Medical Board of Australia - September 2022

September 2022

Update Medical Board of Australia

Chair’s message 

Reform is coming to the cosmetic surgery sector, to improve practice, lift standards and promote informed consumer choice. Recent months have seen revelations of sub-standard care, terrible experiences for patients and allegations of rogue conduct in the cosmetic industry. Health Ministers have asked us to fast-track regulatory reforms and committed to fixing the industry problems outside our scope, to keep consumers safe. The pace of reform will impact on our approach. Consultation will be streamlined to fast-track action that assures public safety.

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Medical Board of Australia news

Cosmetic surgery

Reform coming to cosmetic surgery industry

Reforming regulation in the cosmetic surgery sector is our immediate priority. Everything we’re doing aims to increase public safety, improve practice, lift standards, and promote informed, safe consumer choice. Health Ministers have committed to action on wider problems in the industry and expect us to fast-track change.

If you or your patients are involved in or have experience with the cosmetic surgery industry, please read on.

We expect cosmetic surgery reforms that prioritise patient safety will come up against powerful market forces that value the status quo. The National Law requires us to prioritise patient safety. You can read more about what we’re doing to make cosmetic surgery safer on the Independent review webpage.

Very broadly, our reforms target higher practice standards, stronger enforcement (across advertising and doctors’ conduct) and better information to foster safer consumer choice.

Practice standards

Area of practice endorsement

We want to make it easier for consumers to know who is trained and qualified to do cosmetic surgery safely. The regulatory tool we’re using is an area of practice endorsement in cosmetic surgery, visible on the public register. The endorsement will show if a doctor has met clear standards in cosmetic surgery set by the Australian Medical Council and the Medical Board of Australia. The standard for the endorsement will be set in a new registration standard and in accreditation standards and graduate outcomes.

We will consult as we decide on the standard. Ministers want this work fast tracked, which will affect how and when we consult. You may have seen that debate is already fierce.

Stronger Medical Board cosmetic surgery guidelines

Stronger cosmetic surgery guidelines are coming. The current guidelines are our starting point and continue to apply for the time being. If you’re interested, we’ll be keen to hear from you when we consult on revised guidelines in the months ahead.

Calling yourself a surgeon

Australia’s Health Ministers have decided to change the National Law to restrict who can call themselves a surgeon. This will help consumers understand who is qualified to use this title.

Stronger enforcement

Advertising crackdown

We’re cracking down on advertising and social media used to promote cosmetic surgery. We will update and enforce advertising restrictions and audit social media in the cosmetic sector. We’re enforcing the ban on testimonials in cosmetics, which so often mislead consumers. We’ll be looking closely at advertising, including social media, that glamorises outcomes and trivialises risk. Advertising must be honest, factual and accurate. It should not create unreasonable expectations. Breaches will meet tougher regulatory action.

Cosmetic surgery enforcement unit

Backed by a $4.5 million investment for extra resources, Ahpra has established a Cosmetic Surgery Enforcement Unit.

Safer consumer choice

Speaking up for safety

Doctors and nurses across Australia are providing patients with much needed follow-up care and revision surgery when cosmetic surgery goes wrong. We rarely hear about the problems being fixed, which makes it hard to act quickly to keep patients safe. We’ll be in touch further about your role in reporting patient harm in the cosmetic industry, because silence allows poor practice to go unchecked and this harms patients. No doctor wants that.

Making a notification is consistent with professional conduct and your ethical responsibilities. It is the right thing to do. It is supported by the National Law that confirms that making a notification is not a breach of your professional etiquette or ethics, or a departure from accepted standards of professional conduct.

The National Law provides protection from civil, criminal and administrative liability for practitioners who make a notification in good faith.

Together, we can make cosmetic surgery safer for patients.

Cosmetic complaints hotline

A hotline for cosmetic surgery complaints is now open on 1300 361 041. A specialised team within Ahpra answers all calls during business hours. The hotline will make it safer for patients too scared to otherwise report harm. Calls can be confidential, and the line is also open to practitioners to raise concerns or share information.

We’ll also be reminding consumers that honest disclosure to regulators is legal and their right when things go seriously wrong.

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Medical Training Survey

2022 MTS closes soon

Are you a doctor in training? Join your peers and do the Medical Training Survey (MTS) before 30 September. It’s safe and confidential, so do the MTS and help shape medical training for Australia’s future doctors. Share your views and strengthen the data that is already driving change and focusing attention on the culture of medicine.

You can read more on the MTS website about past years’ results and how hospitals and others are using them to shape improvements. Learn why your colleagues have done the MTS on our social media channels.

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

If you’re an intern or an international medical graduate (IMG), look out for your unique MTS survey link in an email from the Medical Board.

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Registration renewal

Final days for medical registration renewal

Registration renewal for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is due now. Renew before 30 September 2022 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. Renewal is quick and easy online

Follow the prompts in your reminder emails from Ahpra. Information and FAQs for medical practitioners are on the Registration renewal page

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

Anyone with questions can also call us on 1300 419 495 to confirm your registration status.

If you’re a doctor in training with general registration – please do the Medical Training Survey (MTS) when you renew. Follow the MTS survey link after the workforce survey.

Fees for 2022/23

The 2022/23 registration fee is $860, and $898 in NSW. The fee schedule is available on our Fees page.

There is a late fee for applications received in October.

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

If you don’t apply to renew your registration by 31 October, 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. You can make a ‘fast-track’ application, but you can’t 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 your renewal application is finalised. The online register is updated every day and is the safest and most timely way to check a practitioner’s registration status.

If you need a copy of your registration certificate or to access your renewal tax invoice, you can print them from the Ahpra online portal after your renewal has been finalised.

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Specialist international medical graduates

Latest specialist pathway data published

The 2021 report of 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.

Updated standards for SIMG assessment – Standards: Specialist medical college assessment of specialist international medical graduates – took effect in January 2021. Under the updated standards, there is a new step in the process and a minimum period of supervised practice for all SIMGs. The updated standards replaced the previous Good practice guidelines for the specialist international medical graduate assessment process.

The data are reported in two sections – tracking applications before and after the updated standards took effect.

The 2021 data show that COVID-19 continued to affect the number of SIMGs applying for the specialist pathway and affected some college assessment timeframes.

Each specialist medical college assesses SIMGs who wish to practise 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 2021 report is published on the Board’s IMG specialist pathway page.

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Medical Board vacancies

Are you interested in joining a state or territory Medical Board?

Applications are open for medical practitioners and community members to fill vacancies on four medical boards.

Australian Capital Territory

  • three practitioner members

New South Wales

  • two practitioner members
  • one community member

South Australia

  • four practitioner members
  • one community members

Tasmania

  • five practitioner members, including the Chair
  • two community members

Applications close Sunday 30 October. More information is on Ahpra’s Statutory appointments vacancies page.

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Accreditation

Providing high quality education and training

The Board has approved the following:

Medical school program of study

Provider Program Aproved Expiry
Curtin University Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery 24 August 2022 31 March 2027
University of Newcastle and
University New England
Five-year Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine 24 August 2022 31 March 2027
Five-year Bachelor of Medicine 24 August 2022 31 March 2025
University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle) Four-year Doctor of Medicine 24 August 2022 31 March 2027

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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. Recently published decisions include

  • a WA GP who had a sexual relationship with a patient has been disqualified from practising for four years (Medical Board of Australia and Forgione)
  • a WA doctor who failed to maintain appropriate professional and sexual boundaries with a patient has been suspended for five months and had conditions imposed on his registration (Medical Board of Australia v Farah).

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.

Comments on the Board newsletter are welcome, send your feedback and suggestions 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 29/09/2022