Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Performance assessments
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Performance assessments

A National Board may need a health practitioner to undergo a performance assessment if it believes that the way they practise the profession is, or may be, unsatisfactory.

Performance assessment process

Referral from assessment, immediate action, or investigation
Assessor(s) nominated to undertake performance assessment
Practitioner advised of assessors, time and date of performance assessment
Performance assessment conducted
Performance assessment report given to practitioner or nominated recipient
Practitioner meets with representative of National Board
National Board review and decision

Expand the links below for more information on performance assessment.

A National Board may need a health practitioner to undergo a performance assessment if it believes that the way they practise the profession is, or may be, unsatisfactory. A performance assessment is a process that includes:

  • gathering information about what a health practitioner does in the course of everyday practice, and
  • assessing that information against an expected standard in order to make decisions about the quality of the health practitioner’s performance.

One or more independent practitioners from their profession (the assessors) will carry out the performance assessment.

These are some common assessment methods used by the assessors in a performance assessment:

  • observing the way the practitioner practises
  • conducting an interview
  • auditing clinical records
  • role playing or simulated scenarios, and or
  • evaluating information provided by colleagues, supervisors and peers.

If a health practitioner needs to complete a performance assessment they will receive a notice in writing of the scheduled date, time and plan for the assessment as well as the names of the performance assessors who will carry out the assessment.

The contact name and details of an AHPRA officer will also be provided. Practitioners can contact the AHPRA officer if they have any questions or need further information about the performance assessment.

Practitioners should leave themselves enough time on the day of the performance assessment and should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.

AHPRA and the National Boards appoint the assessors to carry out the performance assessment. The assessors are not National Board members (or AHPRA staff members) and have been chosen to conduct the assessment because they have the expertise in a particular field of practice.

The National Board selects an assessor whose scope of practice is similar to that of the practitioner being assessed. For example, a general practitioner who works in a rural and remote area might be assessed by a practitioner (assessor) who is familiar with the particular challenges of rural practice.

AHPRA and the National Board need to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between the practitioner being assessed and the assessor. The practitioner and the assessor will be asked to confirm that they have no financial, personal or professional relationship before the performance assessment process starting.

Before the performance assessment, the practitioner will be asked to complete a pre-assessment questionnaire. This allows the assessors to determine the content and standards of the assessment.

The practitioner is not expected to have detailed knowledge of the topic areas that are not part of their routine practice. An assessment plan will be developed by AHPRA and the assessors. This will outline the assessment tools and approximate timing of the assessment.

Practitioners are encouraged to contact their assigned AHPRA officer if they would like further information about how we can help with travel or accommodation for the purpose of attending a performance assessment.

At the start of the performance assessment the practitioner will meet the assessors. The performance assessor(s) will ask if the practitioner would like to provide any information before the assessment. This is an opportunity for the practitioner to talk about the concerns raised, any relevant education or professional development they may have carried out and their professional knowledge, skills and experience.

After the performance assessment, the assessors will prepare and provide AHPRA and the National Board with a report of the performance assessment. The registered health practitioner who underwent the performance assessment (or a person they have nominated to receive the report) will be provided with a copy.

In general, a performance assessment report will include the following information:

  • The health practitioner’s name, qualifications and date of birth (for identification purposes only).
  • The name, profession and qualifications of the performance assessors.
  • The place, time and date the performance assessment was held.
  • Details of the practitioner’s professional history.
  • A brief summary of the concern or circumstances that lead to the performance assessment.
  • A list or summary of all of the documents or information given to the assessors before the performance assessment.
  • A description of the methods used for the assessment and what happened during the performance assessment.
  • The assessors’ findings after the performance assessment.
  • The assessors’ recommendations (if any) after the performance assessment.

If the National Board believes the report from the assessor(s) contains information that may be harmful to the practitioner’s health or wellbeing, a copy of the report will be given to their nominated treating health practitioner.

A nominated treating practitioner is a medical practitioner or psychologist that the practitioner completing an assessment has nominated to AHPRA to receive information on their behalf.

If the National Board does not believe that the report contains information that may be harmful to the practitioner’s health or wellbeing, the report will be sent directly to the practitioner or their representative.

If a copy of the report is released to the nominated practitioner and not to the practitioner, AHPRA will write to the practitioner and tell them to attend their nominated treating practitioner to discuss the report. The treating practitioner will then decide when it is appropriate to discuss the report with them. The nominated treating practitioner will advise AHPRA once the report has been discussed and released to the practitioner in question.

After the report has been received from the treating practitioner or AHPRA, the practitioner will be invited to meet with a member of the National Board (or an AHPRA representative delegated by the National Board) to discuss the report. An AHPRA officer will also attend this meeting. Notice will be sent advising of the time, date and venue of this meeting.

The National Boards and AHPRA encourage practitioners to bring a support person and/or representative to the meeting to discuss the report.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for the practitioner to respond to the assessor’s findings and to discuss any recommendations made in the report. Practitioners are encouraged to bring any written documentation of education or continuing professional development activities they may have carried out since undergoing the performance assessment.

The meeting does not generally last more than one hour, but the AHPRA officer will allow for 90 minutes to ensure all parties have the opportunity to discuss the outcomes.

The AHPRA officer will make a record of the meeting which will be provided to the National Board with the report from the performance assessor and any submission made by the practitioner.

We recognise this process can be difficult and some people may find it hard to verbally express their views or feelings. Practitioners are welcome to provide a written submission that can also be provided to the National Board with the record of the meeting and the performance assessors report. There are support services available to provide additional help.

After a practitioner has met with a member or representative of a National Board to discuss the assessors report and has made a submission (if they choose to do so), the National Board will meet and consider the performance assessment report, the record of the meeting and any submissions received. The National Board can make the following decisions based on the performance assessment report:

  • no further action 
  • refer to a health assessment 
  • refer to investigation 
  • refer to a performance and professional standards panel 
  • refer to a tribunal hearing 
  • impose conditions on a practitioner’s registration 
  • accept an undertaking from the practitioner, and/or 
  • caution the practitioner.

Under the National Law, if a National Board decides to take action against a practitioner, notice must be given to the practitioner’s employer.

When the matter is referred for a performance assessment, the person who raised the concern will be advised that the practitioner has been referred for an assessment. This person will not usually be contacted again or given information about the performance assessment or the findings of the performance assessment.

The person who raised the concern may only be contacted if the National Board needs more information from that person.

Practitioners are encouraged to speak with the assigned AHPRA officer for further information about the performance assessment process. The AHPRA officer’s contact details will be included in the notice of the performance assessment.

Find more information about the support services available to practitioners.

Page reviewed 1/11/2023