24 Feb 2023
Australia’s health ministers have backed Ahpra’s blueprint to better protect patients from sexual misconduct in healthcare.
The reform includes commitments to increase public information about practitioners with a history of sexual misconduct, greater community input into decision-making and a review into the criminal history standard and its application to practitioners who have been convicted of sexual offences.
‘The bar for patient safety must be high, and it is reassuring that Australia’s health ministers are swiftly supporting the strong measures that we proposed to achieve this,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.
‘Everyone has the right to be treated only by practitioners who are fit and safe to practice, so health regulators must be better equipped to act when those rights are abused.
Recommendations agreed by Australia’s health ministers today include a number of actions Ahpra can get started on, including publishing more information on the public register when a practitioner has a proven history of sexual misconduct.
The community will also have a greater say in deciding misconduct allegations raised against practitioners through a commitment to appoint an equal number of community and practitioner members on committees deciding regulation matters.
‘We have made many improvements over the past five years, but there is always scope to do more and increasing community participation in decision-making processes is another major step. Regulatory decisions should reflect community expectations’ Mr Fletcher said.
Ahpra notes that Ministers will begin a rapid review of previous reviews, with a focus on the management of sexual misconduct matters, to report back to all health ministers.
‘More than 15 reviews have been undertaken into the operation of the regulation system, Ahpra and the National Boards over a number of years including an independent examination of the use of chaperones,’ Mr Fletcher said.
‘Some recommendations have been for Ahpra and the National Boards. Some have been for governments. Understanding which recommendations have been implemented, whether any have not been fully adopted, and identifying any gaps that are putting patients at risk is a vital process which Ahpra welcomes.’
“The bar for patient safety must be raised, and it is reassuring that Australia’s health ministers are swiftly supporting the strong measures that we proposed to achieve this,” Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.
Health Ministers’ Meeting – Communique (24 February 2023)
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