The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - yeah I know, let’s go with AHPRA. AHPRA is a national body that supports Australia’s 14 National Health Practitioner Boards (“National Boards”), who are:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
- Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
- Chiropractic Board of Australia
- Dental Board of Australia
- Medical Board of Australia
- Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
- Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
- Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
- Optometry Board of Australia
- Osteopathy Board of Australia
- Pharmacy Board of Australia
- Physiotherapy Board of Australia
- Podiatry Board of Australia
- Psychology Board of Australia
The National Boards regulate the health professions and are themselves regulated by the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (“the Scheme”). AHPRA and the National Boards work together to implement the Scheme. I found this very handy infographic on the AHPRA website outlining the objectives of the Scheme.
"Anyone can make a notification to AHPRA about a registered health professional. "
One aspect of AHPRA’s role and each of the National Board’s roles is protecting the public. To assist, in part, with this role they deal with complaints about registered health professionals. Complaints made to AHPRA about a registered health professional are called ‘notifications’.
Anyone can make a notification to AHPRA about a registered health professional. AHPRA then manage the notification process for all National Boards. It is the responsibility of AHPRA and the National Boards to make sure “only practitioners who have the skills and qualifications to provide safe care are registered to practise.”
AHPRA has a consistent process for managing notifications but there is no uniform response as every notification is different. The fact that a notification has been made does not automatically affect a practitioner’s ability to practise unless the notification indicates there is a serious risk to public safety.
After the notification is lodged there is an assessment of the notification and an investigation by the appropriate National Board commences. This is a long process. I have known it take over 12 months. Usually the person who has made the notification will receive a response outlining the basic outcome of the investigation once it is complete.
If you are in South Australia and a patient or family/friend of a patient and want to make a notification to AHPRA you will need to use the appropriate form which is available on the AHPRA website. An appropriately experienced lawyer can assist with this process.
If you are a health practitioner, employer or education provider you are required (that is you do not have a choice) to make notifications to AHPRA in relation to a registered health professional practicing under any of the following situations:
- engaging in sexual misconduct in connection with their practice;
- practicing impaired; or
- practicing in a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
An appropriately experienced lawyer can assist with this process
If you are a health professional and a notification has been made to AHPRA in relation to your practice you will need to respond to the notifications and you may have obligations to be met under your professional indemnity insurance. If you do not have professional indemnity insurance you will still need to respond to AHPRA.
All notifications to AHPRA should be taken seriously and responded to appropriately as there may be professional implications and legal implications for you as a health professional. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice from an appropriately experienced lawyer as a matter of priority.