In this month's issue:
Medical qualifications are hard to come by. They form a critical part of the threshold for entry to the medical profession and tell patients that their doctor has the knowledge and skills to provide safe care. To protect the public and uphold trust in our profession, Ahpra prosecutes anyone claiming to be a doctor when they are not. You can read more about a recent case that we prosecuted in this newsletter.
Dr Anne Tonkin AO
Chair, Medical Board of Australia
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This year, 93 per cent of eligible doctors renewed their registration on time.
Medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration were due to renew their registration by 30 September 2023. If you forgot to renew, you can do it in October, but a late fee applies.
Under the National Law, if you don’t renew your registration within one month of your registration expiry date, your name must be removed from the Register of practitioners, your registration lapses and you can’t practise medicine in Australia until a new application for registration is approved. This can take time.
You’ll soon be able to access the results of the 2023 Medical Training Survey (MTS).
Thanks to some system changes, we’ve slashed the time between closing the survey and publishing the results. The full results will be published in static reports in December 2023 – a report with national results, one report for each trainee cohort, state and territory, and specialist college, and a report for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees. Also new this year are infographic snapshots of results by state and territory, specialist college and trainee cohort.
Our data dashboard – loaded with the 2023 results – will be online and accessible to everyone to create their own tailored reports from early February 2024. The gap between December release of results and February access to the online data dashboard is so that we can ensure the security of the dashboard data.
A big shout out too, to all the doctors in training who did the 2023 MTS. Again this year, more than half Australia’s doctors in training – more than 23,000 super-busy people – made time and shared their insights about medical training.
The 54 per cent response rate has strengthened the robust national dataset already being used to shape improvements to training.
With minor 2023 question changes, we’re keen to learn what trainees have said about flexible training, the culture of medicine and their experience of medical training.
The MTS is a longitudinal survey that tracks the quality of medical training. With 2023 results now in, there will be five years of longitudinal data to explore.
Stringent privacy controls make it safe and confidential for trainees to do the MTS, which is run by the Medical Board of Australia and supported by organisations across the health sector.
Watch this space and thank you all!
We are always keen to do better, so if you did the 2023 MTS and have any suggestions for improvement, get in touch at MTS@ahpra.gov.au.
Only specialist surgeons can call themselves ‘surgeon’ under new legislation restricting the use of the title by registered medical practitioners.
From now on, a medical practitioner can only use the title ‘surgeon’ if they are registered in one of the recognised specialties of surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, or ophthalmology.
Doctors who continue to use the title without the relevant specialist registration may face criminal and/or regulatory action.
Protecting the title ‘surgeon’ is one of a package of cosmetic surgery reforms designed to clean up the cosmetic surgery industry, raise standards and better protect patients.
It is good for patient safety and what patients asked for. It will make sure that when a medical practitioner uses the word ‘surgeon’, it means something very specific about their skills and qualifications.
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Surgeons) Amendment Act 2023, passed in the National Law’s host jurisdiction of Queensland, legally protects the title ‘surgeon' from being used by any doctor without the necessary qualifications and training.
Until now, any registered medical practitioner could call themselves a surgeon, even if they were not registered in a surgical speciality or had not completed specialist training in surgery.
Only doctors with the relevant specialist registration can now call themselves a cosmetic surgeon.
The legal change gives a clear and agreed meaning to the word ‘surgeon’, whether it is used alone or in combination with other words such as cosmetic surgeon or aesthetic surgeon.
Doctors who can no longer use the protected title must stop using it. This includes on all advertising and in referring to themselves generally.
Doctors who fail to stop using the newly protected title ‘surgeon’ after they have been warned not to, could face criminal prosecution by Ahpra. The Board may also take disciplinary action, which could be in addition to or instead of prosecution.
Misuse of the newly protected title is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum fine of $60,000 or three years’ imprisonment, or both.
We have published FAQs about the use of the title ‘surgeon’ on the Medical Board website.
We have released the final two modules in our four-part series on regulation and professionalism for medical students, aimed at deepening students’ knowledge before they join the profession.
The educational resources aim to dispel myths and misconceptions about regulation and help medical students understand the regulation of medical practitioners in Australia. The modules highlight the importance of professionalism and good communication in practice, because these are at the heart of most patient complaints (notifications) about doctors.
The resources are:
Module 1: Protecting the public – the purpose of medical regulation
Module 2: Replacing fear with facts – understanding notifications
Module 3: Listening – what matters to patients?
Module 4: Navigating professional challenges.
The modules are an optional resource for medical schools in Australia and align with the medical school Professionalism and Leadership curriculum. While primarily aimed at final-year medical students, they are suitable for any year level. They have been designed for independent self-paced learning and there is no inbuilt assessment.
The content includes registration and notification data, case studies, stories and commentary from doctors and members of the public, information about how notifications are handled, and the different organisations involved in regulation.
While they are aimed at medical students, medical practitioners may also find them informative.
All modules are now available on the Medical Board website.
The report of 2022 specialist international medical graduate (SIMG) application and assessment data is now published. Data from all specialist medical colleges are collected and collated, including the number of SIMG applications for assessment and college assessment timeframes. The data are reported against benchmarks set by the Medical Board.
Specialist colleges assess SIMGs using the Board’s Standards: Specialist medical college assessment of specialist international medical graduates, which have now been in place for more than two years.
The data are reported in two sections – SIMGs who applied under the current standards in the last two years and those who applied under the previous Good practice guidelines for the specialist international medical graduate assessment process.
Each specialist medical college assesses SIMGs who wish to practise as a specialist in their specialty in Australia. Each assessment is individualised. All SIMGs need to satisfactorily complete a period of supervised practice and pass college assessments before they apply for specialist registration.
The report of 2022 data is published on the Board’s IMG specialist pathway page.
Do you have feedback about whether rural generalist medicine should be recognised as a new field of specialty practice within the specialty of general practice?
Consultation is open until 12 December 2023 on a joint application from the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to expand the list of recognised specialities to include rural generalist medicine.
The currently approved List of specialties, fields of specialty practice and related specialist titles in medicine is published on our website.
The Board’s recommendation to health ministers will be informed by consultation feedback and advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Board’s accreditation authority.
The consultation paper is available on the Board’s Current consultations page.
A Sydney court has convicted a woman who posed as a medical practitioner online during the Covid-19 pandemic, including on TikTok and Instagram.
Ms Dalya Karezi was not medically qualified and had never been registered with the Medical Board of Australia. Often wearing medical scrubs and a stethoscope and talking about topics such as reproductive and sexual health, Ms Karezi posted more than 50 videos to her TikTok account during the pandemic. Her account had more than 240,000 followers, had been ‘liked’ by more than 1.5 million viewers and included individual videos played more than 15 million times.
Ahpra prosecuted Ms Karezi to protect the public, uphold trust in the medical profession and enforce the law that prevents unregistered people from pretending to be qualified medical practitioners.
Ms Karezi pleaded guilty to one count of taking or using a title, name, initial, word or description that indicated she was authorised or qualified to practise in the medical profession under section 116(1)(b)(ii) of the National Law and one count of indicating that she was a medical practitioner under section 116(1)(b)(i).
The court imposed a two-year Community Corrections Order and ordered Ms Karezi to pay Ahpra’s legal costs of $13,300.
More detail is in the news item on the Medical Board website.
Medical practitioners working in hospitals are invited to participate in a survey being carried out by the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) to determine the current maturity of clinical governance across Australasian health services.
Doctors from all types and sizes of hospitals can participate (acute through to community, public and private). The survey is anonymous with an option to identify your hospital. Results will help inform opportunities to enhance medical practitioner involvement in quality and safety, and results may be published in a peer reviewed journal.
The survey will take about eight minutes and can be accessed via the Clinical governance maturity survey link. It closes on the 10 November 2023. For enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. Here are recently published 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 health practitioner? 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.
Comments on the Board newsletter are welcome, send your feedback and suggestions to email@example.com.
For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the Ahpra customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).