Information for practitioners

Information for practitioners about the pandemic response sub-register 

National Boards and Ahpra have established a short-term pandemic response 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.

If you are interested and have capacity to return to practise you are encouraged to see if you can assist. Links to work opportunities in each state and territory are available on the COVID-19 health workforce page. 

We have summarised key issues you should consider before returning to practice in our Checklist for practitioners (64.4 KB,PDF).

Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners can be found in this flyer (154 KB,PDF)

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 health 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 sub-register came into effect on Monday 6 April 2020. If you currently have non-practising registration or are not registered, you cannot start practising until your name appears on the sub-register and you have professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place.

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.

Doctors, nurses, midwives,  pharmacists, diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists, psychologists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners who previously held general or specialist registration and left the Register of practitioners or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years have been put on the new pandemic response sub-register. 

Only those that are properly qualified, competent and suitable will be returned to the register.  We have contacted all eligible practitioners. If you don’t want to be on the sub-register, you can opt out.

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. Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners were added on 1 July 2020.

The pandemic response sub-register is for medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners who:

  • previously held general or specialist registration, and 
  • left the Register of practitioners or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years. 

Practitioners who had a condition or undertaking when they last held general or specialist registration and practitioners who had a notification (complaint) when they moved to non-practising registration or their registration lapsed, are not eligible for registration on the pandemic response sub-register. 

We have only added eligible practitioners who also have an Australian address and email contact on file and whose last principal place of practice was in Australia. If you are now in Australia, are eligible and want to return to practise, but have not been included because your contact details have changed since you were last registered, please email pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au and let us know. 

If you have not received an email from us but you think you are eligible and you want to return to practice, email pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au and we will check for you.

The pandemic response sub-register is for medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners who:

  • previously held general or specialist registration, and 
  • left the Register of practitioners or moved to non-practising registration in the past three years. 

Only those who are properly qualified, competent and suitable should be on the sub-register. 

If you have not received an email from us but you think you are eligible and you want to return to practice, email pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au and we will check for you.

We appreciate all the health practitioners who have offered to help in these unprecedented times. If it's more than three years since you held practising registration you will need to apply for registration by submitting the relevant form and you will need to meet the usual return to practice requirements, including recency of practice. Recency of practice is one of the ways we ensure that practitioners are safe and competent to practise. Our registration teams will work to process COVID-19 related registration applications as quickly as possible.

Returning to practice during this pandemic carries risk for practitioners, particularly for those who are older and at greater risk of more serious infection. Each practitioner considering returning to practice should take this risk into consideration when deciding whether to return to practice.

No, it’s absolutely your choice. We just wanted to help practitioners who want to return to practise, to do so quickly, without having to fill in application forms.

However, we expect you to opt out if you: 

  • have a health issue which prevents you from practising safely 
  • cannot get the required professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place
  • have had a change to your criminal history, or 
  • if you are unavailable or are not suitable or safe to practise (but remember, you don’t need to tell us why you are opting out).

You can opt out and ask to be removed from the pandemic response sub-register. In the email we sent you about the sub-register, click the opt out link. You don’t need to tell us why.  

Or you can email us at pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au to let us know that you want to opt out. It may take a few days to process the request, but even if your name is still on the sub-register that doesn’t mean you have to work.

You can opt out and ask to be removed from the pandemic response sub-register at any time. In the email we sent you about the sub-register, click the opt out link. You don’t need to tell us why.  

Or you can email us at pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au to let us know that you want to opt out. It may take a few days to process the request, but even if your name is still on the sub-register that doesn’t mean you have to work.

If you click the opt out link in the email we sent you, your name will be removed from the sub-register the same day. 

If you previously had non-practising registration, your entry on the register showing non-practising registration will be restored the next day.

If you emailed us at pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au to opt out, it will take a few days to process your request and update the register. Even if your name is still on the sub-register that doesn’t mean you have to work.

Yes, just email us at pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au and confirm that you had opted out but that you do want to be on the pandemic response sub-register. It will take a few days to process your request. If you currently have non-practising registration or are currently not registered, you cannot start practising until your name appears on the sub-register and you have professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place.

No, application and registration fees have been waived for practitioners on the pandemic sub-register.

You don’t need to fill in any forms. All eligible practitioners have been automatically added to the pandemic response sub-register (unless they opted out). If your contact details or principal place of practice have changed please login to the Ahpra online services to update your details once your name appears on the sub-register.

No, to streamline the process, these requirements have been waived. You do not have to meet the usual return to practice requirements such as the English language standard, continuing professional development and recency of practice. 

You do need to have appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place if you want to practise. Your employer may organise this for you or you may need to contact your insurer. 

No, you don’t need to do any English language tests or criminal history or health checks.

However, we expect you to opt out if you: 

  • have a health issue which prevents you from practising safely 
  • cannot get the required professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place
  • have had a change to your criminal history, or 
  • if you are unavailable or are not suitable or safe to practise (but remember, you don’t need to tell us why you are opting out). 

You must have appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place before you start practising. Your employer may organise this for you or you may need to contact your insurer. An employer may require other checks, such as a criminal history check or working with children check – that is for them to decide and advise you.

Yes, you must have appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place if you want to practise. Your employer may organise this for you or you may need to contact your insurer.

PII arrangements need to provide adequate and appropriate cover for all aspects of your intended practice. For more information see your profession’s registration standard for PII:

For medical practitioners: 

If you are going to be an employee, you will need to check whether your employer will arrange your professional indemnity insurance and to what extent you will be covered. Some practitioners choose to also have their own professional indemnity insurance although this is not a requirement of the Medical Board. If you will be practising in the private system or your employer does not arrange for you to be covered, you will need to obtain appropriate insurance from a professional indemnity insurer.

The Commonwealth Government has confirmed that if you were covered by the Commonwealth Run-off Cover Scheme (ROCS) and you return to the workforce to support healthcare initiatives for COVID-19, you will continue to be covered by ROCS for claims that may arise in relation to your prior medical practice before you retired. You will still need to ensure you are insured for medical services you provide once you return to practice. 

If you are returning to public practice you should confirm with your hospital or health service if they are indemnifying you and to what extent.

We recommend you speak to your medical indemnity insurer to clarify your situation and confirm your cover.

Diagnostic radiographers added to the pandemic response sub-register who intend on practising must check with the radiation licensing authority in their state or territory about current requirements for 'radiation use' licences. Contact details for radiation licensing authorities can be found on the Medical Radiation Practice Board's webpage.

You will need to comply with your profession’s code of conduct, professional indemnity insurance requirements and work within the scope of your practice.

COVID-19 has the potential to put huge additional demand on our health services. The aim of the pandemic sub-register isn’t only about clinically treating patients for COVID-19, it is to help increase the pool of registered practitioners to call on - if health services need them. 

If you choose to work, you must work within your scope of practice, but the pandemic response sub-register does not mean you have to work in a COVID-19 clinic, nor does it limit work roles to hospitals or defined workplaces. There are many roles that will likely need to be filled in public, private and community health, social, aged care and disability services, as acute health services cope with the anticipated extra demand. You are not limited in what work you do, as long as it is within your scope of practice.

The pandemic response sub-register is temporary and practitioners on it are only registered for 12 months (or less if the pandemic subsides sooner). It will not be possible to renew registration on the pandemic response sub-register.

Ahpra will contact practitioners who had already applied for registration and have been put on the pandemic sub-register. You will be able to discuss your options including:

  1. Continue with your application.To do this, you will need to opt out from the sub-register (we will let you know when to do this). Your application will follow the usual process. Fees will apply. There will be a short period where you are not registered and cannot practise until your new registration is granted. If registration is granted, then you will be able to practise and at the end of the registration period you can apply to renew your registration in the usual way.
  2. Withdraw your application. Your application fee and registration fee will be refunded. You will remain on the sub-register for 12 months (or less if the pandemic subsides sooner). If you would like to continue to practise after this time, you will need to apply for ongoing registration, pay the required application and registration fees and demonstrate that you meet all the registration standards (e.g. criminal history, English language and recency of practice).

If you have been added to the sub-register and your name is on the Register of practitioners, you are registered to practise and there is no need to change to ongoing registration at this time.

However, the pandemic response sub-register is temporary and practitioners on it are only registered for 12 months (or less if the pandemic subsides sooner). It will not be possible to renew registration on the pandemic response sub-register. Practitioners who wish to continue practising after the pandemic will need to apply for ongoing registration.

We are currently developing a process for practitioners on the sub-register to be able to apply for ongoing registration if they wish. We will provide more details in advance of the closing of the sub-register.

However, if you do wish to apply for ongoing registration now, please consider the following. To be able to change from temporary registration on the pandemic response sub-register to ongoing registration you will need to:

  • opt out from your current registration on the sub-register. You will be removed from the pandemic response sub-register and there will be a period when you are not registered and cannot practise until your ongoing registration is granted
  • make an application for registration by completing the relevant application form
  • pay the required application and registration fees
  • demonstrate that you meet all the registration standards (e.g. criminal history, English language and recency of practice).

It’s important that you consider recency of practice requirements

While we have added practitioners to the sub-register, it is not known when or if the surge workforce will be required. It may be that practitioners on the sub-register do not practise during this time. If you are intending to practise once the sub-register is closed, you should check your Board’s recency of practice registration standard, as a period of registration without practice may impact your ability to meet the recency of practice requirements in the future.

Yes – in line with your Board’s recency of practice registration standard. 

Registration on the pandemic sub-register is temporary. If you have been re-registered on the pandemic sub-register and think that you will wish to continue practising after the pandemic subsides, at that time, you will need to apply for registration through the standard process. You will need to meet the usual registration requirements, including recency of practice. You may use your time practising your profession during the pandemic to count towards recency of practice requirements for future registration, in line with your Board’s recency of practice registration standard. 

For more information see your profession’s recency of practice requirements outlined in the registration standard:

No, Ahpra registers health practitioners so they can practise, but we don’t have a role in employing practitioners.

There are links to Commonwealth, state and territory health department websites on the COVID-19 health workforce webpage. Health departments have information about the emergency response workforce.

A copy of the pandemic response sub-register has been provided to state and territory health departments to assist their pandemic workforce planning.

No. The pandemic sub-register is for registration to practise in Australia only. While the pandemic is worldwide, if you wish to practise in another country you will need to apply for registration with the registration authority in that country.

After 12 months (or sooner if the pandemic subsides), everyone will be removed from the pandemic response sub-register. If you would like to continue practising after that time, you will need to apply for registration through the standard process.

If you had non-practising registration before the pandemic, you will be returned to non-practising registration.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 1/07/2020