Information for employers

Information for employers of health practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register

National Boards and Ahpra are establishing a short-term pandemic response sub-register (the sub-register) for the next 12 months to assist with fast tracking the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners in response to COVID-19.

The information below outlines important considerations for health services and others who employ or work with health practitioners on the sub-register returning to practice.

We have summarised key issues you should consider before employing a practitioner from the sub-register in our Checklist for employers (64.4 KB,PDF).

More resources for employers and others will be published on this page as they become available.

As health services prepare for the expected surge in demand resulting from COVID-19, Health Ministers have asked Ahpra and National Boards to enable experienced and qualified health practitioners to quickly return to practice. A pandemic response sub-register enables those eligible practitioners to be registered if they wish, without having to fill in forms or pay fees. Anyone who has been added to the sub-register can opt out at any time.

The pandemic response sub-register came into effect for doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists on Monday 6 April 2020.

Eligible diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists were added to the pandemic response sub-register on Monday 20 April 2020.

Eligible practitioners are added to the pandemic sub-register automatically for a 12-month registration period. On the public Register of practitioners, there is a green flag and a notation on the practitioner’s entry, indicating they are on the pandemic response sub-register. Anyone on the sub-register can opt out at any time.

The sub-register currently includes medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists who previously held general or specialist registration and who left the Register of practitioners or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years. 

Only those that are qualified, competent and suitable should return to the register. 

The sub-register operates on an opt-out basis with practitioners added to the pandemic sub-register automatically. We have contacted all eligible practitioners. There is no obligation for anyone added to the sub-register to practise or remain on it. They can opt out at any time and for any reason.

The temporary pandemic response sub-register is intended to provide a short-term emergency health workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has initially been set up with medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists based on state and territory and Commonwealth governments’ advice about health service priorities.

We recognise health service needs are likely to evolve as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and we will keep working with state and territory and Commonwealth governments to support the COVID-19 emergency response.  

Diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists who meet the criteria were added to the sub-register on Monday 20 April 2020. 

The Register of practitioners is available on the Ahpra website and you can search for registered practitioners by surname or registration number. 

Practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register have a green flag and a notation on their entry in the Register of practitioners, indicating that they have been added to the pandemic response sub-register. 

The practitioner’s entry on the Register of practitioners also includes the usual registration information including the practitioner’s qualifications and type of registration.

In order to fast track the return of experienced and qualified health practitioners to the workforce, most registration and return to practice requirements have been waived.

Practitioners have been asked to opt-out if they:

  • have a health issue which prevents them from practising safely,
  • cannot get professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place, or
  • are unavailable or not suitable or safe to practise.

Employers must conduct appropriate pre-employment checks before employing practitioners from the sub-register.

Prior to employing a practitioner on the sub-register, employers need to consider:

  • conducting criminal history checks. Practitioners have not had to make criminal history declarations or had criminal history checks to join the sub-register. Employers should therefore consider checks prior to employment
  • whether adequate professional indemnity insurance arrangements are in place. Practitioners cannot work without appropriate insurance arrangements that meet their Board’s standard, and
  • the health of the practitioner. Practitioners have not had to make any declarations about their health to be on the sub-register.

Employers who wish to employ or engage practitioners on the sub-register have a responsibility to support them to make a safe return to practice and to ensure patient safety. 

Employers should consider:

  • the practitioner’s qualifications, experience, capacity and competence to safely practise autonomously or with direct/indirect supervision 
  • health service capacity to support any required supervision of the practitioner including available skill mix, model of care and staffing levels
  • the practitioner’s understanding of health service policies, procedures and clinical practice guidelines, including any necessary orientation and health service induction and 
  • the practitioner’s understanding of their scope of practice, accountability and reporting responsibilities. 

Employers should also have regard to the health and safety of practitioners on the sub-register, particularly if they in a high-risk group for COVID-19 for more severe infection.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 23/04/2020