Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Frequently asked questions
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Frequently asked questions

Published on 14 January 2022. Updated on 1 September 2022.

Today cosmetic surgery is a significant commercial industry. Concerns have been raised that practices and methods of promotion by some registered health practitioners within this industry may be are creating both ethical dilemmas and significant patient safety issues.

Regulation of cosmetic surgery is multifaceted, involving multiple state, territory and national regulators. Effective regulation requires clarity of roles and responsibilities and efficient information sharing.

The purpose of the review was to examine the existing regulation and regulatory practices in use by Ahpra and the relevant National Boards to ensure they have kept pace with rapid changes in the cosmetic surgery industry and to make recommendations for any required changes.

The reviewer worked with an expert panel.

The expert panel comprised of Mr Alan Kirkland (CEO, CHOICE), Conjoint Professor Anne Duggan (Chief Medical Officer, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care) and Ms Richelle McCausland (National Health Practitioner Ombudsman).

Two advisory groups were established to provide advice to the review:

  • Consumer Reference and Advisory Group – membership included consumer organisations as well as representatives with expertise in marketing and psychosocial aspects of cosmetic surgery.
  • Technical Advisory Group – membership included clinicians from a range of specialities and areas of practice.

The public consultation closed on 14 April 2022. Cosmetic surgery patients, members of the public and health practitioners were are all invited to provide feedback during the six-week consultation.

The final report and full recommendations, along with Ahpra and the Medical Board’s response, is published on the review’s webpage. Further details about the public consultation and the submissions received are on the on the ‘Past consultations’ page on the Ahpra website.

Ahpra and the Medical Board will provide updates via the review’s webpage and their own news hubs. The Medical Board will also keep practitioners updated via their monthly newsletter.

The ‘Review of the regulation of health practitioners in cosmetic surgery’ was an independent review commissioned by Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia.

It is separate to the Health Ministers’ consultation about the use of the title ‘surgeon’ by medical practitioners. Ahpra and the National Boards welcomed this consultation.

The review commissioned by Ahpra and the Medical Board may help to inform the Health Ministers’ work.

An update on that Health Ministers' consultation is available.

Public safety is our number one priority and we take all notifications seriously.

A hotline for cosmetic complaints has been set up on 1300 361 041. The public can call during business hours (AEST) Monday to Friday to report their cosmetic surgery experiences to a specialised team supporting the newly established Cosmetic Surgery Enforcement Unit. They can do this confidentially if they choose.

Patients who are dissatisfied with a service provided by a registered health practitioner are able to raise their concerns and even seek compensation directly from the practitioner. Sometimes these claims are resolved between the patient and the practitioner, who then also sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) about it.

An NDA is a contract in which a person agrees not to disclose certain confidential information to other people, called third parties.

Some people who have signed an NDA, might also want to make a notification to Ahpra about the performance or conduct of the practitioner, but may feel constrained from doing so.

We think that NDAs do not prevent patients from making a notification.

If you have signed an NDA and want to make a notification to Ahpra, we encourage you to check with your lawyer to make sure they have no concerns about you raising your concern with us in a notification.  

Section 237 of the National Law is relevant to this. This section means that someone who, in good faith, makes a notification or provides information under the National Law, is not liable civilly, criminally or under an administrative process for giving information.

Page reviewed 24/10/2022