Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Assessing notifications
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Assessing notifications

An assessment determines what the National Board will do next in response to a concern.

It  happens after we have received: 

  • enough information about a concern raised, and 
  • sufficient information to identify a practitioner. 

When assessing Ahpra considers the nature of the concern against the information we have about the practitioner against the information we have about the practitioner, their practice setting and the nature of their practice. At this stage we perform a risk assessment of the practitioner in the context of the concern raised.'

In most cases, we try to finish the assessment process within 60 days. During this period, we will contact the notifier to make sure we have all the relevant information about the concerns. The health practitioner who has had a concern raised about them is also usually contacted and may be asked to give information to help our risk assessment.

Our focus is on assessing whether the: 

  • conduct or behaviour of a practitioner appears to have been below standard
  • health of a practitioner is impaired to the extent that they might not be making safe decisions for their patients
  • reflections and actions of a practitioner in response to an event notified about are appropriate, responsible and professional, and
  • practitioner is in a position to be supported by a workplace to ensure ongoing safety.

There are some cases, however, where the risk to the public is too great because of:

  • a single, serious, one-off concern that has not been appropriately dealt with,
  • a single, serious, one-off concern that cannot appropriately be managed without regulatory intervention, or
  • a series of concerns that represent that might represent a pattern of behaviour that requires our intervention.

In these cases, we will usually investigate the practitioner. We may also need to take interim, protective action while our investigation occurs. 

After assessing a concern, a National Board has a number of options available, they can:

  • close the matter, where the concern
    • is not serious enough to warrant more detailed consideration
    • is made in circumstances where the Board considers it to be vexatious
    • was made as a result of a is understanding or misinterpretation
    • is one that can be resolved by the practitioner and / or their workplace taking appropriate action
    • arose out of an event that happened in the past and investigating won’t be practicable
    • can be referred to another entity who is more appropriate to deal with the matter.
  • take a regulatory action under the National Law such as issue a caution, enter into an undertaking, or impose conditions with a focus on improvement when the actions of an individual or health service are not enough, 
  • refer the matter or aspects of the matter for investigation, or
  • refer the health practitioner for a health or performance assessment. 

As we manage a concern, we assess practitioner risk. We do this by referring to:

  • the events or circumstances described in an individual notification
  • the practice setting, including if the practitioner works in isolation or with vulnerable patient groups
  • the nature of the practice undertaken by the practitioner, including understanding what standards or guidelines (Board or other) cover this type of practice
  • practitioner information we hold, including their regulatory history
  • the responses, reflections and actions by the practitioner, and
  • the support and risk mitigation offered or taken by the practitioner’s workplace(s).

Yes. It helps us understand the concerns that you raised, and also what outcome you expect from raising the concern. 

We prefer to speak to you directly. We will usually email you first to organise a time to talk. 

Yes. And we prefer to gather this information by speaking to you directly. 

There are occasions we will not contact you because doing so would:

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

Your response helps us understand more about you and what has changed or has happened since the notified concerns or event. 

This includes what you and/ or your workplace(s) have done or are willing to do to ensure future risk is reduced(including arrangements you make if you are a self-employed practitioner). 

This helps us understand what is in place to reduce any future risk to the public, and to support your ongoing safe and professional practice as a registered health practitioner.

Yes, if you were the person who raised the concern, or the practitioner (unless we have not contacted you previously).

We will explain to you from the beginning what you can expect from the process and the possible outcomes. 

You can find more information about what you can expect from the concern you have raised in the ‘I have raised a concern with Ahpra’ video on this website. 

You can also give feedback or raise a complaint.

Sometimes, Ahpra will not contact the practitioner at this stage if it is considered doing so would:

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

The role of the Ahpra at this stage is to gather relevant information. At the end of the assessment stage, Ahpra will present this information to the National Board for consideration. This report is prepared only for the National Board and is not released to the practitioner or the person who raised the concern. All decisions are made by the Board or delegates of the Board.

You should give us all the information you have available to you when you are making the notification.

If, after a decision is made about whether the notification should trigger any action from us, you believe there is information we haven’t considered, contact your case officer as soon as possible.

We will assess the information and

  • If it is new, we can ask the Board to consider it.
  • If the information (or the substance of the information) was already known to the Board, we will let you know. In that case, we may decline to ask the Board to reconsider the matter.

Page reviewed 26/11/2020