May 2021

Update Medical Board of Australia


Chair’s message 

There is an established link between respectful practice, healthcare culture and patient safety. Evidence shows that as respect and professionalism increase, team performance improves and complaints and medical litigation decrease. Helping to improve the culture of medicine is one of the goals of our Professional Performance Framework.

Providing culturally safe care is part of good medical practice and is in our Code of conduct. Culturally safe and respectful practice is important for all communities, and essential to our care of patients from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It directly affects patient care and patient outcomes. I’m pleased that everyone working in the National Scheme is taking part in cultural safety training.

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

Medical Board of Australia news

ACT Board appointments

New Chair for ACT Medical Board

Thank you, Dr Kerrie Bradbury

We thank outgoing Chair of the ACT Board, Dr Kerrie Bradbury, for her contribution to the ACT community and medical profession. Dr Bradbury, a general practitioner, was appointed to the ACT Board in 2009 and has been Chair since 2016. We are grateful for her thoughtful and diligent service. Dr Bradbury continues as a member of the National Board.

Welcome, Professor Peter Warfe

We welcome Professor Peter Warfe CSC, a public health physician, as Chair of the ACT Board. Professor Warfe joined the ACT Board in 2014 and will take over as Chair in June. He has extensive experience in occupational and preventative medicine, as well as rural and remote medicine through his work with defence health.  

We are grateful to all members of state and territory medical boards across Australia, who make significant contributions to our community and to public safety. Board membership in all states and territories changes from time to time as individuals complete their terms and new members bring new experience to regulatory decisions. We recognise the dedication and care of all board members as they go about their important work. The current members of each state and territory medical board can be found on the website at About us.

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Medical Board vacancies

Are you interested in joining a state medical board?

A call is out for applications from medical practitioners and community members to fill vacancies on two medical boards.

New South Wales Medical Board:

  • four practitioner members including the position of Chair
  • two community members.

Northern Territory Medical Board:

  • one practitioner member.

Applications close Friday 25 June 2021. More information is on Ahpra’s Statutory appointments page.

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Quarterly registration data

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.

The latest data are available on our website under Statistics on the News page.

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News and alerts

Attention GPs with RACGP or ACRRM fellowship, but not specialist registration 

Time is running out for GPs with RACGP or ACRRM fellowship who don’t yet have specialist registration, if you want your patients to retain access to Medicare rebates.

From 16 June 2021, GP access to Medicare rebates will be linked to specialist registration with the Medical Board of Australia, after Commonwealth Government changes to the Health Insurance Act 1973. Services Australia will use Ahpra’s Register of Medical Practitioners to determine GP and patient access to Medicare rebates.  

From this date, general practitioners with a fellowship qualification from RACGP or ACRRM must hold specialist registration with the Medical Board to access Medicare rebates.

Affected GP fellows need to apply now for specialist registration as a general practitioner with the Medical Board.

You can check your registration type on Ahpra’s public register.

More information

There is more information and FAQs for GPs applying for specialist registration on the Medical Board website.

More information about the Commonwealth Government changes is available on the Department of Health website.

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Cultural safety training for National Scheme team

Embedding cultural safety in the National Scheme and the health system in Australia is one of the objectives in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025.

To help meet the objective, board and committee members and Ahpra staff are all doing online and face-to-face education and training.

The Moong moong-gak Cultural Safety Training program is designed to provide us with the knowledge, skills and abilities to develop and apply culturally safe work practices in our work.

We will be hearing and learning from the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and reflecting on our own behaviours and conscious and unconscious beliefs. We’ll then be better prepared to engage in culturally safe practices, communication and behaviour, and contribute to more effective service delivery and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. 

The cultural safety training aims to help us all reflect critically on our knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and the power differentials in providing safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.

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Dealing with vexatious notifications

In 2017, independent research into vexatious complaints found that these account for less than one per cent of notifications to Ahpra. The report, Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints found there was more risk in people not reporting concerns than of them making truly vexatious complaints.

But the report also noted that being on the receiving end of any notification was distressing for health practitioners and found that regulators needed good processes for dealing with unfounded complaints quickly and fairly.

Ahpra has now developed A framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications for staff and regulatory decision-makers, to help us identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications. The framework outlines:

  • the principles and features, significant impacts and potential indicators of vexatious notifications
  • how to identify vexatious notifications, and
  • what to do about it.

Practitioners who feel that they may be the subject of a vexatious notification are more likely to feel stressed and anxious. The new framework guides our team to identify and support these people when a concern about vexatiousness is raised.

Need help or more information?

The framework is available on Ahpra’s website. There is also more information about how notifications are managed, and links to support services for practitioners, on the Ahpra notifications page.

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Medical regulation at work

Latest tribunal decisions published

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. Recent published decisions include:

  • the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia has fined and reprimanded a general practitioner and imposed a condition on his registration for inadequate patient care that fell substantially below expected standards (Medical Board of Australia and Naderi)
  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded and suspended a general practitioner for inappropriate prescribing of a treatment for obesity, poor record-keeping and providing false and misleading information (Medical Board of Australia v Soffer)
  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded a former GP and disqualified him from applying for registration for two years, for holding out a staff member as a registered health practitioner, misleading Ahpra and failing to practise medicine safely (Medical Board of Australia v Bernard)
  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded a former specialist psychiatrist who sexually assaulted a patient and disqualified him from applying for registration for five years (Medical Board of Australia v Thomas)
  • the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia has suspended a medical practitioner for sending inappropriate Facebook messenger communications to a patient (Medical Board of Australia and Alkiaat)
  • the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded and suspended a medical practitioner and imposed conditions on his registration for inappropriate prescribing, failing to keep adequate records and failing to provide adequate healthcare (Medical Board of Australia v Leow).

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 Concerned about a practitioner? 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 27/05/2021