Medical Board of Australia - October 2014
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October 2014

Update Medical Board of Australia

The Medical Board of Australia registers 100,000 medical practitioners.

Registration milestone reached

We reached a significant milestone recently when the Medical Board of Australia registered its 100,000th medical practitioner. At the end of August 2014 there were 100,013 registered medical practitioners in Australia across all registration types.

Practitioner numbers continue to fluctuate as recent graduates register for the first time and other medical practitioners choose not to renew their registration when registration is due each September. The Board publishes quarterly data profiling Australia’s medical workforce, available on the Statistics page

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Research into mandatory reporting.

How is it working?

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards have welcomed research published in the Medical Journal of Australia recently about mandatory reporting in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

Mandatory reporting is one of the public protections introduced by all health ministers nationally in 2010, with the start of the National Scheme. As the article states, it is a feature of the National Law1 that has ‘sparked controversy and debate among clinicians, professional bodies and patient safety advocates’. More information about mandatory reporting can be found on our website under Guidelines for mandatory notifications.

The research was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of Melbourne and all data were collected on site at AHPRA’s offices.

The research aimed to obtain baseline information about how mandatory reporting is working, by analysing an early sample of mandatory notifications and determining how frequently notifications are made, by and against which types of practitioners, and about what types of behaviour.

The researchers concluded that although Australia’s mandatory reporting regime is in its infancy, the data suggest that some of the adverse effects and manifest benefits forecast by critics and supporters, respectively, have not materialised. The researchers also concluded that further research should explore the variation in notification rates observed, evaluate the outcomes of reports, and test the effects of the mandatory reporting law on whistle-blowing and help-seeking behaviour.

We will continue to monitor trends in mandatory reporting and will analyse the outcome of mandatory notifications over time. More information about mandatory reporting will be published in the 2013/14 annual report of AHPRA and the National Boards, to be published next month.  

1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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Final year medical students - online applications for registration now open.

Smoothing the path from study to practice

Final year medical students who will soon complete an approved program of study can go online now to apply for registration before they graduate.

The online graduate application service on the AHPRA website smooths the path from study to work by enabling final year students to apply for registration four to six weeks before completing their medical course. Medical graduates apply for provisional registration to undertake an internship in an accredited position.

Education providers advise AHPRA when applicants are eligible to graduate and new graduates can start work as soon as their name is published on the Register of practitioners.

More information is available under Graduate applications.

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Actions to improve the consumer experience.

HIC report published online 

A report recommending ways to improve consumers’ interaction with the National Scheme has been published, along with a list of actions that AHPRA is taking to address the issues raised.

In March this year, AHPRA commissioned the Health Issues Centre Victoria (HIC) to investigate and make suggestions to improve the consumer experience of the National Scheme that regulates health practitioners.

AHPRA has published the HIC report – Setting things right: Improving the consumer experience of AHPRA including the joint notification process between AHPRA and OHSC. Accompanying the report is AHPRA’s action plan, which outlines what work AHPRA has done to date, and what will be done next, to address the report’s recommendations. Both documents can be accessed via AHPRA’s News page.

AHPRA has committed to reporting publicly on its actions to improve the experience of people who make a notification (complaint about a health practitioner).

The HIC drew on historical and current data to come up with clear picture of the current experience of consumers who have made a complaint about a practitioner. The research focused on the experience of Victorian notifiers, but AHPRA’s action plan applies the improvements nationally.

The Medical Board has also received feedback from the Australian Medical Association, professional indemnity insurers and individuals about the experience of medical practitioners about whom a notification has been made. They are concerned that the whole process takes too long and the stress it causes is very damaging to practitioners. While no one enjoys having to respond to the Board about a notification, the Board is committed to improving the timelines and transparency of the process. We will work with AHPRA to explore the practitioner experience further and improve it. The guiding principles in the National Law state that the Board and AHPRA should operate in ways that are transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair. These principles will underpin this work.

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Providing high quality education and training

One of the objectives of the National Law is to facilitate the provision of high quality education and training of health practitioners. The accreditation function is the primary way of achieving this. More information about the Medical Board’s accreditation function is available on our Accreditation page.

Australasian College of Sports Physicians

After receiving accreditation advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the accredited continuing professional development program and Fellowship program in the recognised specialty of sport and exercise medicine of the Australasian College of Sports Physicians (FACSP) as providing a qualification for the purposes of specialist registration until 31 March 2019.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists

After receiving accreditation advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the accredited specialist training programs and the continuing professional development program (leading to Fellowship) of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (FRANZCR) as providing a qualification for the purposes of specialist registration until 31 March 2019.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

After receiving accreditation advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board approved the following accredited training programs and the continuing professional development program (leading to Fellowship) of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP) as providing a qualification for the purposes of specialist registration until 31 March 2018:

  • 2003 Fellowship Program (existing program being phased out), and 
  • 2012 Fellowship Program (new competency-based program implemented in 2013).

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News and alerts

Guidelines for medical practitioners who administer sedation

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) has recently revised its Guidelines on sedation and/or analgesia for diagnostic and interventional medical, dental or surgical procedures.

Sedation is administered by a variety of practitioners including anaesthetists, other medical practitioners, nurses and dentists. The document provides guidance to practitioners who administer procedural sedation and/or analgesia for diagnostic and interventional medical, dental and surgical procedures.

To date the following organisations have endorsed ANZCA’s 2014 guidelines:

  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia 
  • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 
  • Australasian College for Emergency Medicine 
  • College of Intensive Care Medicine of Australia and New Zealand 
  • Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, and 
  • Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

The document is available on the ANZCA website.

From the Victorian Coroner

The Victorian Coroner has written to AHPRA and asked that we highlight the dangers associated with the blurring of professional boundaries and the potential loss of objectivity inherent in treating friends and colleagues. The Coroner stated that ‘health professionals treated in settings where they are well known should be treated the same as any other patient. They should be advised to submit to standard treatment guidelines for that institution and assumptions should not be made about their state of knowledge’.

The Board has also issued guidance in Good medical practice (our code of conduct) on providing medical care to those with whom you have a close personal relationship (section 3.14).

The code of conduct is available on our website under Codes, guidelines and policies.

Call for applications for appointment to National Boards

Applications are sought for appointments to upcoming vacancies on a number of National Boards, including the Medical Board of Australia.

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Panel, court and tribunal decisions

Panel, court and tribunal decisions published online

AHPRA on behalf of the 14 National Boards publishes a record of panel, court and tribunal decisions about registered health practitioners. Summaries are published when there is clinical and educational value.

Court and tribunal decisions

Under the National Law, the Board must refer a matter about a registered medical practitioner or student to a tribunal if the Board reasonably believes that the practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct; or the practitioner’s registration was improperly obtained because the Board was given false or misleading information. The Board must also refer the matter to a tribunal if a panel established by the Board requires the Board to do so.

Medical practitioners may also appeal certain decisions of the Board to a tribunal, or court.

AHPRA publishes summaries of selected tribunal or court cases from time to time. These can be sourced at Publications>Tribunal decisions on the AHPRA website. A full library of published hearing decisions from tribunals or courts relating to complaints and notifications made about health practitioners or students is available on the Austlii website.

Panel hearings

When investigating a notification, state and territory committees of the Medical Board of Australia 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. Summaries have been provided when there is educational and clinical value. These summaries are accessible from hyperlinks within the table. Practitioners' names are not published, consistent with the requirements of the National Law. This table does not include summaries of panel decisions made under previous legislation, even if these were held after July 2010.

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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 Joanna Flynn AM, 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 [email protected].

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 23/04/2024