18 Dec 2018
Governments recently consulted on possible changes to the National Law , which would allow the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and National Boards to publish on the online Register of practitioners, the names that registered health practitioners use in practice and not just their legal name.
The national online Register of practitioners is a vital part of Australia’s system of regulating health practitioners to support patient safety. Each registered health profession publishes registration information about practitioners on the online register.
The public and employers can look up the names of all health practitioners who are registered to practise. The register also provides important information about limits or restrictions placed on the way a registered health practitioner is allowed to practise.
The national online register must remain an authoritative and trusted source of information about health practitioners. Consumers rely on it for accurate and up to date information to inform their healthcare decision-making and employers rely on them to validate their employees’ registration status.
It is a fact that some health practitioners practise their profession using a name that is different from their legally recognised name published on the register (an alias).
AHPRA has asked governments to consider changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law) that would enable registered health practitioners to nominate one or more aliases to be recorded on the public register. Governments recently consulted on this, among a range of other possible amendments to the National Law.
AHPRA believes that recording additional names (or aliases) on the register will help to inform and protect the public, by making it easier to identify a practitioner who may be registered and able to practise but who is not using their legal name.
There are some operational and practical issues that will need to be considered if governments make this change. A clear definition of an ‘alias’ is required, so practitioners’ reporting obligations to AHPRA and National Boards are clear. AHPRA and National Boards will need to consider what information practitioners will need to provide about their use of aliases in practice and whether any verification of this will be necessary to protect the validity of the register. Finally, there may be risks of unintended consequences - including whether publishing aliases could be used for commercial gain or benefits that are not related to public information and protection, which is the focus of the National Law.
AHPRA and National Boards will keep practitioners and the public informed of any changes to the law and reporting requirements.