Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Overview

Overview

Introduction 

The regulated health workforce 

This year we continued our work to support community access to safe, professional healthcare. We regulated more than 850,000 health practitioners in 16 professions. Aspiring health practitioners have more than 840 approved programs of study. Australia-wide, 18,710 notifications were made about 14,313 health practitioners – the National Boards and Ahpra managed 10,803 of those notifications. Clinical care continues to be the most common concern. Consistent with other years, 1.7% of the registered health workforce received a notification, once again demonstrating that the vast majority of the health workforce practises safely. 

Many notifications (over 60%) resulted in a National Board deciding that no further regulatory action was required, taking into account steps that may have already been put in place by a practitioner or their employer. 

We work hard to be transparent, fair and accountable. And we know that the complaints process is stressful for notifiers and practitioners. While regulation can be challenging, it plays a critical role in maintaining access to safe, quality healthcare. 

Highlights and initiatives 

We worked with health services when the healthcare system was experiencing changing demands due to outbreaks of COVID-19. This included the pandemic sub-registers, which allow eligible, recently retired health practitioners to help in areas of need. 

We continued our work to improve access to safer healthcare for everyone. To better understand barriers to making a complaint or notification, we conducted focus groups with communities who may find us inaccessible. We set up an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit at a senior level to progress our cultural safety work. We revised the regulatory principles that underpin our decision making, making it clear that public protection is our paramount objective, and explicitly calling out that we need to consider the potential risk to people vulnerable to harm and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in our decision making. We sought to better support notifiers and witnesses in sexual boundary cases by establishing the Notifier Support Service, staffed by social workers. 

We worked with practitioners and employers to support their professional practice. We updated the shared Code of conduct, embedding cultural safety, including greater clarity on clinical governance responsibilities for leaders, and providing more guidance for practitioners and employers to resolve disagreements within the workplace. 

Operationally, we worked more often in the digital space, having in the first year of the pandemic converted many previously paper- or face-to-face-dependent processes to online. We worked in and out of our offices, and from home, in response to health directives and advice. Boards and committees met online. This willingness of our workforce and National Boards to adapt and make it work sits alongside a profound commitment to public safety. 

We continued to adapt and respond to a changing regulatory environment and improve our own performance. Some of our initiatives: 

  • In the face of safety concerns surrounding the growing practice of cosmetic surgery, Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia commissioned the Independent review of the regulation of medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery.
  • We completed the future state design work for our transformation program, which lays the foundation for building new and streamlined business processes that will be digitally enabled.
  • We developed and published a service charter to make our commitments and obligations clear.
  • We established an independently chaired Accreditation Committee of the Agency Management Committee to provide independence, accountability and greater oversight.
  • We sought to amplify the voice of the community and ensure a diverse and inclusive membership in our re-named Community Advisory Council, one of our consultative forums.
  • We progressed a joint project with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to identify how we can improve the experience of people making a health complaint about care from registered health practitioners.
 

Martin Fletcher

Mr Martin Fletcher

Chief Executive Officer, Ahpra

Gill Callister

Ms Gill Callister PSM

Co-convenor, Forum of National Registration and Accreditation Chairs

Chair, Agency Management Committee, Ahpra

Brett Simmons

Mr Brett Simmonds

Co-convenor, Forum of National Registration and Accreditation Chairs

Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia

In 2021/22

Registration 

852,272 registered health practitioners in Australia, across 16 professions 

  • 26,552 (3.2%) more registrants than last year 
  • 20,781 registrants on the pandemic sub-registers 
  • 85,052 applications for registration 
  • 9,275 health practitioners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander 
  • 184,353 students studying to be health practitioners 

Accreditation 

More than 840 approved programs of study delivered by more than 130 education providers

Notifications 

18,710 notifications made about 14,313 practitioners nationally 

  • That’s 1.7% of all registered health practitioners and an increase of 6.2% from 2020/21 
  • 10,803 notifications about 8,380 practitioners received by Ahpra 
  • The most common concern was clinical care 

Compliance 

2,568 practitioners monitored by Ahpra during the year to ensure compliance with restrictions placed on their registration for concerns about health, performance and/or conduct

Legal 

191 matters determined by tribunals 

  • 98.4% resulted in disciplinary action 
  • 103 appeals lodged in tribunals about National Board decisions 
  • 96 appeals finalised: 
    • 11 no change 
    • 46 withdrawn 
    • 22 decision amended or substituted 
    • 17 dismissed 
  • 10 successful prosecutions 
  • 499 advertising-related complaints received 
  • 317 new offence complaints received about title protection

Increasing representation 

13 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Board and committee members were appointed following targeted recruitment campaigns

 
 
 
Page reviewed 22/11/2022