Information for practitioners

UPDATED 8 July 2021 — Information for practitioners about the pandemic response sub-register

In April 2020, National Boards and Ahpra established a temporary pandemic response sub-register for 12 months to help fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners in response to COVID-19.

Responding to COVID-19 remains an important focus for Australian Governments and the community. Registered health practitioners are playing a vital role in supporting the vaccination rollout and this has meant, that for some professions, the need for the temporary sub-register has changed.

  • Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists on the sub-register who hadn't applied for continuing registration were extended for up to 12 months (to 5 April 2022) to be able to help with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. This is also the case for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners extended from 1 July 2021 to 5 April 2022.
  • For psychology, physiotherapy and diagnostic radiography practitioners the sub-register closed on 19 April 2021.

Practitioners on the sub-register who decide before 5 April 2022 that they want to do more than help with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, that is, practise to their full scope, must apply for registration through the standard process required by each National Board.

These practitioners will need to meet the relevant National Board’s registration standards, including criminal history, English language and recency of practice (time spent practising while on the sub-register can count towards recency of practice requirements).

We are no longer adding practitioners to the pandemic response sub-register. If you have not been included on the pandemic response sub-register and want to return to practice you will need to make an application for registration by submitting the relevant form which can be found on your Board’s website. You will need to meet the usual return to practice requirements, including recency of practice.

The Commonwealth Health Minister has requested that the temporary pandemic response sub-register (the sub-register) be extended for eligible practitioners (medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners) to support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

The sub-register will be extended for eligible practitioners up until 5 April 2022. Practitioners who are on the sub-register in the professions above will have their registration extended and can practise with a limited scope (meaning they can only 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 have been extended on the sub-register for an additional 12 months until 5 April 2022 with a limited scope to be able to help with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Practitioners have also been extended on the sub-register to 5 April 2022.

No, there is no fee for the extension of the sub-register. If eligible, the expiry date on your registration will automatically be updated.

Yes, for medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the sub-register with a registration expiry date of 5 April 2022 your scope is limited, and you can only practise to support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. Your registration will have a notation, which will appear on the public Register of practitioners. The notation will say:

‘Registered on pandemic response sub-register. Limited to practise for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.’

If you wish to practise in an area outside of this, you will need to apply for registration on the main register. To apply for registration on the main register you will need to:

  1. Opt-out of the sub-register.
  2. Apply for registration on the main register through the standard application process. Please see your National Board’s website for further information on how to apply for registration.

Anyone on the sub-register who has an application for registration on the main register in progress, should note that their registration will be kept ‘in-force’ until a decision is made about their application. If granted registration they will not have a limitation on their practice to only roles supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners currently on the pandemic response sub-register up to 5 April 2022 have registration limited to practice for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, but only if they choose to help and are fit and suitable to do so.  

This is reflected on a practitioner’s registration with the notation ‘Registered on pandemic response sub-register. Limited to practice for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.’ Practitioners from this group are unable to practise outside of this scope. 

This means only roles which directly support the COVID-19 vaccination roll out, for example, administering the vaccine, can be performed by practitioners on the sub-register. This may also include roles associated with but not limited to:

  • handling and storage activities 
  • dosing and administering the vaccine/and or helping with this, and/or
  • safety and surveillance monitoring following vaccination.

Registered health practitioners who are authorised to administer COVID-19 vaccines will be required to complete additional training related to the handling and administration of the vaccines, including the Commonwealth Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination training program.   

For those practitioners on the sub-register that wish to practise in roles outside of this, practitioners will need to apply for registration through the standard process for their National Board.

Ahpra and National Boards have also published some useful FAQ on vaccination for practitioners. 

For practitioners on the sub-register with a notation on their registration which limits their practice, they may practise in roles related only to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. There is no obligation to practise or remain on the sub-register, however, if you do not opt-out you may be contacted by Health Department representatives to see if you wish to support the vaccination rollout.

A number of healthcare and recruitment organisations are already seeking staff. There are opportunities to support:

  • aged care and disability facilities
  • general practice led COVID clinics, and
  • large scale vaccination clinics run by state health departments.

Information about current opportunities can be found at:

You can find general information in our FAQ on vaccination.

For medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, the sub-register will close on 5 April 2022, or earlier if additional resources for the COVID-19 vaccination program are no longer required.

For diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists, the sub-register closed on 19 April 2021.

Through the creation of the pandemic response sub-register, special arrangements were put in place via regulation to enable run-off indemnity cover to be maintained for medical practitioners and midwives on the sub-register and working in private practice to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. These arrangements were due to expire on 17 June 2021 but have been extended to 17 September 2021, coinciding with the extension of the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Declaration 2020. The extension of this special arrangement is now being provided under the Medical Indemnity Rules 2000 and the Midwife Professional Indemnity (Commonwealth Contribution) Scheme Rules 2020 and only applies to medical practitioners and midwives. Any further extensions will be confirmed by the Department of Health. Medical practitioners and midwives on the sub-register are reminded that your scope is limited, and you can only practise to support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Yes, you can count your practice while on the pandemic response sub-register for any future registration application as long as it’s in line with your Board’s recency of practice registration standard.

Remember, registration on the pandemic sub-register was always a temporary measure. If you are on the sub-register and want to continue practising after it closes, you will need to apply for registration through the usual process (which includes the transition pathway in advance of the sub-register closing). Applying includes meeting the registration requirements, such as recency of practice.

If you do not meet these requirements, you will need to provide a curriculum vitae (CV) which details your practice history for the past 10 years. If you are a nurse and/or midwife a CV and a statement of service from your employer is required. Including this evidence with your application will help to expedite your transition to the public register. For more information see your profession’s recency of practice requirements outlined in the registration standard:

Practitioners on the sub-register were given 12 months of registration with no fees. Usually a registration fee and application fee would have been payable.

Practitioners wishing to continue to hold registration must apply and pay the appropriate fee.

Importantly, there is no application fee and we are charging a reduced registration fee for professions where the remaining period of your new registration will be less than 12 months.

This means if you apply for and are granted registration as a:

  • Diagnostic radiographer, you will be registered to 30 November 2021 and will pay a $115 registration fee ($74 for NSW PPP).
  • Physiotherapist, you will be registered to 30 November 2021 and will pay a $86 registration fee ($62 for NSW PPP).
  • Psychologist, you will be registered to 30 November 2021 and will pay a $284 registration fee ($220 for NSW PPP).

Registration fees cover the costs of the National Scheme and the work to regulate each of the 16 professions.

Psychologists, physiotherapists and diagnostic radiographers were automatically removed from the pandemic response sub-register when it closed.

If you had non-practising registration before the pandemic, you were returned to non-practising registration when the sub-register closed.

After the sub-register closed on 19 April 2021, if you are not registered with the relevant National Board or have not made an application for registration that is yet to be decided, you cannot work in your profession.

If you are a psychologist, physiotherapist or diagnostic radiographer and applied for registration before the sub-register closed on 19 April 2021, you can keep practising while we assess your application. You will continue to be registered and will appear on the Register of practitioners as being registered. Your details will be updated once your application is decided.

If you are a medical practitioner, nurse, midwife, pharmacist (extended from 6 April 2021) or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner (extended from 30 June 2021) and you have applied for registration, before the extension of the sub-register for your profession, you can also keep practising while we assess your application.

If you are approved for registration on the main register, you will be removed from the sub-register. Registration on the main register allows you to practise in roles within the scope of your profession. You are not limited to the scope of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Practice means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a practitioner in their regulated health profession. Practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with patients or clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of health services in the health profession.

The easiest way to check your registration is to look up the Register of practitioners on the Ahpra website.

All applicants need to meet the relevant National Board’s registration standards including criminal history, English language and recency of practice. We will contact you directly if further information is required in support of your application.

If your employer enquires about your current registration status, please direct them to the Register of practitioners as proof that you are still registered.

Yes, you can opt out of the sub-register at any time until 5 April 2022. Let us know if that is what you want to do by contacting us at pandemicregister@ahpra.gov.au.

No. The extension to the sub-register is only available to those practitioners on the sub-register as at 11.59pm 5 April 2021 and who are medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

Ahpra registers health practitioners so they can practise, but we do not have a role in employing practitioners. There are links to Commonwealth, state and territory health department websites and on the COVID-19 health workforce webpage. A copy of the pandemic response sub-register has been provided to state and territory health departments to help their pandemic workforce planning. Practitioners on the sub-register may be contacted directly by local health departments about roles to support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
 
 
 
Page reviewed 8/07/2021