whether the 2021 renewal year is affected.
What you need to do:
We recognise that some medical practitioners are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the exceptional circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to this, the Board is establishing a payment plan for practitioners experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19. If you meet the criteria, you will be eligible to pay half your registration fee when you renew your registration by 30 September, and the second instalment in early 2021.
Medical practitioners will need to apply to the Board before renewing their registration if they have experienced genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19. In each case, the Board will consider the individual circumstances of each applicant.
The criteria, application form and FAQs will be published on the renewal section of the Board’s website in coming weeks.
Doctors on the pandemic sub-register don’t need to renew their medical registration. These doctors were granted general or specialist registration in April 2020 for up to 12 months. We will contact them again before next April, to ask them whether they wish to seek ongoing registration. If so, they will need to apply for registration through the standard process.
All doctors who perform exposure-prone procedures will need to make a declaration at registration renewal in 2020 that they commit to comply with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) guidelines about blood-borne viruses. Read more below.
As well as the routine declarations you need to make at registration renewal, there are some things you need to declare at the time that they happen. You are obliged to tell us within seven days if:
You must tell us within 30 days about any changes to your:
A full list of the ‘relevant events’ that you are obliged to tell us about is included in the Notice of certain events form published on the Ahpra website.
To inform us of a relevant event, complete the Notice of certain events form.
To update your address and contact details log into your Ahpra account or if the change of personal details includes a name change, use the Request for change of personal details form on the common forms page.
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New guidelines on blood-borne viruses come into effect on 6 July 2020. If you perform exposure-prone procedures1 (EPPs), or treat practitioners or students living with a blood-borne virus who do, read on.
The new guidelines apply to:
The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) developed the Australian national guidelines for the management of healthcare workers living with blood borne viruses and healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses.
Practitioners who perform exposure-prone procedures will have to declare that they commit to comply with the CDNA guidelines when they first register to practise, and when they renew their registration each year.
Health practitioners and students living with a blood-borne virus who perform EPPs, can practise their profession if they comply with the CDNA guidelines.
Among other things, the CDNA guidelines recommend that registered healthcare workers who perform exposure-prone procedures take reasonable steps to know their blood-borne virus status and are tested for blood-borne viruses at least once every three years. The Board will not ask for test results for the purposes of registration or renewal of registration but can take action if a practitioner makes a false declaration.
More information is published in the news item.
1 Exposure-prone procedures are procedures where there is a risk of injury to the healthcare worker resulting in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the healthcare worker. These procedures include those where the healthcare worker’s hands (whether gloved or not) may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.
We will be tracking the impact of COVID-19 on medical training in the 2020 Medical Training Survey.
Results from the 2019 survey are available on the MTS website and form the baseline in this important new national, longitudinal dataset.
The survey is open to all doctors in training and tracks their perception about the quality of training. The aim of the survey is to support continuous improvement in training.
The 2020 MTS will be open during the renewal of registration process in August and September.
We have revised the survey questions about bullying and harassment to obtain more useful data that health sector agencies can use to help build a culture of respect in medicine. However, we remain committed to protecting the confidentiality of individuals and we will continue to de-identify results and will not produce any reports where the response size is less than 10 doctors.
The 2020 Medical Training Survey is once again the result of strong collaboration. We are grateful for the continuing support of the doctors in training, specialist medical colleges, state and territory health departments, the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australian Medical Council (AMC), the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, Postgraduate Medical Councils and employers.
If you’re a doctor in training, look out for the survey when you renew your registration. Interns and international medical graduates will receive an email in early August with a unique survey link.
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Doctors and medical students around Australia now have access to free, confidential telehealth mental health services through the new Drs4Drs Support Service.
The service is confidential, non-judgemental and will be provided by Converge International.
Established by Doctors’ Health Services Limited (DrHS), the support service is funded by government and independent of the Medical Board and Ahpra.
The Drs4Drs Support Service provides crisis support as well as non-urgent mental health support. It complements existing services provided by the network of state-based doctors’ health advisory services that are also provided by DrHS.
Care will be provided by mental health professionals experienced in helping people work through workplace issues, conflict management, relationship concerns, financial problems, legal matters, and lifestyle issues.
All services are completely confidential. DrHS does not receive any information that could identify anyone using this service. Patient privacy is paramount and there is an option of anonymity.
DrHS is a subsidiary of the AMA, established with funding from the Medical Board of Australia to provide health and wellbeing support to medical students and doctors. The Drs4Drs Support Service is funded by a grant from the Federal Department of Health and allows participants to have up to three free telehealth counselling sessions.
Doctors and medical students can access the Drs4Drs Support Service on 1300 374 377 (1300 DR4 DRS), or visit Drs4Drs.com.au − a national one-stop-shop for wellness and support resources for the medical profession.
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:
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 Make a complaint 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).