Medical Board of Australia - Pandemic response sub-register

Pandemic response sub-register

Updated 1 August 2022

Responding to COVID-19 remains an important focus for Australian Governments and the community. Registered health practitioners are playing a vital role in supporting the vaccination rollout and in providing healthcare across various settings.

Ahpra and the National Boards are supporting the COVID-19 response by helping provide access to a potential surge workforce when the healthcare system is experiencing changing demands due to outbreaks of COVID-19 variants. These practitioners are registered on the temporary pandemic response sub-register (the 2021 sub-register) and are included on the national Register of practitioners.

The 2020 sub-register is closed

The registration of medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register expired at midnight on 5 April 2022. As a result, the 2020 sub-register closed on 5 April 2022.

Practitioners who were on the 2020 sub-register have done one of the following:

  • opted in to be on the 2021 sub-register so their registration is extended to expire at midnight on 21 September 2022
  • formally applied for registration on the main register using a transition pathway, or
  • allowed their registration to expire (these practitioners can no longer practise from 6 April 2022).

Practitioners who had non-practising registration before being on the 2020 sub-register have been returned to that registration type on the main register (Register of practitioners) unless they have applied for general registration.

Important information for practitioners who were on the 2020 sub-register

If you did not hold non-practising registration before being on the 2020 sub-register and did not contact us before your registration expired, you are no longer registered. You must apply for registration through the standard process with the relevant National Board.

If you opted in to extend your temporary registration and move to the 2021 sub-register, you are now registered to practise to the full scope of your registration (subject to any notations) from 6 April 2022 until midnight on 21 September 2022.

If you applied to transition to the main register you can keep practising from 6 April 2022. However, your registration will continue to be limited to practice for the COVID-19 response until you are advised about the outcome of your application. Once you have transitioned to the main register and your registration details have been updated, you can practise to the full scope of your registration (subject to any notations).

For more, go to Information for practitioners

A snapshot of the 2021 pandemic response sub-register 

2021 Pandemic response subregister table

Two temporary pandemic response sub-registers were established in April 2020 and September 2021 on an opt-out basis with eligible practitioners added to the pandemic response sub-register automatically. Only eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners needed to choose to opt in (to the 2021 sub-register only). Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register had to opt in to being on the 2021 sub-register before the 2020 sub-register was closed on 5 April 2022.

There is now one pandemic response sub-register (the 2021 sub-register) and all practitioners on it have registration expiring at midnight on 21 September 2022. The names of practitioners who have temporary registration will be removed from the Register of practitioners on 21 September 2022, unless the 2021 sub-register is extended in support of the COVID-19 response.

Only those who are properly qualified, competent and suitable should be on the sub-register. Practitioners who are in a high-risk category for COVID-19 should only work in a safe practice environment. There is no obligation for practitioners on the sub-register to practise. They can opt out at any time by emailing pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au and don’t need to explain why.

Practitioners who choose to stay on the pandemic response sub-register and go back to work, must comply with their profession’s Code of conduct, professional indemnity insurance requirements and work within the scope of practice as allowed by the notation on their registration.

More information, including FAQs, is available for practitioners and employers:

We expect practitioners on the temporary sub-register to tell us under section 130 of the National Law, within seven days of becoming aware of a relevant event or change in status in relation to the events outlined in the NOCE-00 form.

Current 2021 pandemic response sub-register practitioners

As of 1 August 2022, there are 20,755 dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register.

Profession  ACT NSW  NT  QLD  SA  TAS  VIC  WA  Unk  Total
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner    9 2       6   20
Dental practitioner 8 89  6 55 34 4 73 28 3 300 
Medical practitioner 25 397 12 263  129  44 346 148  9 1,373 
Medical Radiation Practitioner 73   50 13  59 19  228
Nurse 246  4,276 125 3,233  1,446 352 3,925 1,558 173 15,334
Midwife 42 526 21  406 175 46 444 167 7 1,834
Occupational therapist 9 79 2 26 17  6 48 40 3 230
Optometrist 1   11   2   35 
Pharmacist 230  2 126  52  11  149 60  4 639
Physiotherapist 95 1 52 23 10 79  39  316
Podiatrist   26    17  6   18 4 72 
Psychologist 14  129 2 57  26  7 94 48   376
Total 365  5,936  174 4,297 1,925 484 5,242 2,119 213 

20,755

Background to the pandemic response sub-register

A temporary pandemic response sub-register was established for up to 12 months in April 2020 (the 2020 sub-register) to help fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners.

In early April 2021, the Commonwealth Health Minister requested that medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners be extended to stay on the sub-register for up to 12 months (to 5 April 2022) to help with the COVID-19 vaccination program only.

The sub-register closed on 19 April 2021 for other professions including psychology, physiotherapy and diagnostic radiography. Practitioners from these professions who were on the sub-register were able to apply for ongoing registration through a transition pathway before the sub-register closed. Those who did not apply have either expired registration or returned to non-practising registration and cannot practise.

On 8 September 2021, the registration of practitioners on the 2020 sub-register was changed so they could work in any area supporting the COVID-19 response. This followed a request from states and territories to provide additional surge health workforce in response to significant changes in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 22 September 2021, Ahpra and the National Boards established a new sub-register (the 2021 sub-register), enabling practitioners from 12 regulated health professions to return to practice for up to 12 months. They can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations).

The 2020 sub-register closed on 5 April 2022. Practitioners were either returned to their registration status before being put on the sub-register (back to non-practising registration or were not registered), opted in to extend their temporary registration and be on the 2021 sub-register or applied to transition to the main register.

 

Pandemic Sub Register timeline

 
 
Page reviewed 2/08/2022