Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Possible outcomes
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Possible outcomes

There are a number of possible outcomes from raising a concern. Some of these are decided by a National Board. Some can only be decided by a panel or tribunal hearing. 

Ahpra and National Boards are committed to managing concerns in a timely way. This means making decisions about an outcome as early as possible. We will do this when we have the information we need to make a decision. 

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This is decided when the concern is first received. 

The National Law sets down the minimum grounds for Ahpra to accept a notification (section 144). Ahpra and the National Boards can only consider it if it meets one of these grounds. The grounds are if a registered health practitioner or student who:

  • behaved in a way that was below the professional standard the public or the practitioner’s peers might expect
  • does not have the level of professional knowledge, skill or judgement that would be expected or the practitioner does not exercise enough care in the way they carry out their profession
  • is not a suitable person to hold registration
  • is or may be ill and/or have an impairment, and pose a risk to the public
  • has or may have breached the National Law
  • has, or may have, breached a condition on their registration or an undertaking, and/or
  • obtained their registration improperly.

When you submit a concern, you need to provide enough information for us to consider it. We will contact you to find out more if this is not enough. If we cannot establish that one or more of these grounds exist we will contact you and tell you why we cannot take you’re the concern further.

There are different reasons why a National Board may decide to take no further action:

  • if there is no ongoing risk to the public that it needs to manage, or
  • because of the action already taken by the individual and/or their workplace there is no future risk to the patient. 

This does not mean your concern was not taken seriously. The details of your concern will remain on record and may be taken into consideration at a later time if another similar complaint or concern is made about the practitioner.

If the Board decides to take no further action, we will contact you and explain the reasons for the Board’s decision.

We may also refer you to another organisation that may be able to provide help.

If, in reviewing a concern, a National Board determines that it is not the appropriate body to handle a matter, it may refer the concern to another agency. Other agencies can include health complaints entities, the Coroner’s Court, the police or Medicare.

The Board can refer the entire complaint or specific and relevant aspects to that other agency.

If this happens, we will tell you, the practitioner, and others involved that the National Board has decided to refer the matter to another agency.

More information about the role of the National Boards and other agencies that handle complaints or concerns about practitioners and/or health services is published on this website.

National Boards can accept an undertaking from a practitioner to limit the practitioner’s practice in some way if this is necessary to protect the public. The undertaking means the practitioner agrees to do, or to not do something in relation to their profession.

Once a National Board accepts an undertaking from a practitioner, it becomes a legal obligation on the practitioner and no right of appeal is available.

When the National Board accepts an undertaking from a practitioner, the undertaking is published on the register of practitioners and may be viewed publicly at any time. When a National Board decides the undertaking is no longer required to protect the public, it is revoked and will be removed from the national register of practitioners.

If the undertaking relates to a practitioner’s health, limited information about the undertaking is published on the public register.

A National Board cannot seek an undertaking from a practitioner, or compel or require a practitioner to provide an undertaking. It is the practitioner’s undertaking and can only be given voluntarily by the practitioner to a National Board.

See also the definition of a condition.

A condition restricts a practitioner’s practice in some way. Imposing a condition means the practitioner needs to do something, or is prevented from doing something, in relation to their profession.

A National Board can impose a condition on the registration of a practitioner or student, or on an endorsement of registration, to protect the public.

Unlike an undertaking, a condition is an instrument used by the National Board and can be imposed on a practitioner’s registration, with or without the practitioner’s agreement.

Conditions are placed on a practitioner’s registration when the National Board believes this is needed to protect the public. There are a number of situations when a National Board might consider putting a condition on a practitioner’s registration. These include:

  • when a practitioner applies for registration, or is returning to practice after a break 
  • when a National Board has decided that a practitioner’s professional performance or conduct does not meet an acceptable standard 
  • when a National Board decides that a practitioner’s health may affect their ability to practise 
  • as part of an immediate action, and 
  • after a panel or tribunal hearing.

It is important to remember that conditions can also be placed on a practitioner’s registration for reasons that are not disciplinary, such as for a practitioner who is returning to practice after a break or for health reasons.

Conditions that restrict a practitioner’s practice of the profession are published on the public register of practitioners. When a National Board decides the conditions are no longer needed to protect the public, they are removed from the practitioner’s registration and no longer published.

There are some types of conditions that are used commonly. These include that the practitioner must:

  • complete further education or training 
  • only practise under the supervision of another practitioner 
  • do, or refrain from doing, something in connection with the practitioner’s practice (such as stop prescribing certain medications) 
  • manage their practice or place of practice in a specified way 
  • report to a named person (such as an employer) at specified times while practising, or 
  • not employ, engage or recommend or work with a specified person, or class of people.

There may also be conditions related to a practitioner’s health (such as a condition for psychiatric care or drug screening). The details of health conditions are not usually published on the national register of practitioners.

See also the definition of undertaking.

A National Board may caution a practitioner. A caution is a like a written warning and is intended to act as a deterrent so that the practitioner does not repeat the conduct or behaviour.

A caution is not usually recorded on the public register but may be if the National Board considers it appropriate to do so.

If a practitioner’s registration is suspended, they cannot practise their profession until a National Board or a tribunal revokes the suspension.

A tribunal has the power to suspend a practitioner’s registration after a matter has been referred to the tribunal for a hearing by a National Board.

A National Board may suspend a practitioner as a form of immediate action in the public interest, if it believes the practitioner presents a serious and immediate risk to public and that a suspension is the proportionate way to address that risk until the matter has been resolved.

Read more about immediate action.

A health panel can suspend a practitioner’s registration if the panel finds that the practitioner (or student) has an impairment and it is necessary to suspend the practitioner’s registration to protect the public.

A reprimand is a formal way of rebuking or expressing disapproval to a practitioner for something they have done. A National Board can reprimand a practitioner after a performance or professional standards panel. A tribunal can reprimand a practitioner after a tribunal hearing.

Reprimands issued since the start of the National Scheme are published on the national register of practitioners.

A health practitioner whose registration has been cancelled is forbidden from practising the profession or working in any way as a health practitioner in that profession in all Australian states and territories.

Only a court or a tribunal has the power to cancel a health practitioner’s registration.

Since 2010, all health practitioners who have had their registration cancelled by a court or tribunal, been disqualified from practice or had their registration prohibited appear on the cancelled health practitioners register.

There is also a list of practitioners who have agreed not to practise when a National Board thinks this is in the public interest. There are circumstances when a practitioner will not appear on this list. Please call us for more information on 1300 419 495.

Page reviewed 1/11/2023