Medical Board of Australia - September 2023
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September 2023

News for medical practitioners

In this month's issue:

Chair's message

The Medical Training Survey is open now. The annual survey takes the direct experience of doctors in training and converts it into reliable, publicly available data that is already being used to improve training. Supporting trainee participation in the MTS, and applying the results to improve training, is the best way we can all help ensure medical training in Australia keeps producing doctors who are among the best in the world.

Dr Anne Tonkin AO
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

Medical Board of Australia news

Renew your registration online now

You can apply online now to renew your medical registration (general, specialist and non-practising registration). If you have given Ahpra your email address, we have emailed the first reminder. Renewal is online only. Payments can be made by credit or debit card.

The 2023/24 registration fee is $995, and $930 in NSW. More information is on the Fees page.

There are FAQs for medical practitioners on the Medical Board website and more information on the Ahpra renewal page.

Doctors in training with general registration can do the Medical Training Survey (MTS) when they renew. Follow the MTS survey link after the workforce survey. Interns and international medical graduates (IMGs), please follow the MTS link in your email from us to do the survey.

Registration renewal due dates

Registration renewal for medical practitioners with general, specialist and non-practising registration is due by 30 September 2023. A late payment fee is due on applications received in October.

If you do not apply to renew your registration by the end of 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. A ‘fast-track’ application can be made, but you cannot practise until it is processed and the national register is updated. This can take time and will affect your ability to practise medicine in the meantime.

Download your registration certificate and tax invoice

Your registration details will be updated on the 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 your registration details.

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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team

There is a new team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors through the renewal process, and graduates through the application process. If you have a question regarding the process, or an enquiry relating to Ahpra, please reach out to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team.

Medical Training Survey is on now

Inviting all doctors in training to do the Medical Training Survey (MTS) – it’s open now!

If you’re an intern, IMG, prevocational or unaccredited trainee, or a specialist trainee, you can pay it forward to future trainees by doing the 2023 MTS. Your feedback will shape improvements to medical training.

Do the MTS when you renew your registration. If you’re an intern or an international medical graduate (IMG), check your email inbox for your invitation to do the MTS.

After three years, we have retired questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and are asking instead about your access to flexible work arrangements.

Evidence links flexible work and training with a boost to equal opportunity, an increase in workforce diversity and high-quality patient care and medical training.

Given the serious challenges MTS results have exposed in the culture of medicine, we’re keen to generate data that can be used in future to support positive cultural change.

The MTS is a longitudinal study that tracks the quality of medical training over time. Stringent privacy controls make it safe and confidential for trainees to take part. The MTS is run by the Medical Board of Australia.

MTS results are collated, published online and can be accessed by anyone. Results of past surveys are driving changes in training that help make sure that Australia’s doctors stay among the best in the world.

Year on year, MTS results form a robust evidence base being used by educators, employers and other health sector agencies to continuously improve training.

Visit the MTS website to see how stakeholders are using the data to drive positive change in medical training.

Check out our social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn) to learn why doctors in training are doing the MTS.

Revised telehealth guidelines now in effect

Revised telehealth guidelines – effective since 1 September 2023 – raise standards and protect patients.

Under the guidelines:

  • telehealth consultations continue as an important feature of healthcare in Australia
  • real-time doctor-patient consultations remain key to safe prescribing
  • providing healthcare, including prescribing, via questionnaire-based asynchronous web-based tools in the absence of a real-time patient-doctor consultation is not good practice.

The guidelines detail what the Board expects of doctors when they have telehealth consultations with patients. They cover practice before and during a consultation; follow-up and record keeping and international telehealth. There is a specific section on prescribing or providing healthcare if a doctor has never had a real-time consultation with a patient.

The interaction between a patient and a doctor is the foundation of any consultation. Providing healthcare, including prescribing, ordering tests and issuing certificates, relies on a doctor’s skill and judgement, including what is safe and appropriate based on a patient’s history.

The guidelines close the gap that’s sprung up between online prescribing business models and good medical practice.

See the news item for further information. The revised telehealth guidelines are on the Medical Board website.

Spotlight coming to non-surgical cosmetic procedures

Change has come to the cosmetic surgery industry. Next in the spotlight are non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

We’ll be consulting soon on new draft advertising guidelines for non-surgical cosmetic procedures. These will apply to anyone advertising these procedures, including medical practitioners, nurses and dentists. Much like the Medical Board’s new cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines – now in place – these advertising guidelines will take a closer look at ‘before and after’ images, claims about expertise and qualifications and the ban on the use of testimonials. The use of social media influencers is also a focus.

New practice guidelines for health practitioners (other than doctors) performing non-surgical cosmetic procedures – including nurses and dentists – are also on the way. The proposed guidelines won’t apply to doctors, who are already working to new Medical Board cosmetic practice guidelines that came into effect on 1 July 2023. We’re letting you know because many cosmetic doctors work with practitioners from other professions.

Keep an eye out for the consultation in the next few months and tell us what you think about the proposed guidance. We expect the new guidance will apply in the first half of 2024.

We’ll share updates, including on the timing of the consultation, in upcoming Medical Board newsletters and on the Ahpra consultation page.

You can also read about the impact of the cosmetic surgery reforms, one year on from the cosmetic surgery review.

CPD in 2024

Doctors will need a continuing professional development (CPD) home in 2024. The Board’s revised CPD registration standard takes effect in full from 1 January 2024, bringing in a range of changes to CPD designed to make ongoing professional development more flexible and useful to doctors.

From January 2024, all doctors will need to meet the 2023 registration standard (unless they are exempt). As well as having a CPD home, this means:

  • having a professional development plan
  • completing a mix of CPD that best suits their practice, made up of:
    • 25 hours - reviewing performance and measuring outcomes with a minimum five hours of each type
    • 12.5 hours - traditional learning or educational activities such as reading, lectures, conferences, etc,
    • 12.5 hours -  free choice of activities of any type.

The changes aim to bring more flexibility and value to doctors’ continuing professional development. It isn’t 50 new hours of CPD, because under the changes, doctors are able to count a lot of the things they already do every day at work towards their CPD. Clinically relevant corridor chats, practice/team meetings, practice management, case conferences, teaching/supervision, incident reporting and professional reading are all legitimate CPD activities. No longer is CPD restricted to accredited activities.

Information about CPD homes, including a list of currently accredited CPD homes, is on the Board’s website. As new CPD homes are accredited they will be published on this page.

FAQs on the 2023 CPD requirements are on the Board’s website.

PGY2 CPD arrangements for 2024

2024 PGY2s do not need to enrol with a CPD home if they are:

  • participating in a PGY2 training program accredited by the state or territory postgraduate medical council (or equivalent), and/or
  • working in supervised clinical practice positions in a hospital or general practice setting.

If this applies to you, you will be deemed to have met the standard for CPD by participating in your position and any associated education.

If you are working independently or working outside supervised practice positions in hospitals and general practices, you will need to have a CPD home from 2024 and meet the requirements of the Board’s CPD registration standard.

CPD requirements for doctors returning to practice

The Board has clarified requirements for practitioners returning to practice after an absence of 12 to 36 months. When you return to practice, you will need to meet the Board’s Recency of practice registration standard.

If you’ve been out of practice for between 12 months and 36 months (inclusive), with non-practising registration or without registration, then before restarting practice you will need to complete the equivalent of one year’s continuing professional development (CPD) activities, relevant to your intended scope of practice. The CPD activities must be designed to maintain and update your knowledge and clinical judgment.

With recent changes to CPD, practising doctors need to do activities across three areas: education, reviewing performance and measuring outcomes. The Board recognises that doctors who have not been in recent practice can’t review their performance or measure their outcomes. For return to practice arrangements, practitioners can complete 50 hours of CPD educational activities to be considered to have met the standard.

Are you interested in joining the Queensland or ACT Medical Board?

Apply now! There are vacancies for registered medical practitioners and community members on the ACT and Queensland Boards of the Medical Board of Australia.

Applications close 1 October 2023.

To apply and for more information see Ahpra’s Statutory appointments page.


Public consultation on two further possible changes to English language skills requirements

Have your say on two further possible changes to the Board’s English language skills requirements.

There was broad stakeholder support for proposed changes to the English language registration standard when we consulted on it in mid-2022.

We now want to hear your views on two further possible changes to the English language skills requirements: expanding the range of recognised countries and a possible change to one element of the English test results accepted by National Boards.

These two new possible changes were recommended in the Independent review of overseas health practitioner regulatory settings (the Kruk review) interim report endorsed by the National Cabinet in April 2023.

The four-week consultation closes on 13 September. More information is on our Consultations page.

News and alerts

Inviting all IMGs: share your experience of the IMG assessment process

IMGs are invited to participate in an Australian Medical Council (AMC) survey about their path to working as a doctor in Australia. Responses will help improve and streamline assessment processes.

The survey is optional and anonymous. More information and a link to the survey is on the AMC website.

Invitation to locums and other doctors: understanding the role of locum doctors in the Australian medical workforce

The Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care is undertaking work to better understand the role of locums in the medical workforce, as part of the National Medical Workforce Strategy.

As part of this project there is a survey, to better understand the locum workforce profile, challenges, and opportunities for a sustainable medical workforce.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes and can be accessed via the locum survey link. It closes on 15 September 2023.

New podcast episodes – workforce and overseas practitioners

Ahpra releases regular episodes of the Taking care podcast, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. Listen and subscribe by searching for ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on our website.

Our latest episode is called ‘Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners’. It examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.

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 Victorian medical practitioner has been reprimanded and disqualified from applying for registration for 16 years following a criminal conviction for multiple sexual assaults (Medical Board of Australia v XOT)
  • a Western Australian general practitioner has been suspended for inappropriate prescribing and failure to make adequate clinical notes and management plans (Medical Board of Australia and Singh).

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 Concerned about a health practitioner? page.

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 AO, 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 [email protected].

For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the Ahpra customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).

Page reviewed 23/04/2024