Ahpra 2019/20 annual report: regulating during a pandemic

12 Nov 2020

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) today released its 2019/20 annual report highlighting our regulatory work with National Boards and our response to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘2020 has shown us all how much we rely on health practitioners at the frontline to keep us all safe,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.

‘We acknowledge and thank all health practitioners who have responded with such professionalism and commitment to keep us safe.’

Ahpra and National Boards have worked closely with accreditation authorities, governments and our partners to ensure we play our part fully in supporting these health practitioners and the wider health system response to COVID-19.

2020 marked the tenth year of national registration. Australia now has more than 800,000 registered health practitioners. This figure includes around 35,000 recently retired health practitioners in eight professions who were returned to registration as part of our pandemic sub-register to support the health system response to COVID-19.

Regulation can never stand still. COVID-19 meant that Ahpra became a virtual organisation within weeks. We also worked with National Boards to introduce many changes to allow our regulatory work to continue and provided flexibility where it was safe. This included updated guidance about issues such as telehealth services, scope of practice and CPD requirements.

Maintaining public safety remained paramount across all of our regulatory work. We implemented changes to the National Law on mandatory reporting, initiated an independent review of our management of sexual boundary notifications and continued our work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners to eliminate racism from the health system and ensure cultural safety. 

Insights from the year include:

  • There were 801,659 registered health practitioners across 16 regulated professions, an increase of 7.7% on last year. This includes 35,000 health practitioners on the temporary pandemic sub-register.
  • Between 17 March and 30 June, the COVID-19 portal on the Ahpra website received over 158,000 unique page views. The updates page attracted over 115,000 (unique) views, the FAQs page over 82,000, and the pandemic sub-register over 60,000.
  • More than 82, 500 applications for registration were finalised, including over 29,000 applications from new graduates. We halved the median time to finalise an application.
  • The largest growth in registrants was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners +17.7%, paramedics +14.5% and midwives +10.2%.
  • Over 1 million searches of the national online Register of practitioners were conducted.
  • The National Scheme accredited over 850 approved programs of study delivered by more than 130 education providers.
  • More than 193,000 students were studying to be a registered health practitioner and form part of our student register.
  • Ahpra received more notifications in 2019/20 than in any other year (10,236), an increase of 9.6%. We closed more notifications than previous years. Keeping up with the year-on-year increase in notifications is a challenge and requires continued innovation. 
  • While the number of notifications is increasing the overall percentage of health practitioners with a notification stayed around the same level (1.6–1.7%). 
  • The top three reasons for a notification were clinical care (43.5%), medication issues (9.9%) and communication (7.2%). 
  • 132 matters about professional misconduct were determined by tribunals: 100% resulted in disciplinary action.
  • Ahpra received 412 new offence complaints relating to title protection and 584 complaints about advertising. 
  • Ahpra completed 11 proceedings in the Magistrates’ and Local Courts. All prosecutions resulted in guilty findings.                                                                                                                   

To view and download the 2019/20 annual report, visit the Ahpra website

For further information

  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200.
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 9285 3010 (overseas callers).
 
 
Page reviewed 12/11/2020