Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Public consultations underway to boost patient safety
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Public consultations underway to boost patient safety

11 Sep 2019

The consultations, launched today, are asking for people to have their say on revised guidance to help practitioners and others understand their mandatory notification obligations, understand their obligations when advertising a regulated health service and to support a responsive and risk-based approach to supervised practice.

The National Boards for the 16 regulated health professions and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) are carrying out the public consultation on revised policy guidance on three major areas to replace current guidance, including:

  • revised Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about registered health practitioners and Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about health students
  • revised Guidelines on advertising regulated health services, and
  • a proposed Supervised practice framework (not including pharmacy and psychology).

To promote these important proposed updates a national consultation process is now underway.

Guidelines for mandatory notifications

The changes to the guidelines for mandatory notifications are as a result of legislation passed by the Queensland Parliament earlier this year. The revised guidelines aim to help practitioners, employers and education providers understand whether to make a mandatory notification about a registered health practitioner.

The amendments apply to registered health practitioners in all states and territories except Western Australia and modify the reporting obligations for practitioners who are treating other registered health practitioners. These changes aim to give practitioners confidence to seek treatment for their health and wellbeing, while continuing to prevent the risk of harm to the public. In particular, the threshold for reporting by treating practitioners has been raised, which means the circumstances that would trigger a mandatory notification by a treating practitioner are more limited than in the past.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher highlights that, alongside the consultation on the revised guidelines, AHPRA and National Boards will also be developing an information campaign to explain ‘What mandatory notifications mean for you’.

‘The revised guidelines and campaign aim to clarify the mandatory notifications requirements. The campaign will encourage practitioners to seek help for their health and wellbeing when they need it and improve understanding of the purpose and relevant circumstances for mandatory notifications. The mandatory notification obligations are different for different groups, and for that reason it is important that we hear what you have to say about the revised guidelines,’ he said.

Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service

The Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service have been updated to help practitioners understand their advertising obligations under the National Law. They explain and provide guidance on these obligations with the structure and readability of the guidelines improved to make it easier to find specific information.

Supervised practice framework

The proposed Supervised practice framework aims to replace the current supervision guidelines for all professions apart from pharmacy and psychology. The framework supports improvements and consistency across professions and reinforces the range of uses of supervised practice1. The framework will be supported by fact sheets, frequently asked questions (FAQ), a supervised practice plan and report templates.

Mr Fletcher highlighted the importance of making sure regulatory tools, including guidance, are up to date and cohesive, which benefits Australian patients and the health sector.

‘The work of the National Boards and AHPRA, and the role of health practitioner regulation, is key to supporting patient safety in the Australian health system. We are updating these core documents to make sure the guidance we provide and expect others to follow is contemporary, fit for purpose and meets the expectations of the public and needs of the health system,’ Mr Fletcher said.

Want to respond? Here is how

To ensure the community, practitioners and stakeholders have the chance to respond to all three consultations the closing dates for public consultation have been staggered. All three consultations have opened today, and will close as follows:

  • Public consultation on the mandatory notifications guidelines will close on 6 November 2019.
  • Public consultation on the advertising guidelines will close on 26 November 2019.
  • Public consultation on the supervised practice framework will close on 17 December 2019.

The consultation papers are available on the Consultations page of the AHPRA website and National Board websites and feedback is invited from practitioners, other stakeholders and the community.

For further information

  • Email: [email protected].
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 8708 9009 (overseas callers).
  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200.

1It is not intended that the proposed framework would apply to some registrant groups such as international medical graduates because of the profession specific uses of supervised practice in the profession. Please see the consultation paper and draft proposed framework for further information.
Page reviewed 11/09/2019