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A National Board may need a practitioner to undergo a health assessment if it reasonably believes that they have, or may have an impairment.
A health assessment can include medical, physical, psychiatric or psychological examinations or tests to determine whether the person has an impairment.
An impairment is defined as a ‘physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence) that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect a practitioner’s ability to practise their profession. For students, the impairment would, or be likely to, affect their capacity to carry out clinical training.
There is a guide to health assessments that is intended to help health practitioners who need to undergo a health assessment. Practitioners can also contact AHPRA and request a copy of the guide.
We acknowledge that many health practitioners may have health issues that do not impact on their ability to practise their profession safely. The existence of a health issue does not automatically mean you have a health impairment, or that you will need to undergo a health assessment.
A National Board may need a registered health practitioner to undergo a health assessment after receiving information that suggests the practitioner might have an impairment that could present a risk to patients or the public. This information may come from the practitioner themselves or another person.
Whether a health assessment is needed will depend on the nature of the information we receive. For example, a practitioner with a well-managed condition, which otherwise would affect their capacity to practise safely, who demonstrates insight into their condition and complies with recommended treatment, is unlikely to place the public at risk.
Alternatively, a practitioner with a similar illness, who lacks insight and/or refuses to comply with treatment recommendations, may pose a risk and a health assessment may be needed.
If a practitioner needs to undergo a health assessment they will receive written notice of the scheduled date, time, address of the assessment and the name of the health assessors.
This notice will contain the name and details of the AHPRA officer who can be contacted to answer any questions or provide further information about the health assessment.
The health assessment is carried out by health practitioners, selected by the National Board, with expertise in an area of practice.
There can be no conflict of interest between the practitioner being assessed and the assessor. The practitioner and the assessor will be asked to confirm that they have no financial, personal or professional relationship before the health assessment.
The National Board may need a practitioner to see more than one health assessor. If this is necessary, the practitioner will be advised. If the concern made about the practitioner identifies possible substance abuse issues (for example, alcoholism or drug abuse) or loss of intellectual functions, they may need to undergo further testing before the health assessment, such as drug screening or neuropsychological testing. AHPRA will advise the practitioner if they do need to attend for any additional testing before the health assessment.
If the complaint or concern made about the practitioner identifies possible substance abuse issues (for example, alcoholism or drug abuse) or loss of intellectual functions, they may need to undergo further testing before the health assessment, such as drug screening or neuropsychological testing. AHPRA will advise the practitioner if they do need to attend for any additional testing before the health assessment.
The health assessment will usually take place in the closest capital city. When possible, AHPRA will try to schedule an assessment close to the practitioner’s main place of work (principal place of practice) or their residence. Appointments are subject to the availability of appropriate practitioners to perform the assessment.
Practitioners can contact the AHPRA officer assigned to their case if they need help with transport or accommodation.
Before the health assessment, AHPRA will ask the health practitioner to nominate a treating practitioner to receive their health assessment report.
It is important for health practitioners who need to undergo a health assessment to nominate a treating practitioner they are comfortable with, trust and are able to discuss the report with.
The information provided and structure of the health assessment report depends on the health assessor and the information requested by the National Board. The report may include the following information:
Yes. After the health practitioner has received the report from their health assessment they are invited to meet with a member of a National Board (or a representative) to discuss the report. An AHPRA officer will also attend this meeting.
This meeting is to provides an opportunity for the practitioner to respond to the assessor’s findings and to discuss any recommendations made in the report.
The meeting does not generally last more than one hour, but the AHPRA officer will allow for 90 minutes so that all parties have the opportunity to discuss the outcomes.
The AHPRA officer may take notes during the meeting and these notes will be provided to the National Board with the report from the health assessor and any submission made by the practitioner.
We recognise this process can be difficult and some people may find it hard to express their views or feelings. Practitioners are welcome to bring a written submission to the meeting that can also be provided to the National Board with the notes of the meeting and the health assessor’s report. Practitioners may also bring someone with them for support, including a legal representative.
There are support services available to provide additional help to practitioners.
As a result of a health assessment a National Board may decide to take one or more actions based on the allegations, facts and evidence:
Practitioners are encouraged to speak with the assigned AHPRA officer for further information about the health assessment process. The AHPRA officer’s contact details will be included in the notice of the health assessment.
Find more information about the support services available to practitioners.
There is also a guide to health assessments that is intended to help health practitioners who need to undergo a health assessment.