In 2015 we celebrate five years of the work of AHPRA and the National Boards in implementing the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme or NRAS). So much has changed since 2010 and this past year, in particular, has seen huge steps taken to ensure we are fulfilling our core purpose of protecting the public in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
This year’s annual report sets out what we have achieved in 2014/15 and what difference we have made. We now register over 637,000 health practitioners in Australia across 14 National Boards. In this annual report you will find details of registrations and notifications during 2014/15, as well as an overview of the work we have done to ensure the National Scheme maintains professional standards for practitioners and manages risk to patients.
The scheduled, independent review of the National Scheme hit its stride this past year, with Mr Kim Snowball leading the review for the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. The review considered the National Scheme as a whole, including the work of the National Boards, AHPRA, accrediting entities and the role of governments. The review aimed to identify what was working well in the National Scheme, and opportunities to improve and strengthen our work to protect the public and facilitate access to health services.
The National Boards and AHPRA actively participated in the consultation and review process, while continuing our work to improve and strengthen the performance of the National Scheme. A formal joint submission was provided to inform the consultation process and is published on the AHPRA website.
The past year also saw the introduction of new co-regulatory arrangements in Queensland. While effective working relationships have been established with the Office of the Health Ombudsman, as expected with any new arrangements, there have been issues to address. The National Boards and AHPRA remain committed to continuing to build a positive working relationship with the Office of the Health Ombudsman to assure the protection of the health and safety of the Queensland public.
In July 2014, AHPRA implemented a national organisational restructure. This has delivered significant benefits in relation to our regulatory performance, engagement with key stakeholders and overall responsiveness to regulatory issues. AHPRA will continue to improve its performance to ensure the quality, timeliness and responsiveness of our delivery of regulatory services to the community. This will include actively exploring further ways to organise and streamline our services nationally to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
We continue to improve the way we manage notifications. A particular focus over the past year has been to reduce the length of time it takes to assess and investigate notifications, and to improve the way we communicate information to both notifiers and practitioners.
Making the most of our data has been increasingly important as we aim to become a risk-based regulator. Over the past year we have placed a significant emphasis on the analysis of these data in order to ensure that we take an evidence-informed approach to regulatory decision-making and regulatory policy that is proportionate to the risk posed. This has been supported by a set of common regulatory principles across the National Boards and AHPRA.
Our work as a national, multi-profession regulatory scheme has gained international attention. The National Boards and AHPRA have continued to work closely together this year to test and implement new ways of doing things. This includes opportunities for greater cross-profession collaboration to improve our effectiveness and simplify our ways of working, as well as our collaboration with regulators overseas to bring the best of international experience to inform our work in Australia.
The registered health workforce continues to grow and the regulatory and health environment continues to evolve. In the coming year we will keep working on being responsive, flexible and agile in the face of these changing needs. Our core focus is on protecting the public by regulating health practitioners cost-effectively to facilitate access to safer healthcare.
The National Boards and AHPRA will actively build on the outcomes of the National Scheme review to continue to improve the ways we work in the public interest. The strong partnership between the National Boards and AHPRA is an important foundation for this work.
We will also continue to reach out to the community and the professions to engage with us on important regulatory issues. It is important that all stakeholders understand and have confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulation of health practitioners. Our work on improving the notifier and practitioner experience when engaging with us will also continue as an important focus.
We want to increase the public benefit from the use of our data for practitioner regulation, health workforce planning and research. We have some of the most complete health workforce and profession-specific data available in the world.
While there is still much to do, we have made some significant achievements through the hard work and dedication of board and committee members, and AHPRA staff. The support of health ministers has also been greatly appreciated.
Service, achievement and collaboration are the cornerstones of all our work. These core values provide a solid foundation for the upcoming year, which will undoubtedly bring both new opportunities and challenges.