Immediate action is an interim action that a National Board can take at any time to restrict a health practitioner’s ability to practise if it believes this is necessary to protect the public.
Taking immediate action is a serious step that a National Board can only take when it forms a reasonable belief there may be a serious risk to people and it is necessary to take action immediately to protect the public.
A National Board can take immediate action by:
The implications of immediate action taken by a National Board on a health practitioner may be significant, and the public register of health practitioners may be updated to reflect the action taken by the National Board. If you are the subject of an immediate action, you should contact your insurer or legal adviser. You may also choose to contact your professional association.
Further information about support services for registered health practitioners is available on this website.
When a National Board proposes to take immediate action, a ‘show cause’ process is involved. This means that before the National Board decides whether to take immediate action, it must give the health practitioner:
A practitioner can choose to provide a submission or to make no submission. If a practitioner wants to make a submission, they can do this in writing or verbally or both. The Board will take into account all of the submissions from the practitioner before making a decision.
The immediate action process can happen very quickly and the timelines for each immediate action process will vary. The process may take a number of days, or as little as a few hours in some circumstances, taking into account the nature of the complaint made or concerns raised, and the risk to public health or safety the National Board perceives at that time. AHPRA and the National Boards encourage practitioners to speak with their insurer or legal adviser as early as possible to help them during this process.
You can find more information about how the process works and what you need to provide in our Guide for practitioners.
The National Board will consider all available and relevant information available to it before deciding whether it needs to take immediate action. This information can include:
In making a decision to take immediate action, a National Board must consider any submission made by a practitioner and weigh up all of the relevant evidence presented to it.
Each immediate action process will be different depending on the circumstances of that matter. However, as a health practitioner, you can generally expect the following to happen:
The decision to take immediate action takes effect either on the date the National Board gives notice of the decision to the practitioner or student, or on the day stated in the notice.
Generally, the practitioner will be given notice of the immediate action on the same day the Board made its decision. The public register will usually be updated with the details of the Board’s decision on the same day or shortly thereafter.
The Board’s decision to take immediate action continues to have effect until:
The following is a list of some of the common issues that are often referred for consideration of immediate action.
Written notice is given to the practitioner of the Board’s decision and the reasons for its decision. The National Board must also decide what other action needs to be taken while the immediate action decision is in place. This can include:
The practitioner’s entry on the public register will be updated to reflect the immediate action taken. The National Board will take into consideration the protection of the practitioner’s privacy when deciding whether to update the public register to reflect any immediate action.
At the time it decides to take immediate action, the National Board will also decide what further action needs to be taken because of the issues raised by the immediate action process.
You can appeal many of the decisions of a National Board. A practitioner (or student) who has been suspended, or has a condition imposed on their registration because of immediate action can appeal to a responsible tribunal. Learn more about how you may appeal a Board decision.
A decision by the National Board to accept an undertaking you proffer cannot be appealed. This is because the Board has received and accepted the proposal submitted by the practitioner in the first instance.
The notice given to the practitioner of the decision to take immediate action will set out how a practitioner can appeal a decision to take immediate action.
The National Boards encourage practitioners to seek legal representation or contact their professional indemnity insurer as early as possible to help them if they wish to appeal a decision.