July 2019

In this edition:

Welcome from the CEO

Welcome to our winter issue of AHPRA Report, which highlights the work of AHPRA and the National Boards over the past six months. The pace has not slowed since our last report. Paramedicine is now well and truly on board as part of the National Scheme, with over 17,000 paramedics registered so far.

We’ve continued work on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy, with a recent public consultation on the definition of ‘cultural safety’. This is a crucial concept that needs to be understood and applied in healthcare to improve health outcomes for First Peoples and we are working in partnership to arrive at an agreed definition for use across the National Scheme.

We’ve seen reforms to the National Law itself through the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld), passed by the Queensland Parliament in February 2019. The changes will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia. Revisions to the mandatory reporting requirements for treating health practitioners are intended to support registered practitioners to seek help for health or wellbeing issues, and we will be working closely with the professions to plan and roll out an awareness campaign to practitioners. Penalties for offences under the National Law are being increased, including the introduction of custodial sentences of up to three years’ imprisonment for such offences as falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner (holding out) – a major breach of trust and patient safety. These changes will make an important difference for both the public and registered practitioners.

We have developed a video series to support and guide both the public and practitioners through a notification journey, helping them to better prepare for and understand the process. The video series, called ‘Let’s talk about it’, explains what happens when concerns are raised with us, provides easy to follow information about the notifications process and addresses common questions from the public and practitioners.

Finally, we’ve made some big strides in research and international collaboration. In February we hosted a National Scheme Research Summit focused on harnessing data and research for effective regulation that improves patient safety. In April, AHPRA officially launched as a designated World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation in the Western Pacific Region.

You’ll find more about these topics and many others in this newsletter, and we welcome your feedback on our activities.

Martin Fletcher
Martin.Fletcher@ahpra.gov.au

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Remembering Stephen Marty, inaugural Chair of the Pharmacy Board

Steve MartyIn March, we acknowledged with sadness the passing of Stephen Marty, the inaugural Chair of the Pharmacy Board of Australia.

Steve, as everyone knew him, was an experienced and hard-working regulator who held many roles in pharmacy regulation. He was Registrar of the Victorian Pharmacy Board before the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme which saw his appointment as the inaugural Chair of the Pharmacy Board of Australia in 2009, a position he held until his retirement in 2015.

Current Board Chair Brett Simmonds said Steve made a huge contribution to the establishment and leadership of the new Pharmacy Board and to the work of the National Scheme more widely.

‘He was passionate about the pharmacy profession and about enabling pharmacists to provide quality services for the benefit of the community,’ he said.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said Steve was an enthusiastic contributor who made the most of any opportunity to support a better pharmacy profession or regulatory system. ‘His willingness to share his expertise and knowledge within AHPRA and with every part of the pharmacy profession was well known and respected.’

When not talking to first-year pharmacy students or engaging with pharmacy stakeholders, Steve found other ways to reach people, including by being a regular contributor of articles and opinion columns to many profession-specific publications.

Board members and AHPRA staff will remember Steve as a humble and hardworking man and extend their deepest sympathies to his family.

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What’s new?

New advertising resource available and guidelines consultation to open soon

AHPRA and the National Boards recently released a new advertising resource as we prepare to open a public consultation on revised Guidelines for advertising regulated health services.

The titles tool has been developed to help registered health practitioners understand how titles can be used in advertising. It also outlines some of the common pitfalls that can result in titles being considered misleading under the National Law.1 Misuse of a protected title, specialist title or endorsements is an offence under sections 113-119 of the National Law or may constitute behaviour for which health, conduct or performance action may be taken against a registered health practitioner under Part 8 of the National Law. However, advertisers should also be aware that while use of some titles may not necessarily breach title protections under sections 113-119, the titles may be considered false, misleading or deceptive under the advertising provisions in the National Law (section 133).

Providing more education about advertising requirements and obligations is just one of the ways we are implementing our advertising strategy for the National Scheme. Our goal is to ensure advertising about regulated health services is done responsibly in order to keep the public safe from false or misleading claims and help them make informed decisions about their healthcare.

The titles tool is available in the Advertising resources section on the AHPRA website.

Meanwhile, we will open our public consultation on the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services soon.

The guidelines review is to ensure guidance for practitioners about advertising is as effective as possible and is clear and easy to understand. The revised guidelines are structured to improve readability and make it easier to find relevant content.

Details about the consultation on the revised advertising guidelines will be published on AHPRA and National Board websites soon.

Titles tool image
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1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

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‘Let’s talk about it’ video series published – understanding notifications

Notifications video series

Practitioner notification video

 

 

 

 

 

Health practitioner regulation can be daunting. AHPRA has been listening to how people experience interacting with us during a notification. This ongoing research continues to guide improvements to our communication and engagement.

AHPRA has developed a video series to support and guide both patients and practitioners through a notification journey, helping them to better prepare for and understand the process.

The video series, called ‘Let’s talk about it’, explains what happens when concerns are raised with us, provides easy to follow information about the notifications process and addresses common questions from the public and practitioners.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the videos make information about notifications accessible to a broader range of people and address common questions, so consumers and health practitioners know what to expect when they interact with AHPRA and the National Boards.

‘We received more than 7,000 notifications last year about registered health practitioners. It’s important that the public and health practitioners are clear about what happens when we receive a notification. The videos help the public understand what types of concerns we manage as a regulator. It takes courage to raise concerns and we hope these videos will smooth the path for a well-informed engagement with the process,’ he said.

‘For practitioners, having a concern raised is stressful. Understanding what happens during the notifications process is important. We want to provide clear information about what generally happens when someone is the subject of a notification,’ he added.

You can view the videos on the AHPRA and National Board websites or from their YouTube and Vimeo channel.

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Business as usual for paramedic registration as numbers grow

In our newest profession in the National Scheme, almost 18,000 applications have been received to date and more than 17,000 paramedics have gained registration so far.

The Paramedicine Board has established its Accreditation Committee for paramedic education and training. The committee will exercise the accreditation functions for the paramedicine profession under the National Law, including:

  • developing and reviewing accreditation standards
  • assessing and accrediting programs of study
  • monitoring approved programs of study and education providers to ensure they continue to meet accreditation standards
  • advising the Board on issues in education and clinical training which may impact on paramedicine practice and approved paramedicine programs, and
  • considering other matters as requested by the Board.

The committee will begin consultation on new accreditation standards for paramedic programs in the second half of 2019. More information is available in the news item.

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Focus on enhancing public safety

Changes underway to the National Law

Legislative change helps keep practitioner regulation up to date. Two recent reforms are to mandatory reporting and statutory offences through the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (the Act),which was passed by the Queensland Parliament in February 2019.

The amendments include revisions to the National Law mandatory reporting requirements for treating health practitioners, which are intended to support registered practitioners to seek help for any health or wellbeing issue they may have. Penalties for offences under the National Law are also being increased, (including the introduction of custodial sentences of up to three years’ imprisonment).

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher welcomed the changes, which deal with issues that will make a real difference for both practitioners and the public.

‘Fear and misunderstanding exists about what mandatory reporting means and what it requires practitioners to do. We will be seeking to work closely with the professions in planning and implementing an awareness campaign designed to inform practitioners about mandatory reporting and encouraging practitioners to seek help when they need it,’ he said.

The changes to mandatory reporting are expected to progress late this year with AHPRA and National Boards working closely with professional bodies to develop an awareness campaign. This will explain the mandatory reporting changes and spread the message that practitioners should seek help about their health issues.

Mr Fletcher highlighted the importance of the changes to offences, which reflect the seriousness of people holding themselves out as being a registered health practitioner when they are not.

‘We welcome the strengthening of sanctions for offences, which is great news for patients. Claiming to be a registered health practitioner when you are not is a serious betrayal of trust.’

The new regulatory powers are in effect from 1 July, and the amendments apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where mandatory reporting requirements will not change and current penalties for offences are expected to be subject to legislative amendment at a later date.

The passing of the Act in Queensland marks the second set of legislative amendments to the National Law since the start of the National Scheme in 2010.

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Accreditation update

Agency Management Committee: Accreditation Advisory Committee

The Agency Management Committee (AManC) established an Accreditation Advisory Committee (AAC) in early 2018 to provide oversight and leadership on accreditation governance, accountability and transparency issues, and a whole of scheme perspective on AHPRA’s management of contracts for the performance of the accreditation functions.

In setting up this committee, the AManC is actively seeking to enhance its leadership role on accreditation issues from a multi-profession perspective because this is consistent with its functions and the recommendations of the Governance Review.
The committee held its fifth and sixth meetings in February and May 2019 respectively. More details are in the meeting communiqués available online.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care and Universities Australia participate in the AAC as invited experts and liaison arrangements are in place with the Australian Skills Quality Authority.

New accreditation agreements and terms of reference

Following the review of accreditation assignments earlier in 2018, new accreditation agreements for external accreditation authorities and terms of reference for accreditation committees for the period 2019-24 have been a key area of AHPRA’s work.

New five-year accreditation agreements for each profession will be finalised by mid-2019 when the term of the current agreements ends. Most of the new agreements are now signed.

The new agreements provide a contemporary framework for addressing key accreditation issues such as cultural safety, safety and quality, reducing regulatory burden, multi-profession collaboration to meet evolving healthcare needs, and strengthened accountability and transparency. The agreements also include principles for funding and fee setting and new key performance indicators to track progress on priority issues.

Accreditation Systems Review

At their 12 October 2018 meeting, Health Ministers agreed to release the final report of the Independent Review of Accreditation Systems within the National Scheme (the ASR final report). Ministers also agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) should complete further analysis of the recommendations proposed by the final report and develop a project plan for implementation, which will be subject to Health Ministers’ agreement.

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Medical Board gives guidance on financing schemes for cosmetic medical and surgical procedures

The Medical Board of Australia has expanded its guidance about financing schemes for doctors who provide cosmetic and surgical procedures, to make its expectations clearer.

The Board developed the new information to answer doctors’ questions about the Board’s expectations, given the increasing range of finance options available to consumers. It clarifies the 2016 Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who perform cosmetic medical and surgical procedures, which aim to improve safeguards for consumers.

The additional guidance doesn’t restrict patient access to finance or restrict medical practitioners from providing information to their patients about payment options. Under the guidelines, medical practitioners can provide information on their website about funding options and accepted payment methods but should not promote one form of payment over another or use payment options to encourage patients to access cosmetic procedures.

The information sheet is available on the Board’s fact sheets webpage.

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Chiropractic Board announces interim policy on spinal manipulation

The Chiropractic Board of Australia has set an interim policy on spinal manipulation for infants and young children while an independent review of the practice is carried out by Safer Care Victoria.

The Interim policy on spinal manipulation for infants and young children outlines the Board’s expectation that chiropractors not use spinal manipulation to treat children under two years of age, pending the recommendations arising from the review.

The Safer Care Victoria independent expert review will consider the current best evidence for the efficacy and risk of harm associated with spinal manipulation to treat childhood illnesses or health concerns in infants and young children.

The Chiropractic Board’s interim policy is available as a position statement under Codes and guidelines on the Board’s website.

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Learning from court and tribunal outcomes

The most serious matters under the National Law are heard by the relevant tribunal in each state and territory. These matters may be referred by the relevant National Board or by an individual health practitioner. AHPRA can prosecute individuals in some instances and these cases are heard by the relevant Magistrates’ Court.

Court and tribunal outcomes are independent and public. We publish summaries of these outcomes on the AHPRA and National Boards websites, as well as in our newsletters. This is important as it helps both registered practitioners and members of the public to understand the acceptable levels of care and behavior expected of health practitioners.

In the interest of transparency we also publish links to disciplinary decisions about a practitioner on the national register. The decisions we link to are those which involve adverse findings and which were delivered after the start of the National Scheme in 2010. These decisions are also publicly available on the websites mentioned below.

Below are some examples of court decisions from the past six months. For more information, follow the link in the summary, go to the Court and tribunal decisions page on the AHPRA website or access the full tribunal decisions on the Australian Legal Information Institute’s (AustLII) site.

Further information on tribunal decisions about practitioners in New South Wales is also published on the Health Care Complaints Commission website.

Company fined $30,600 for unlawful advertising

The Running Clinic (Australia) Pty Ltd (formerly trading as the Heel Clinic) was convicted of 10 charges related to advertising offences in a New South Wales Local Court following charges laid by AHPRA. These alleged that advertising claims on The Running Clinic’s websites and Facebook account contained false, misleading and deceptive claims about podiatry services that were likely to create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment. The company was fined $30,600 and ordered to pay AHPRA’s costs of $8,000.

AHPRA first raised the unlawful advertising with the company in 2015 and, while minor changes were made, it failed to significantly rectify the issues.

Landmark decision sees a suspended physiotherapist convicted and receiving largest fine ever

A Tasmanian court has imposed the largest fine against an individual for offences under the National Law with the conviction of a suspended physiotherapist, Mr Michael Sylvester Dempsey, for holding out. Mr Dempsey pleaded guilty to charges of holding out 11 people as registered physiotherapists or occupational therapists, when they were not. On 30 April 2019, he was convicted and fined $120,000.

AHPRA started its investigation after receiving a complaint from a registered chiropractor employed by Mr Dempsey’s company Libero Health Care Pty Ltd (Libero). AHPRA alleged that Libero was engaging unregistered people to provide regulated health services, specifically complex healthcare including pain management, to residents at aged care facilities. The people held out by Libero came from unrelated sectors including hospitality and transport and had been instructed to falsely assume/sign the names of registered practitioners when providing treatment to residents in the facilities they visited.

On 21 January 2019, Libero was placed into liquidation and is no longer trading and on 27 September 2018 Mr Dempsey had his registration as a physiotherapist suspended by the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.

Unregistered man convicted of holding out as a pharmacist

A New South Wales court convicted and fined a man for holding himself out as a registered pharmacist following charges laid by AHPRA. Mr Michael Simon was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay AHPRA’s legal costs of $4,000.

Mr Simon has never held registration under the National Law and is not eligible to be registered as a pharmacist. Mr Simon was alleged to have worked as a pharmacist between 25 and 29 June 2018 at a family owned pharmacy in Randwick. It was alleged that he had dispensed scheduled medications on numerous occasions on 25, 27, 28 and 29 June 2018 at the pharmacy.

The conduct was identified during a routine inspection of the pharmacy on 29 June 2018, when an inspector with the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales could not find registration details for Mr Simon on the public register of practitioners maintained by AHPRA. The inspector ordered that the pharmacy be closed and the Council referred the matter to AHPRA.

Dental assistant successfully prosecuted by AHPRA is convicted and fined

A New South Wales Local Court convicted dental assistant, Ms Sara Matthews, of offences under the National Law and fined her a total of $4,000 after pleading guilty to three charges filed by AHPRA. She was also ordered to pay AHPRA’s costs of $3,025.

Ms Matthews pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully claiming to be authorised or qualified to practise in a health profession; in this case, dentistry; and two counts of performing restricted dental acts. Ms Matthews has never held registration as a registered health practitioner or student under the National Law with any National Board, including the Dental Board of Australia. Ms Matthews was also charged with knowingly or recklessly using the description ‘dental assistant’ to indicate that she was authorised or qualified to practise the dental profession.

Counsellor convicted for a second time, fined $25,000 for claiming to be a psychologist

On 5 April 2019 a New South Wales court convicted a counsellor, Mr David Citer, of claiming to be a registered psychologist and unlawfully using the protected title ‘psychologist’. The court fined Mr Citer $25,000 and ordered him to pay AHPRA’s legal costs of $15,000.

Mr Citer has never held registration as health practitioner or student under the National Law with any National Board. He was previously convicted of a similar offence in May 2018, that of knowingly or recklessly using a title or word in an email that indicated he was authorised or qualified to practise as a psychologist. He was also convicted of providing false or misleading information to an AHPRA inspector. At sentencing, the court noted that Mr Citer’s offending occurred only two weeks after his previous conviction.

Suspended NSW pharmacist investigated by AHPRA, convicted and fined $24,500

The charges, filed by AHPRA, alleged that Mr Le had held himself out as a registered pharmacist between 8 August 2017 and 15 August 2018 in contravention of the National Law.

On 7 August 2017, the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales imposed an interim suspension on Mr Le’s registration after it determined that a suspension was appropriate for the protection of the health or safety of the public or was otherwise in the public interest. AHPRA alleged that despite this suspension, Mr Le continued to open and operate the pharmacy alone without a registered pharmacist on duty. Mr Le pleaded guilty and on 27 March 2019, the Local Court convicted him and imposed an aggregate fine of $24,500. He was ordered to pay legal costs to AHPRA of $15,000.

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Sharing learning opportunities with international regulators

AHPRA launches WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation

In April, AHPRA officially launched as a designated World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation in the Western Pacific Region.WHO launch with banner

AHPRA, working in partnership with the National Boards, joins a list of over 800 institutions in more than 80 countries supporting WHO programs in areas such as nursing development, communicable diseases, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.

Strengthening the regulation of the health workforce is an important part of the WHO’s global strategy to build the human resources needed for access to safe and quality healthcare across the world.

As a designated WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation, we’re excited by the opportunity to share expertise and promote dialogue that collectively improves the standard of regulatory practice within the WHO Western Pacific Region. We know that the global health workforce crosses country borders and is mobile, including in Australia where thousands of overseas-qualified practitioners are registered and take up practice here. It’s important that regulators from different countries work together to collaborate on standards for practitioner education, competence and conduct necessary for the global health workforce to deliver safe and reliable healthcare.

As a WHO collaborating centre AHPRA will:

  • help the WHO in providing technical support to strengthen health workforce regulatory systems in member states
  • support the WHO in promoting the adoption of contemporary regulatory approaches to health workforce regulation, and
  • strengthen the capacity, skills and knowledge of regulators in member states under the WHO’s guidance.

We’re proud to be designated a WHO Collaborating Centre and thank the WHO for this exciting opportunity.

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Research Summit − harnessing research for effective regulation that improves patient safety

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme 2019 Research Summit took place on 27 February at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Led by AHPRA and the National Boards, the all-day Research Summit hosted 17 speakers and drew more than 300 participants from national, state and territory board and committee members, AHPRA staff, co-regulatory bodies, representatives from accreditation authorities and key partners.

With the theme ‘Optimising research for regulatory effectiveness’, the Research Summit explored the National Scheme’s evolving approaches to risk assessment, lessons from research into notifications, and future opportunities to use smart data. At the heart of discussions was asking how we can use data and research to improve regulatory processes and, ultimately, contribute to safer care for patients.

Professor Zubin Austin from the University of Toronto, Canada, was a keynote speaker. His stirring address highlighted that competency assessment has emerged as a dominant issue for regulators, educators and employers worldwide. Professor Austin called for more attention to be focused on notions of teamwork, emotional intelligence, and genuine practitioner engagement as important concepts in defining and evaluating competency.

Read more in the media release about the summit.

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New projects and programs

Cultural safety and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy

The public consultation on the definition of ‘cultural safety’ for use within the National Scheme closed on Friday 24 May. We received around 120 submissions from a range of stakeholders including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers, health organisations, medical colleges, National Boards, education institutions and health practitioners. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group and the National Health Leadership Forum will now consider the outcomes of the consultation to finalise the definition.

Following a week hosting the IndigenousX Twitter account, co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Professor Gregory Phillips, published an article in The Guardian. His article, ‘Australia must embrace cultural safety if we are to close the gap’, on self-determination and the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of teaching cultural safety, received great social media attention: it was shared 847 times and received 54 comments.

We are also developing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025. It outlines the strategic priorities and key short- and long-term actions for our work to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health equity and patient safety within the health system.

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AHPRA in numbers

 

Web page views
First-time visits to website
Facebook image
Twitter followers

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Health workforce update

 

Profession growth
Top jusrisdictions by growth

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National Board news

Publications and projects roundup

The National Boards publish regular e-newsletters and communiqués on their activities, which you can read on their websites. Recent publications and projects are listed below.

Early this year, each Board also published an annual report summary that highlights its work over the year to 30 June 2018. These summaries contain profession-specific registration and regulation statistics. You can view and download the summaries on the Annual Report 2017/18 Downloads page.

All Boards

Practitioners’ responsibility to support public health programs
Company fined $30,600 for unlawful advertising
AHPRA launches WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation
Have your say: How should we define ‘cultural safety’?
Call for expressions of interest from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples for appointment to Community Reference Group
New resource focuses on titles in health advertising
Australian and international health regulation experts gather for the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) 2019 Research Summit
‘Let’s talk about it’ videos launched to support patients and practitioners when a concern is raised
Legislative amendments on mandatory reporting and fake practitioners
Landmark decision sees a suspended physiotherapist convicted and receiving largest fine ever

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia

Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Released quarterly registration data

Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

Appeal by Chinese medicine practitioner against sentence successful
Call for applications – Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee
Call for applications - Chinese Medicine Reference Group (New Graduate Practitioner)
Announced the latest appointments to the Chinese Medicine Reference Group.
Call for applications – vacancy for a community member from any state or territory arising on the Board
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Call for applications - Registration and Notifications Committee and Policy, Planning and Communications Committee
Released quarterly registration data
Invited practitioners, students and stakeholders of Chinese medicine to attend an information forum in Hobart

Chiropractic Board of Australia

Announced interim policy on spinal manipulation
Former chiropractor’s appeal leads to ten-year disqualification
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Released quarterly registration data

Dental Board of Australia

Dental assistant successfully prosecuted by AHPRA is convicted and fined
Released quarterly registration data
Recognised practitioners’ role in protection of the public on international day
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018

Medical Board of Australia

Medical practitioner suspended for conduct online
Updated description of Category C in the Competent Authority pathway
Call for applications – State and territory boards
GP suspended after relationship with patient
Tribunal maintains conditions on medical practitioner’s registration following appeal
Improper prescribing of peptides leads to four-month suspension
Additional guidance on financing schemes for cosmetic medical and surgical procedures
GP suspended for six months after inappropriately providing care to family members and exposing patients to potential harm
Consulted on complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Released quarterly registration data
Obstetrician reprimanded, fined and suspended for professional misconduct
Tribunal reprimands medical practitioner for prescribing medication for himself and his partner
Tribunal cautions doctor for unsatisfactory professional conduct

Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

Revised professional capabilities webinar recording now available
Practitioners urged to have their say on revised professional capabilities
Call for applications for vacancy for a practitioner member from South Australia and WA on the Board
Released quarterly registration data

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Tribunal disqualifies former nurse for four years for criminal behaviour
Tribunal reprimands nurse for professional misconduct
Reminded health services and employers of nurses about the requirements of student registration
Reminded nurses and midwives to renew their registration by 31 May
Thanked nurses on International Nurses Day
Thanks midwives on International Day of the Midwife
Opened public consultation on the proposed Decision-making framework for nurses and midwives 
Opened public consultation on proposed changes to its definitions relating to advanced practice
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
English language skills registration standard (2019) takes effect for nurses and midwives
Tribunal suspends nurse for failing to provide chaperoning for doctor
Revised re-entry to practice policy takes effect for nurses and midwives
Provided an update on bridging programs for internationally qualified nurses
Tribunal disqualifies nurse for 12 months for breaching conditions
Tribunal suspends nurse for seven months for falsifying documents 

Occupational Therapy Board of Australia

Improved health outcomes and cultural responsiveness the focus of occupational therapy partnership
Released quarterly registration data
Revised accreditation standards approved by the Board
Produced and published a new animated video introducing the Australian occupational therapy competency standards
Call for applications – vacancy for a practitioner member from Victoria on the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia. 
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
New competency standards for occupational therapists are in effect 

Optometry Board of Australia

Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018

Osteopathy Board of Australia

Board thanks osteopaths for their contribution to healthcare on international day
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Released quarterly registration data

Paramedicine Board of Australia

Paramedicine Accreditation Committee membership announced
Call for applications – vacancy for a community member from any state or territory arising on the Board
Released its first official e-newsletter to registrants

Pharmacy Board of Australia

Board and AHPRA remember former Board Chair
Unregistered man convicted of holding out as a pharmacist
Suspended NSW pharmacist investigated by AHPRA, convicted and fined $24,500
Fake pharmacist pleads guilty to AHPRA charges
Suspended NSW pharmacist to be sentenced for claiming to be registered
Board seeks views on pharmacist prescribing
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Released quarterly registration data
Pharmacist disqualified from re-applying for registration for professional misconduct
Published an update on the Pharmacy prescribing forum outcomes
Pharmacist who sold testosterone reprimanded for professional misconduct

Physiotherapy Board of Australia

Landmark decision sees a suspended physiotherapist convicted and receiving largest fine ever
Updated FAQ published on animal physiotherapy
Call for applications – vacancy for a practitioner member from Tasmania on the Board
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018
Released quarterly registration data

Podiatry Board of Australia

Announced the membership of the new Podiatry Accreditation Committee
Decided that the accreditation functions for the profession will be exercised by an independent accreditation committee established by the Board for a five-year period 
Launched videos to support practitioners applying for an endorsement for scheduled medicines
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018

Psychology Board of Australia

Invited practitioners to participate in a focus group about mandatory reporting of health practitioners
Retirement of the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration
First new accreditation agreement signed: Contemporary framework for improved public protection
First national psychology exam quality assurance project completed
Counsellor convicted for a second time, fined $25,000 for claiming to be a psychologist
Counsellor and repeat offender pleads guilty to claiming to be a psychologist
Published a profession-specific annual report summary that highlights the work of the Board over the year to 30 June 2018

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In conversation with....

Ian Bluntish, Co-Convenor, Forum of NRAS ChairsIan Bluntish

Optometry Board of Australia Chair Ian Bluntish talks about his leadership of the Forum of National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) Chairs, a responsibility he shares with co-convenor and Agency Management Committee Chair Michael Gorton.

Can you briefly let us know about the purpose of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme forum?

The role of the forum is to help the profession-specific Boards to work individually but together under the National Scheme. This is crucial as we’ve grown from the initial 10 National Boards of 2010 to 15 Boards representing 16 professions in 2019.

We have three main objectives: to focus on the wellbeing of the National Scheme; to ensure coordinated strategy and national responses on public policy issues; and to facilitate cross-professional interaction and scheme consistency and efficiency.
It’s important that we each understand the other professions and the particular issues at play for them. For consistent contemporary health regulation, we all need to arrive at a common concept and way of applying it.

What attracted you to the role of forum co-convenor?

Having been around the National Scheme throughout its journey since COAG* decided to establish a single regulatory scheme, I’ve seen this role as a natural extension of my involvement. I enjoy the environment of the forum and the insight it provides into other professions’ regulatory experiences, their challenges and ideas, and the opportunity to be more effective in my role as Chair of the Optometry Board.
*Council of Australian Governments

What issues has the forum most recently focused on?

The forum gives Board Chairs the opportunity to have a greater leadership role within the scheme and in their Boards more specifically. The interaction with AHPRA staff helps significantly towards a better understanding of the organisational pressures of administering the regulatory functions.

Presentations from external organisations, which may influence our decision-making or, at the least, our view of our world, place context around the political and regulatory environment in which we operate. Information sharing between Boards about plans and activities helps with consistency and for us all to capitalise on the great work that has already been done.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities facing the scheme in the coming years?

The changing scopes of practice of professions will result in greater overlap with other professions in new and evolving clinical settings, and the role for regulators will become challenging. There’s also the use of technologies that blur the separation of the clinician from the technology and issues of accountability. This will lead to further challenges when the technologies are located remotely from the patient and potentially outside our jurisdiction.

On top of this we need to remain relevant and meet consumer and political expectations on why and how far we go in regulating healthcare professions.

What would you like to achieve during your 12-month term as co-convenor?

The role of the forum is very much about helping the profession-specific Boards to work individually but together under the scheme. Understanding all the other professions and coming to a common concept and application is vital for consistent contemporary health regulation. To achieve this goal we must have a place where the Chairs and the Boards are equally respected and valued and where there is a clear flow of communication and understanding.

Contributing to this development of interaction and whole of scheme consistency in regulation will be satisfying.

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If you have any comments or suggestions about AHPRA Report, please send them to newsletters@ahpra.gov.au

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Page reviewed 4/07/2019