Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Legislative changes welcomed to establish a new National Board for paramedicine and provide stronger protection for the public
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Legislative changes welcomed to establish a new National Board for paramedicine and provide stronger protection for the public

07 Sep 2017

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and National Boards welcome the passage of legislative reforms to establish the Paramedicine Board of Australia and introduce additional measures to protect the public.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 was passed yesterday by the Queensland Parliament and is expected to gain assent in the coming weeks. The amendments will apply in all States and Territories except Western Australia (South Australia also needs to make a regulation to give effect to the amendments).

We also welcome the news that the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Western Australia has passed a corresponding amendment Bill (the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (WA) Amendment Bill 2017) which will now be considered by the Legislative Council.

The passing of the Bill in Queensland marks a significant day for health practitioner regulation as these are the first legislative amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law since the start of the National Scheme1 in 2010.

The changes to the National Law will enable the Paramedicine Board of Australia to be established with the appointment of inaugural board members by Health Ministers in the near future. Also, new measures that strengthen public protection will be introduced and there will be formal recognition of nursing and midwifery as two separate professions regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

Martin Fletcher AHPRA CEO welcomed the changes the updated Queensland legislation brings and expressed confidence that the new amendments will address a number of public safety concerns.

‘The amendments to the National Law will mean extra protection for the public when they see a registered health practitioner. The changes will strengthen our management of notifications so we can better meet community expectations of regulation to ensure patient safety.’

‘We welcome these changes to the National Law and look forward to the commencement of national registration of paramedicine in 2018,’ said Mr Fletcher.

The amendments include:

  • Introduction of national regulation of paramedics: This will mean the establishment of the Paramedicine Board of Australia, with national registration of paramedics expected to commence in the second half of 2018.
  • Recognising nursing and midwifery as separate professions: The National Law will be updated to recognise the two professions as separate. There is no plan to change the structure of the NMBA or for how nurses and midwives will interact with the Board.
  • Changes to strengthen the management of complaints (notifications) and disciplinary enforcement powers of AHPRA and National Boards, including:
    1. Provision of practice information: A National Board may require a health practitioner to provide details of their practice arrangements, regardless of how they are engaged to practise. This will mean health practitioners that practise in multiple locations or under different employment, contractual or voluntary arrangements will be required under law to provide this information to their National Board when asked to do so.
    2. Public interest grounds for immediate action: Broadening the grounds by which a National Board may take immediate action against a health practitioner or student if it reasonably believes it is in the public interest.
    3. Extension of prohibition order powers: A responsible tribunal may issue a prohibition order to prohibit a person from providing any type of health service or using any protected or specified title. A breach of a prohibition order in any State or Territory will also become an offence with a maximum penalty of $30,000.
    4. Communication with notifiers: This change will improve communication for people who make a complaint or report concern to AHPRA and National Boards (notifiers) about a registered health practitioner’s health, performance or conduct. National Boards will now have the discretion to inform notifiers of a greater range of actions taken by the National Board in response to their complaint or concern and the reasons for their actions.
  • Additional powers for the COAG Health Council (formerly operating as the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council) to change the structure of National Boards: This means that Health Ministers may make changes to the structure and composition of the National Boards by regulation following consultation. There are no current proposals to change the structure of National Boards.

Decisions about proposed amendments to the National Law are made by Health Ministers and the governments of all States and Territories, with the changes progressed through the Queensland Parliament (as the host jurisdiction of the National Law), and the Western Australian Parliament. AHPRA has been working to support law makers in the process of considering amendments to the National Law.

AHPRA will work with National Boards, governments, health departments, professions and consumer representatives to support the implementation of the changes to the National Law into our daily operations.

For more information

  • Visit the AHPRA website 
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 8708 9001 (overseas callers)
  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200

1 National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

Page reviewed 7/09/2017