Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Vaccine rollout support from retired practitioners
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Vaccine rollout support from retired practitioners

08 Apr 2021

Ahpra and National Boards have extended the support available from retired nurses, doctors and other registered health practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register for a further 12 months from this week. This was done in response to a request by the Australian Government.

The decision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses and pharmacists to remain on the sub-register has been made to provide additional support for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Last week, Ahpra and National Boards announced that the sub-register would start to close. This remains the case for diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists and the sub-register will close on 19 April 2021 for those professions

However, this week’s decision, which shows the effectiveness of the sub-register’s contribution to Australia’s COVID-19 pandemic response, means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses and pharmacists and will be extended from 6 April 2021 for up to 12 months. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Practitioners who are on the sub-register until 30 June 2021 will also be extended.

The sub-register was established as a temporary measure a year ago to allow health practitioners who previously held general or specialist registration and had left the Register of practitioners or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years to return to practice. Only those who are properly qualified, competent and suitable were returned to the sub-register.

‘Practitioners on the sub-register are a valued part of supporting the Australian community during the pandemic, particularly for the COVID-19 vaccination program. We acknowledge this and support the Government’s request to keep the sub-register open for up to 12 months more,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.

The request by the government supports the importance of setting up the sub-register 12 months ago.

‘So far, 1,747 health practitioners have applied for registration to move from the sub-register onto the main Register of practitioners. That, along with the extension of the sub-register, will give health departments and employers an additional workforce option to support the national vaccination program. We are pleased that the sub-register has been recognised as a valuable tool to Government in its roll out of this program,’ Mr Fletcher said.

What the sub-register extension means for practitioners

The sub-register will be extended for eligible practitioners until 5 April 2022. Practitioners who are extended on the sub-register will be limited to practice only to help with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists who were on the sub-register and did not apply to transition to the main Register of practitioners are being extended on the sub-register up to an additional 12 months.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Practitioners who are on the register until 30 June 2021 and will also be extended on the sub-register.

To stay on the sub-register, practitioners do not need to do anything and do not have to pay fees.

There is no obligation to practise or remain on the sub-register, however, if practitioners do not opt out, they may be contacted by Health Department representatives to see if they do wish to support the vaccination rollout. They can opt out for any reason and do not need to say why.

The Australian Government expects practitioners who authorise and/or administer COVID-19 vaccinations to complete additional training and be vaccinated. To find out more about the Australian Government’s Vaccine training program, go to the COVID-19 Vaccine training program page on its website.

Updated FAQ have been published to help answer any further questions that practitioners and employers may have.

Important information for practitioners

  • The pandemic response sub-register has been extended for five professions for up to 12 months after a request by the Australian Government.
  • Practitioners on the sub-register who will have their registration extended include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists.
  • Practitioners on the extended sub-register have their practice limited to supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
  • The sub-register has been a successful contribution to the COVID-19 pandemic Australian response.

About us

Ahpra works in partnership with 15 National Boards to regulate Australia’s over 800,000 registered health practitioners. Together, our primary role is to protect the public and set the standards and policies that all registered health practitioners must meet. When practitioners meet those standards, they can register once, renew yearly and practise anywhere in Australia if they keep meeting their obligations. We publish a register listing all registered health practitioners and the details of their registration, including any restrictions we’ve placed on their registration. If you, or anyone you know, has concerns about the health, conduct or performance of a registered practitioner, or think someone might be falsely claiming to be a registered practitioner, let us know.

For more information

Page reviewed 8/04/2021