Medical Board of Australia - September 2020
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September 2020

Update Medical Board of Australia

Chair’s message 

More than 17,000 doctors in training have done the Medical Training Survey (MTS) this year. If you’re a doctor in training, join your colleagues and help shape the future of training. With such great participation rates, the data will be really useful to support ongoing improvements. Results will be released in early 2021. 

I encourage you to read the updated Good medical practice, our Code of conduct. We hope you find it a useful guide to support your professional practice.  

Also this month, we published a record number of submissions on the Board’s proposed options for clearer regulation of medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments. We are now taking our time to consider the many thoughtful views and suggestions made to our consultation. The Board is keeping an open mind as we work towards a sensible, safe and effective regulatory response.

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Medical Board of Australia news

Code of conduct

Updated Code of conduct applies soon

An updated version of Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia takes effect on 1 October 2020.

Good medical practice sets out the principles that characterise good medical practice.

Changes to the 2020 version don’t significantly change expected professional standards. We have re-ordered some content to improve flow and readability, strengthened guidance on discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment, expanded the section on cultural safety and included a new section on career transitions for doctors.

The 2020 version of the code is published on the Board’s website.

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2020 registration renewal ends soon

Time is running out to renew your medical registration

Registration renewal for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is now due – renew before 30 September 2020 to avoid a late fee.

If you haven’t already renewed your registration, do it before 30 September if you want to continue to practise. Online renewal is quick and easy.

To renew, follow the prompts in the reminders Ahpra has sent you by email or mail. 

If you apply to renew on time, you can practise while your application is being processed. When your name appears on the online national register, you are registered even if the registration expiry date displayed has passed. 

Anyone who wants to confirm you are registered can also call us on 1300 419 495. 

A video and tips for renewing online are available on the Board’s registration renewal page. There is also information about continuing professional development (CPD) requirements if you have not been able to complete CPD because of COVID-19. 

We encourage doctors in training who have general registration to do the Medical Training Survey when they renew. Follow the MTS survey link after the workforce survey.

Fees for 2020/21

The 2020/21 registration fee for medical practitioners is $811. The fee schedule is available on our fees page. 

There is a late fee for renewal applications received in October. 

What happens if I don’t renew by the end of the late period?

If you do not apply to renew your registration by the end of the late renewal period, your name will be removed from the register of medical practitioners. Your registration will lapse and you will not be able to practise medicine in Australia. A ‘fast-track’ application can be made, but you cannot practise until it is processed and the national register is updated, which can take time. 

Download your registration certificate and tax invoice

Your registration details will be updated on the online register of practitioners when Ahpra finalises your renewal application. The online register is updated every day and is the safest and most up-to-date way to check who is registered. 

Ahpra is no longer mailing out paper registration certificates. If you need a copy of your registration certificate, or access to your renewal tax invoice, you can print them from the online portal when your renewal has been finalised. 

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Help shape medical training in Australia

Just a few days left to do the Medical Training Survey

More than 17,000 doctors in training have done the Medical Training Survey. If you’re a doctor in training, you can join thousands of colleagues and do the Medical Training Survey before 30 September. It’s safe and confidential, so use your voice and strengthen the data that will help improve the quality of medical training in Australia.

You can read more on the MTS website about the results from last year’s survey and how they are being used to improve training. The Australian Medical Council (AMC) has recently shared how they’ve used 2019 MTS data. 

Hear from your colleagues about why they’ve done the MTS and listen to the MTS episode on the Taking care podcast.

If you’re a doctor in training, you can do the MTS when you renew your medical registration. Look out for the MTS link at the end of the registration renewal process. 

If you’re an intern or an IMG, look out for your unique MTS survey link in an email from the Medical Board of Australia.

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International medical graduates with USA qualifications

Board recognises a new competent authority 

Medical graduates from the United States of America (USA) who have successfully completed the US medical licensing examination ‘COMLEX-USA’ since 2005 now have access to the Competent Authority pathway.

The Competent Authority pathway allows international medical graduates (IMGs) who have completed specified training and/or assessment and defined experience in a competent authority country, to be deemed qualified for general registration after satisfactorily completing 12 months supervised practice in Australia. 

COMLEX-USA is the US National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners’ (NBOME) Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

The Medical Board of Australia has recognised the NBOME as a competent authority.

There are two pathways for primary medical training in the USA – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO USA) and Doctor of Medicine (MD). Both pathways are recognised in the USA and graduates are considered equally for positions as medical practitioners. Until now, doctors who have been awarded the DO USA were eligible only for limited registration in Australia. After seeking advice from the Australian Medical Council, the Medical Board has decided to recognise graduates from both pathways as qualified for general registration.  

Osteopathic medical gradates seeking medical registration in the USA can choose to complete the COMLEX-USA or the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). USA osteopathic medical graduates also complete an accredited residency program. The Board currently recognises the USMLE in category D of the Competent Authority pathway.

IMGs who meet the eligibility criteria for the new Competent Authority pathway category can apply for provisional registration in Australia. Details are available on the Board’s Competent Authority pathway page.

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Specialist international medical graduate assessment

Specialist pathway data published 

Each year, we publish data on the number of specialist international medical graduates (SIMGs) on the specialist pathway. 

Each specialist medical college assesses SIMGs who wish to practise in their specialty in Australia. Each assessment is individualised but in general, SIMGs are required to satisfactorily complete a period of supervised practice and pass college assessments before they can apply for specialist registration. 

The 2019 data on SIMG assessment are now published on our website. Data are collected and collated from all specialist colleges. Data includes the number of SIMG applications for assessment and how long each part of the assessment takes. The data are reported against benchmarks for the college assessment process set by the Board. 

The 2020 data will also include a new metric measuring the total time a SIMG is on the specialist pathway. We have added this on the recommendation of the Accreditation Systems Review.

The 2019 data are published on the Board’s IMG page.

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Response to consultation 

Record number of submissions published

A record number of submissions on proposed options to more clearly regulate medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments are now published.

The submissions to our consultation reflect the diversity of passionately held views in the profession and the community about these areas of practice. Concerns about the consultation process itself were also raised and are published.

To manage the unprecedented volume being published - nearly 10,000 of 13,500 received – submissions have been clustered for the purposes of publication into three broad groups:

  • submissions from organisations (57 submissions)
  • submissions from individuals (~1,100 submissions)
  • submissions received via third party websites (~ 8,500 submissions).

Some submissions are not published, for example when the sender did not consent to publication, or when the submission was out of scope. The Board reviewed all submissions within the scope of the consultation.

The Board has also published a consultation submission report, to help readers navigate the diverse spread of views and perspectives raised in the consultation. 

The report outlines the consultation process and provides information about the submissions received and published. It does not include thematic analysis of the feedback. 

The consultation, open for six months in 2019, sparked extensive debate in the community and the profession and triggered unprecedented interest in the work of the Board. It sought feedback from stakeholders about whether additional safeguards were needed for patients receiving care from medical practitioners who provide complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments.

It looked at options to best protect patients and minimise the risk of harm to them, without stifling innovation, making a judgement about specific clinical practices or limiting patients’ right to choose their healthcare. 

The Board is now considering the many thoughtful views and suggestions made in the consultation. We are keeping an open mind as we work towards a sensible, safe and effective regulatory response.

The Board has not set a timeline to settle and publish its final position, but this work is a priority.

The submissions are available on the Board’s website under Past consultations.

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Board appointments 

Changes on the NSW and Tasmanian Medical Boards

We welcome new members to the NSW and Tasmanian Medical Boards, and farewell others. We particularly thank the outgoing Chairs of both Boards for their leadership, contribution and dedication: 

  • Associate Professor Stephen Adelstein has served the NSW community and profession as Chair of the NSW Medical Board since 2015. He has been a Board member since 2010 and was a member of the former NSW Medical Council from 2008. Professor Adelstein is Head of the Department of Clinical Immunology and Allergy and Director of the Central Sydney Immunology Laboratory at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and is involved in teaching and research. 
  • Dr Andrew Mulcahy has served the Tasmanian community and profession for many years, through his contribution to medical regulation. He was on the Tasmanian Medical Board from 2010, including six years as Chair. Before that, Dr Mulcahy served on the Medical Council of Tasmania. He is a specialist anaesthetist and works in private practice. 

We are delighted that Associate Professor Adelstein and Dr Mulcahy are continuing their contribution to medical regulation through their ongoing membership of the Medical Board of Australia (the National Board).

Welcome new Chairs 

We warmly welcome:

  • Dr Sergio Diez Alvarez, a specialist physician and medical administrator, as Chair of the NSW Board. Dr Diez Alvarez has served on the NSW Board since 2016 and was appointed Chair in August 2020. He is an experienced board member who has worked in rural and regional centres in NSW for the last 10 years. 
  • Dr Kristen FitzGerald, a specialist general practitioner, as Chair of the Tasmanian Board. Dr FitzGerald was appointed Chair in July 2020 and has served on the Tasmanian Board for seven years. She was a member of the Medical Council of Tasmania for a period prior to the commencement of the National Scheme. She is an experienced board member and is involved in general practice training. 

The current members of each of the state and territory medical boards can be found on the About page on our website. 

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AMA, Medical Board and Ahpra workshop

Listening and learning in annual workshop

Listening to issues from the profession and learning about regulatory improvements were on the agenda for the 2020 meeting of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Medical Board and Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra). The annual workshop is one of the important ways we stay in touch with what’s important to doctors and lets us share what we’re doing to keep improving what we do.

The August workshop focused on the impact of COVID-19 on all our work, the latest on mandatory reporting and vexatious complaints, and what Ahpra and the Board have done to improve complaints management.

Improving complaints management

We know that the notifications process is stressful for practitioners and notifiers and we are implementing a series of reforms aimed at improving and speeding up the process.

In 2020, this has included getting early input from medically qualified clinical advisors, establishing a National Committee: Assessment that meets five times a week to look at matters soon after they are lodged, and tailoring our management of notifications to the level of risk posed. The changes aim to assess and finalise low risk notifications more quickly, so resources can be focused on high risk matters. 

Mandatory notifications

We’ve introduced a mandatory reporting hotline to help callers work out if they need to make a mandatory report. Since March, we’ve had around 200 calls across all professions. Early data indicates that callers are less likely to make a report after the call because they are clearer on reporting requirements.

Read more about what was discussed at the workshop in the communiqué on our News page.

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Quarterly registration data

Latest profession-specific 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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Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Specialist medical college program of study

Provider Program Approved Expiry
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists 26 August 2020 31 December 2020

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Social research results published

We’ve published results of social research which aimed to help us understand what people think about us and how they understand our work. 

Understanding what the community, regulated health professions think and feel about us, particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust, informs how we engage with our stakeholders and identifies where we need to improve.

The results follow an anonymous 2019 survey of a random sample of registered practitioners and other people from communities across Australia. There were nearly 6,000 responses from practitioners and 2,000 from the broader community. There is an additional medicine-specific report from the survey of registered medical practitioners.

The research was managed by an independent consultant and will be repeated in 2020, with the results to be published in 2021.

The reports are available on the Medical Board website.

Podcast: Advocating for kids – a new episode on children’s health

In the latest episode of the Taking care podcast, paediatrician Professor Kim Oates discusses the changes, challenges and innovations in providing healthcare to children, including during the pandemic. 

This and other Ahpra podcasts are available on the Ahpra website. Ahpra releases a new episode every fortnight, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

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Medical regulation at work

Latest tribunal decisions have been published online

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. The following decision was published recently:

  • the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has reprimanded and disqualified a medical practitioner for harassing a fellow health practitioner (Medical Board of Australia v Lehr)

The outcome of an appeal to a tribunal of a decision to refuse registration was published recently:

  • the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has confirmed the Medical Board’s decision to refuse to grant provisional registration to a student because he does not hold an approved qualification (Nowlan 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 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 Raise a concern 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 [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