Medical Board of Australia - Information for employers

Information for employers

UPDATED 6 April 2022 — Information for employers of health practitioners on the pandemic response sub-registers

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 a 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.

Practitioners on the sub-registers are not obliged to practise. They can opt out at any time and don’t need to explain why.

Employers reminded to check the public register

As of 6 April 2022, all practitioners with temporary registration to support the COVID-19 response are on the 2021 sub-register and their registration expires on 21 September 2022. This follows the closure of the 2020 sub-register on 5 April 2022.

Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who were on the 2020 sub-register have either:

  • opted in to extend their temporary registration (to join other practitioners on the 2021 sub-register), or
  • applied to transition to the main register for ongoing registration (to renew annually), or
  • allowed their registration to expire on 5 April 2022, or
  • been returned to non-practising registration.

If a practitioner who you currently employ or who you are considering employing is not on the public register, they are not registered.

All practitioners with temporary registration until 21 September 2022 are shown as having registration on the 2021 sub-register on the Register of practitioners.

On the 2021 sub-register are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. They can practise to the full scope of their registration.

Practitioners who have applied to transition from the 2020 sub-register to the main register (Register of practitioners) can keep practising from 6 April 2022, but their registration will continue to be limited to practice for the COVID-19 response until they are advised about the outcome of their application. Once their registration on the main register has been confirmed and their details updated, they can practise to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations).

Our response to COVID-19

Ahpra and National Boards recognise health service needs may evolve as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and will keep working with state and territory and Commonwealth governments to support the COVID-19 emergency response.

This includes escalating applications for registration to the main Register of practitioners where there is workforce need due to demands created by the pandemic.

More information about the pandemic response sub-register, including up-to-date data about how many practitioners are on it, is on the pandemic response sub-register page.

On the 2021 sub-register are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. They are registered until 21 September 2022. These practitioners can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations).

If governments alert us to significant changes in need, we may add other practitioners to the 2021 sub-register in the future to help facilitate additional surge health workforce.

The Register of practitioners is available on the Ahpra website. A copy of the pandemic response sub-register has been provided to state and territory health departments to help their pandemic workforce planning.

Private employers considering employing practitioners who are on the sub-register can search for registered practitioners by surname on the Register of practitioners to check they hold registration.

On the public Register of practitioners, the practitioner's entry and a notation indicates if they are on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register.

Registration Details

2021 Pandemic response sub-register notation

The practitioner’s entry on the Register of practitioners also includes the usual registration information including the practitioner’s qualifications and type of registration. Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register have registration that ends on 21 September 2022.

In order to fast track the return of experienced and qualified health practitioners to the workforce, most registration and return to practice requirements have been waived.

Practitioners have been asked to opt-out of being on the sub-register if they:

  • are unavailable or choose to not be included in the surge health workforce
  • have a health issue which prevents them from practising safely
  • have had a change to their criminal history
  • cannot get professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place as required to practise, or
  • are unavailable or not suitable or safe to practise.

Employers must conduct appropriate pre-employment checks before employing practitioners from the sub-register.

Before employing a practitioner on the 2021 sub-register, employers need to consider:

  • conducting your own criminal history checks before employment. (Practitioners have not had to make criminal history declarations or had criminal history checks to be on the sub-register.)
  • whether adequate professional indemnity insurance arrangements are in place. (Practitioners cannot work without appropriate insurance arrangements that meet their Board’s registration standard.)
  • the health of the practitioner. (Practitioners have not had to make any declarations about their health to be on the sub-register.)

Employers who wish to employ or engage practitioners on the sub-register have a responsibility to support them to make a safe return to practice and to ensure patient safety. 

Employers should consider:

  • whether the practitioner has maintained recent skills and knowledge to carry out the role. (Practitioners have not been required to make any declarations about their recency of practice before being added to the sub-register or while on it.)
  • the practitioner’s qualifications, experience, capacity and competence to safely practise autonomously or with direct/indirect supervision
  • health service capacity to support any required supervision of the practitioner including available skill mix, model of care and staffing levels
  • the practitioner’s understanding of health service policies, procedures and clinical practice guidelines, including any necessary orientation and health service induction
  • the practitioner’s understanding of their scope of practice, accountability and reporting responsibilities. 

Employers should also have regard to the health and safety of practitioners on the sub-registers, particularly if they are in a high-risk group for COVID-19 for more severe infection.

Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register are expected to complete any training or education that’s required while employed to ensure their knowledge and skills are appropriate for the role. While compliance with the registration standard for continuing professional development is required for continuing registration, there will be no checks for compliance with the standard when the sub-register is closed or if a practitioner on a sub-register chooses to apply for registration on the main register.

The 2020 sub-register closed on 19 April 2021 for diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists.

Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register had to opt in to the 2021 sub-register before their registration expired on 5 April 2022. Alternatively, they could apply to transition to the main register or allow their registration to expire.

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists on the 2021 sub-register have registration that expires on 21 September 2022.

As an employer you have an obligation to make sure that the registered health practitioners you have employed are registered. You can look up all registered health practitioners on the Register of practitioners. The public register will show if a practitioner is on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register or if they have successfully transitioned to the main register.

Practitioners who have transitioned to the main register will have a registration expiry date aligned to the registration renewal date for their profession. Their details will no longer show them as being on the pandemic response sub-register. If a practitioner is not on the Register of practitioners, they are not registered.

 

In early 2020, as health services prepared for the expected surge in demand resulting from COVID-19, Health Ministers asked Ahpra and National Boards to enable experienced and qualified health practitioners to quickly return to practice. A pandemic response sub-register enabled those eligible practitioners to be registered if they wish, without having to fill in forms or pay fees.

Changes in health service needs resulted in temporary registration for specific professions on the 2020 sub-register ending after 12 months and other professions being extended for another 12 months at the request of the Commonwealth Health Minister. The 2020 sub-register closed on 5 April 2022.

The 2021 sub-register was established on 22 September 2021 at the request of health authorities who identified key professions to be included on it in response to increased health service needs due to the pandemic. Practitioners on the 2021 sub-register are registered until 21 September 2022.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 6/04/2022