Further information

We understand that raising a concern, or having a concern raised about you, can be stressful. To help you we have published a list of support services for practitioners and the public and details of where you can find further information.

Ahpra has also published the Regulatory Guide which provides comprehensive information about the handling of notifications

Frequently asked questions

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) that you might have about raising a concern about a registered health practitioner. If you still have questions, please refer to our guides and fact sheets or contact us on 1300 419 495.

Are you looking for general information? If yes, these FAQs are for you.

Ahpra and the National Boards work in close partnership to regulate Australia’s registered health practitioners in a scheme called the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

National Boards and Ahpa have different roles under the law but share the same objectives, including the protection of the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered.

The National Boards are the decision-makers for concerns about registered health practitioners. Ahpra supports the National Boards by performing all the operational and administrative functions of the  National Scheme.

This means that when a person raises a concern with us, Ahpra, collects all relevant information and provides administrative support to the National Board to assess. Ahpra will then manage it at the National Board’s direction.

For example, Ahpra will receive the concern and bring it to the National Board’s attention. If the National Board decides to investigate the practitioner, it will direct Ahpra to conduct the investigation and will give direction about how the investigation should take place. At the end of the investigation, Ahpra will bring the matter back to the National Board who will decide what action to take. Ahpra will then give effect to this decision.

This diagram below shows the relationships between Ahpra, the National and Regional Boards and Committees. 

    National Boards    
       
           
 National Board Committees     State/Territory Regional Boards
   
         
       State/Territory Regional Committees 
     
         
 

  Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency 

   
   

Anyone can make a complaint or raise a concern to Ahpra about a registered health practitioner. We will consider the information we gather from the complainant (notifier) and usually ask the practitioner concerned to provide a response. We speak to the notifier, practitioner, and others first and then follow up in writing. The relevant Board will then assess the information and make a decision on whether it needs to take regulatory action, whether it needs to investigate further or whether no further action is needed. Learn more about how we manage concerns.

This depend on the complexity of the matter and how long it takes to gather the relevant information. 

Most notifications are closed within 90 days. 

The National Law requires that investigations happen in a timely way. 

Reports about the average timeframes for investigations and other statistics can be found on our performance data page.

See information on other agencies that consider complaints about healthcare and services under health complaints organisations in each state and territory.
If you are seeking compensation, treatment advice or an apology, please contact your local health complaints organisation.

If a National Board, panel or tribunal decides to take action about a health practitioner’s or student’s registration, Ahpra checks that the health practitioner or student meets these obligations.

Ahpra does this by monitoring the practitioner or student over the relevant period decided by the National Board, panel or tribunal.

For example, if a National Board sets a condition that a health practitioner complete education to improve their skills, the practitioner must:

  • complete the education
  • complete the education in the set timeframe, and
  • provide proof of completion of the education.

Ahpra receives information from third parties about the restrictions or requirements on the health practitioner’s registration and assesses whether the practitioner is doing what they are meant to do.

The National Board will then make a decision on whether to lift the restrictions or remove the requirements in place. If a practitioner is found to be non-compliant, the National Board may consider taking further action, including disciplinary action.

Find more information about monitoring and compliance.

 

Are you a health practitioner or student who has had a concern raised about you? If yes, these FAQs are for you.

Learn more about what to expect. We recognise that having a notification made about you can be stressful. Remember to take care of yourself and talk to your friends, family or colleagues about how you are feeling. There are people at Ahpra to assist you in understanding the relevant stages of the process. If you need additional support, we would encourage you to contact one of the available support services.

Complaints can be about the health, performance or conduct of a registered health practitioner or student and might include concerns that:

  • a practitioner is practising unsafely (performance)
  • a practitioner is behaving in a way that might place the public at risk (conduct), and/or
  • the practitioner has a health impairment that might make them a risk to their patients or the public.

An Ahpra officer will contact you by phone and then follow up in writing to let you know that a concern has been made about you. Occasionally, Ahpra is not able to advise you about this, if doing so might: 

  • prejudice an investigation 
  • place a person’s safety at risk, or 
  • place a person at risk of intimidation.

Please contact us if you believe that a concern may have been made about you. Before releasing any information about a concern to you, Ahpra officers will ask you for information to prove your identity.

 

Ahpra and National Boards are committed to ensuring that the management of the notification is completed in a timely manner, taking into account the complexities of individual matters. You can help with this by:

  • engaging the supports you need early and throughout the process, including indemnifiers and/or professional associations and colleges
  • providing Ahpra with the information we need as early as possible, and
  • giving your employer permission to share information about you with Ahpra to help validate what you have told us. 

We also know that most practitioners manage risk over their careers. 

When a concern is raised with us, we need to understand how you have responded to the event that triggered the concern. This includes actions you have taken after reflection to reduce the likelihood of future risk. This is done when you:

  • recognise and assesses the risk effectively
  • respond promptly, in the best interests of the patient
  • accept accountability
  • refer to or engages others in responding as appropriate
  • declare and share information about what has happened
  • initiate and actively participate in adverse event reporting and responses
  • actively reflect, reviews and updates knowledge and skills
  • articulate how they will respond effectively in similar circumstances in the future, and
  • can clearly describe action to modify or restrict own practice. 

If the National Board intends to make a decision to stop you from working or to restrict your registration, you will be advised in writing and will be given an opportunity to respond before any action is taken.

Restrictions on your practice (including restrictions that stop you working) will be documented on the national Register of practitioners. If you are unsure about whether you can work or not, contact us for further information.

Your employment agreement or contract may require you to inform your employer about a concern submitted to Ahpra about you. It is your responsibility to check and understand this. 

We may also need to speak to your employer during an investigation. We will usually tell you we are going to do this before we do so. This is not always the case. 

You need to tell your employer if a National Board decides to take action on your registration, such as:

  • suspension 
  • imposition of conditions 
  • accepting an undertaking 
  • a caution, or 
  • a reprimand.

Under the National Law, we need to also advise your employer in writing if a National Board takes action on your registration.

 

Most decisions by a National Board are appellable. Further details of what decisions can be appealed and how the appeals process works can be found on the Appealing a decision page.

 

Is this the right place for me to raise my concern about a registered health practitioner? If yes, these FAQs are for you.

Concerns can be raised with us about the health, performance or conduct (behaviour) of registered health practitioners and might include concerns that:

  • a practitioner is practising unsafely (performance)
  • a practitioner is behaving in a way that might place the public at risk (conduct), and/or
  • the practitioner has a health impairment that might make them a risk to their patients or the public.

You can submit a concern by phone, through our online portal, or by email or post using our form. Find all of our contact information here

If you are in Queensland, all complaints about registered health practitioners or students are made to the Office of the Health Ombudsman. The Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) can be contacted via its website or by contacting 133 OHO (133 646).

If you are in NSW, and would like to make a complaint about a registered practitioner who works in NSW, you can contact:

Find all of our contact information, including AHPRA State and Territory office contact details.

Ahpra doesn’t require you to speak to the health practitioner or health service before making a notification, but where possible we ask that you raise your concerns directly with the health practitioner to provide them with an opportunity to respond to your concerns directly. Ahpra is not able to assist you in receiving an apology, an explanation or a review of the care or treatment a health practitioner provided to you, you should first contact the place where you received the care or contact a health complaints organisation in your state or territory.

Ahpra and the National Boards primary focus is public protection. To keep the public safe, they can take action that might affect a practitioner’s registration.

They can only take action against a health practitioner’s registration and cannot help resolve the issue, nor arrange for compensation or the return of patient records.

If you want an apology, compensation, an explanation or a review of the care a health practitioner provided, you should contact the place where you received care or contact the health complaints entity in your state or territory.

Yes. We understand that the circumstances that led to you raising a concern about a health practitioner or student might have been distressing or stressful.

Ahpra is an objective party that does not advocate on behalf of a person raising a concern or a practitioner. However, if you need additional support through the process or would like a referral to an agency that may be able to provide specialised support, please contact us.

The actions of Ahpra and the National Boards are not intended to punish or penalise a practitioner.

As set out in our Regulatory principles for the National Scheme, we respond to concerns raised in ways that are proportionate and manage risk so we can adequately protect the public. When taking action, a National Board will use the minimum force required to manage any risk to the public posed by the practitioner.

This means that a National Board will only take the action needed to address the risk identified to protect the public. The National Board cannot take any action solely to punish or penalise a practitioner.

We respect your right to remain anonymous or raise your concerns confidentially with Ahpra. But doing so may limit our ability to consider, investigate or take action about your concerns. You can find more information under anonymous concerns.

The National Law provides protection from civil, criminal and administrative liability for people who raise a concern about a registered health practitioner or student if the concern raised is made ‘in good faith’. A concern raised about a practitioner ‘in good faith’ is one that is made honestly, sincerely and fairly.

Yes. You can raise a concern on behalf of another person or have someone act on your behalf during the process. For someone to act on your behalf, we will need your written consent. This is particularly important if you were the patient and you are nominating another party to act as your representative throughout the process because we will provide that party with all relevant information related to the matter. This may include health records or other personal information about you.

You can find more information under Ahpra’s Privacy policy.

If you are a patient, a person might raise a concern about a practitioner who provided care to you.

As you are not the person who raised the concern, Ahpra will not be able to discuss details of the it with you. However, we might contact you to ask for information, or ask for your consent to obtain your health records.

Sometimes, the National Board or Ahpra might decide not to contact the patient as part of the process if this might either cause harm to the patient or would be detrimental to the management of that concern.

There is no statutory timeframe to raise a concern. However, it is usually better not to let your concerns get too old before reporting it to us. If a concern is raised many years after the event, it can be difficult to rely on people’s memories or to find all relevant records.

If the practitioner or student has passed away, we are unable to progress it.

We need you to provide as much relevant information as you can when you first contact us so that we can decide whether we can proceed. This might include:

  • your details (unless you wish to remain anonymous)
  • the details of the registered health practitioner or student (s) the concern is about
  • details of the incident(s) such as what happened, where it happened and whether there were any witnesses
  • date of the event(s)
  • if you are acting on behalf of someone else, whether you have obtained their consent
  • if you are a registered health practitioner, whether you are making a mandatory notification
  • whether you have discussed the matter or complained directly with the health practitioner concerned or another organisation, and
  • any supporting documentation.

We will contact you if we need to clarify or require further information. 

No. Under the current National Law the person who raised the concern about a health practitioner or student is unable to request a review of or appeal against any decision made by a National Board. If you are unhappy with AHPRA’s administrative processes, you can make a complaint directly to AHPRA or the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman.

You can find more information about Ahpra’s Complaints policy and the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman on our website.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 11/12/2020