Register changes improve consumer access to public information

26 Mar 2018

The Medical Board of Australia, supported by AHPRA, has implemented the final recommendation of the Chaperone Review.

The Medical Board of Australia, supported by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), has today implemented the final recommendation of the Chaperone Review and added to the information published on the national online Register of practitioners.

In August 2016, the Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA commissioned an independent review of the use of chaperone conditions as a regulatory tool to manage allegations of sexual misconduct.

In March 2017, AHPRA and the Board committed to making wide-ranging reforms to their management of sexual misconduct cases, as recommended by independent reviewer Professor Ron Paterson in the chaperone review report.

Reforms included:

  • introducing a national committee backed by specialist investigators to handle all sexual misconduct allegations
  • changing the Board’s policy on the use of chaperones, and
  • auditing all cases where chaperone conditions have been previously applied.

We have now implemented all Professor Paterson’s recommendations by including links from individual medical practitioner listings on the national online register of practitioners to published disciplinary (tribunal and court) decisions.

‘Good medical practice is all about a partnership between doctors and their patients, based on trust. This change will give patients better access to public information about doctors who have been involved in disciplinary action, so they can make more informed decisions about their care,’ said Dr Joanna Flynn AM, Chair of the Medical Board of Australia.

‘It’s good to see all the actions I called for to better protect patients are now in place,’ said independent reviewer Professor Ron Paterson.

‘Putting links to published disciplinary decisions and court rulings on the online register will enable concerned patients to check relevant information for themselves. Patients and the public will be better informed and protected by these changes to the management of sexual misconduct cases.’

The national online Register of practitioners contains accurate, up to date information about the registration status of all 678, 938 registered health practitioners in Australia. It is an important way the National Scheme helps keep the public safe.

The register will now display links to externally published court and tribunal decisions about individual registered medical practitioners who have been involved in disciplinary action with the Medical Board of Australia or AHPRA, when the decisions are public but not when suppression orders are in place.

There are now live links on the register to disciplinary decisions involving medical practitioners that have been made since February 2017 to now. Over the next year, links to relevant court and tribunal decisions about medical practitioners dating back to the start of the National Scheme in 2010 will be added. New decisions will be added as they are received.

‘This change will not affect the vast majority of doctors who routinely provide high quality, safe care to their patients. But it will give the community easier access to information that is already public, so they can make an informed decision about their medical care,’ said AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher.

Background

  • In August 2016, the Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA commissioned the independent chaperone review to consider whether, and if so in what circumstances, it is appropriate to impose a chaperone condition on the registration of a health practitioner to protect patients while allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated.
  • It has been common practice for regulators around the world to use chaperone conditions in this way. Chaperone conditions have also been imposed as a protective measure at the end of a disciplinary process.
  • The review was triggered by the concerns of patients whose doctors abused their trust.
  • The chaperone review report was publicly released on 11 April 2017. It found the use of chaperones does not meet community expectations and does not always keep patients safe.
  • The Medical Board of Australia and AHPRA accepted the 28 recommendations in full.

Are all the recommendations from the chaperone report now implemented?

Yes. All recommendations are now being implemented. In addition to the update to the Register of practitioners, progress since the last update includes:

  • auditing all cases where chaperone conditions apply
  • the Medical Board of Australia has established a national committee charged with the responsibility of decision-making in all cases where sexual boundary violation is alleged
  • changing the standard wording and compliance protocols that would apply in the event that a practice monitor was required to be used in the future
  • establishing a team of specialist investigators within AHPRA
  • establishing a new national compliance team that specialises in monitoring practitioners with conditions related to allegations of sexual misconduct
  • providing specialist training to committee members and staff to support them to do their work
  • we have written to all police departments across Australia and discussions continue to establish clear inter-agency protocols. A dedicated senior legal officer is managing information disclosure to and relationships with police jurisdictions across Australia, and
  • the National Restrictions Library has been updated to include a new gender-based restriction and related protocol.

For further information

 
 
Page reviewed 26/03/2018