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COAG Health Council announces new policy directions


Matt Woodley


22/01/2020 4:09:00 PM

The directions are designed to provide clarity on what AHPRA and the National Boards must analyse when considering action against a practitioner.

Concerned doctor sitting in front of her computer.
COAG has emphasised public protection is the paramount consideration for any potential action against a health practitioner.

The directions reinforce that consultation with patient safety and healthcare consumer bodies is required for any new or revised registration standards, codes or guidelines, while emphasising that public protection is the paramount consideration for any potential regulatory action against a health practitioner.
 
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) Chief Executive Martin Fletcher welcomed the directions. He said the new guidelines clearly articulate what National Boards and AHPRA need to take into account when administering the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
 
‘As the national regulators, it is AHPRA and the National Boards’ responsibility to protect the public and prevent harm,’ Mr Fletcher said.
 
‘We are pleased that most health practitioners practise safely and well. In 2018–19, around 98% of all registered practitioners did not have any concerns reported about their conduct, health or performance.
 
‘However, these directions provide a clear mandate for National Boards to consider, in those cases where the public may be at risk, the potential impact of a practitioner’s conduct on the public, including vulnerable people community, when determining whether to take regulatory action.’
 
The first policy direction details the considerations that National Boards and AHPRA must give to the public, including vulnerable people in the community, when determining whether to take regulatory action about a health practitioner.
 
It also authorises limited sharing of information to employers and state and territory health departments about serious conduct matters by a registered health practitioner.
 
The second policy direction requires National Boards to consult with patient safety and consumer bodies on registration standards, codes and guidelines when they are being developed or revised.
 
It also provides that National Boards and AHPRA must: 

  • consider the impacts of the new or revised registration standard on vulnerable members of the community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • prepare and publish a ‘patient health and safety impact statement’ with each new or revised registration standard, code or guideline. 
‘Consultation with a broad range of stakeholders is something we regularly undertake, so we welcome this direction to ensure the perspectives, experience and expertise of patient safety organisations and consumers are considered during the development and review of standards, codes and guidelines,’ Mr Fletcher said.
 
‘We know that fairness is important to practitioners and patients alike, and this will continue to be an important focus in our processes and procedures.’
 
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AHPRA Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Medical Board of Australia National Registration and Accreditation Scheme



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