Medical Board of Australia - October 2021

October 2021

Update Medical Board of Australia


Chair’s message 

A big thank you to Australia’s doctors, who have helped hold our health system together during the COVID-19 pandemic. The last two years have been hugely challenging and it’s not over yet. The east coast is bracing for the impact of opening up, and other states and territories share trepidation about what it will mean for them. Please take care of yourselves and keep an eye out for each other if you can. Doctors4doctors is there for any of us who could do with some support. 

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Medical Board of Australia news

2021 Medical Training Survey

Huge response to Medical Training Survey

More than half Australia’s doctors in training did the 2021 Medical Training Survey (MTS) – that’s more than 21,000 voices sharing insights into medical training.

Results will be published in February 2022, accessible in static reports and through an online data-dashboard that enables comparisons across training sites and with past years’ results. Data from past years is already being used across the health sector to drive improvements in medical training.

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. It is run by the Medical Board of Australia.

A huge thanks to every doctor in training who made time to do the 2021 MTS, despite intense COVID-related pressures this year. The 55 per cent response rate has generated a robust national dataset that will continue to shape improvements to training. Results will show how COVID has impacted on medical training and will give insights into the quality of training and the culture of medicine.

As ever, a huge team effort underpins this result. We are grateful to each doctor in training who shared their story on social media to help boost participation rates. A big thank you to the agencies across the health sector who backed and promoted the 2021 MTS, and to members of the MTS Steering Committee and Advisory Group whose expertise and enthusiasm were invaluable.

We’re always keen to do better, so if you did the 2021 MTS and have any suggestions to improve the MTS, get in touch at MTS@ahpra.gov.au.

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2021 registration renewal 

Thanks for renewing on time

Online medical registration renewal is now ‘business as usual’ – with 94 per cent of registered medical practitioners renewing on time and 99 per cent renewing online.

Medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration were due to renew their registration by 30 September 2021. If you forgot to renew, you can do it in October, but a late fee applies.

Under the National Law, practitioners who do not renew their registration within one month of their registration expiry date must be removed from the national register of practitioners. Their registration will lapse, and they will not be able to practise medicine in Australia until a new application for registration is approved. This can take time. 

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International medical graduates

Returning to medical practice following an absence 

We have heard that some international medical graduates (IMGs) believe they won’t be granted registration if they have not practised medicine in more than three years. This is not necessarily true.

The Recency of practice registration standard aims to support patient safety. The standard applies to all medical practitioners applying for registration and defines requirements for practitioners who have not practised recently. The standard states that practitioners who have had two or more years clinical experience and have not practised:

  • for up to and including 12 months, do not have any additional requirements that have to be met before recommencing practice
  • for between 12 months and up to and including 36 months, must complete at least the equivalent of one year’s continuing professional development (CPD) activities, relevant to their intended scope of practice. The CPD activities must be designed to maintain and update knowledge and clinical judgement
  • in more than 36 months, must provide a plan for professional development and re-entry to practice to the Board for consideration and approval.

Medical practitioners, including IMGs, can apply for medical registration if they have not practised in more than three years – but they will need to provide a professional development and re-entry to practice plan to the Board for approval. The plan helps ensure that the practitioner is returning to safe practice with appropriate supports. While each practitioner’s plan will be different, it is likely to include relevant professional development activities and supervision requirements. 

The Board has published guidance and a template to assist applicants for registration who need to submit a professional development and re-entry to practice plan. 

IMGs who have not practised in more than three years should aim to apply for positions that are well supervised, to support their safe return to practice. 

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Panel vacancies

Interested in sitting on panel hearings?

We are seeking expressions of interest from anaesthetists and endocrinologists for appointment to the Board’s List of approved persons for panel hearings

When the Board receives a notification, it can decide to refer the practitioner to a panel. There are panels for health matters and for performance and conduct issues. Panels are convened by the Board on an as-required basis, using members from the profession with the relevant expertise, chosen from the list of persons approved by the Board. 

Panels include practitioners from all state and territories except NSW (as NSW is a co-regulatory jurisdiction). 

Panels are convened infrequently, and the time commitments vary significantly depending on the matter and the allegations. If called on, panel members are remunerated for preparation time and for time sitting at the hearing. 

Appointments to the list of approved persons are for up to three years, starting in July 2022. There is an option to apply for reappointment.

For more information or to express your interest, please email statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au.

Expressions of interest close Sunday 14 November 2021.

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Accreditation

Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Intern training accreditation authority

Authority Approved Expiry
Prevocational Medical Accreditation Queensland 22 September 2021 31 March 2025

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News and alerts

Updated regulatory principles – supporting trust and confidence in regulated health professions

We’ve updated our regulatory principles to foster a culturally safe, responsive and risk-based approach to regulation. 

The regulatory principles guide the National Boards and Ahpra when making regulatory decisions. 

The changes reflect community expectations and new policy directions from the Health Council, as well as feedback from public consultation. They recognise that community confidence in the regulation of health practitioners is key to a safe and effective health system.

Overall, the changes:

  • reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective of the National Scheme
  • recognise the role of the National Boards and Ahpra in developing a culturally safe and respectful health workforce
  • consider the risks to the public including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and members of the community who are vulnerable to harm 
  • embed fairness and transparency, and 
  • highlight the importance of maintaining community confidence in regulated health professions and working with consumer bodies to achieve this. 

More information about the review of the regulatory principles is available on Ahpra’s website

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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. These decisions were published recently:

  • the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded a medical practitioner, cancelled his registration and disqualified him from applying for registration for seven years for a serious criminal offence (Medical Board of Australia v Balasubramanian)
  • the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has upheld the Medical Board of Australia’s decision to take immediate action to suspend a medical practitioner after allegations she breached sexual boundaries and inappropriately prescribed Schedule 4 and 8 medications (Dielenberg v Medical Board of Australia).

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 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 23/06/2022