10 things you need to know about notifications

Ahpra has published a new guide which explains how the National Law is applied in the management of health practitioner notifications

Ahpra’s new Regulatory Guide sets out how the National Board for each health profession manages notifications about the health, performance and conduct of practitioners under Part 8 of the National Law.

CEO Martin Fletcher said, “We developed the Regulatory guide because we know that transparency is critical for building trust and confidence in what we do.

“We want practitioners, notifiers, and the public more broadly, to better understand how and why decisions are made.”

Here are 10 key takeaways from the guide:

1. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) came into operation in each state and territory in 2010, having been adopted by the parliament of each state and territory through adopting legislation. There are some differences between jurisdictions as to the extent to which the National Law has been adopted. This affects what Ahpra or a Board can do in specific jurisdictions.

2. A person who, in good faith, makes a notification or gives information in the course of an investigation by a Board or Ahpra, is not liable civilly, criminally or under an administrative process for giving the information. “Good faith” is not defined in the National Law so it adopts its ordinary meaning of “well-intentioned or without malice”.

3. Practitioners may be subject to regulatory action for conduct occurring while unregistered. Notifications may also be made, and subsequent regulatory action taken by a Board, about a registered practitioner about their personal conduct, in some circumstances.

4. Upon receipt of a notification about a health practitioner or a student, Ahpra must refer the notification to the applicable Board(s) for preliminary assessment. A Board must, within 60 days after receiving a notification, conduct a preliminary assessment. A Board may decide, at the preliminary assessment stage, to take no further action regarding the notification.

5. If a Board believes that it is necessary to take further action about the notification it may start an investigation into the practitioner; consider taking immediate action about the practitioner; consider warning or imposing conditions; require a health or performance assessment; or refer the practitioner to a panel hearing or tribunal.

detective with magnifying glass

6. A Board will take immediate action to restrict or suspend a practitioner’s ability to practice if it reasonably believes that interim regulatory action is necessary to protect the public from a serious risk, or is otherwise in the public interest.

7. Investigators appointed under the National Law have various statutory powers to obtain evidence and information relevant to an investigation, including powers requiring a person to provide information, answer questions or produce documents, and powers permitting the investigator to search places (such a practitioner’s residence, or place of practice) and seize objects or documents.

8. At the conclusion of an investigation, the investigator must provide the relevant Board with a written report. The Board will then consider the investigator’s report and decide whether or not to take further action about the matter.

gavel court legal9. A Board must refer a matter to a responsible tribunal if it forms a reasonable belief that a practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes professional misconduct, or a practitioner’s registration was improperly obtained because the practitioner or someone else gave the Board information or a document that was false or misleading in a material particular. After a decision has been made to refer a matter to a responsible tribunal, the Board will start a disciplinary proceeding against the practitioner.

10. Decision-makers, when considering the form of determinations that are appropriate in a particular case, will consider factors including:

  • Specific deterrence
  • General deterrence
  • Protection of / confidence in the profession
  • Maintenance of professional standards
  • Rehabilitation
  • Insight
  • Remorse
  • Evidence of good character
  • Level of experience
  • Delay
  • Personal circumstances
  • Disciplinary history
  • Impact on complainant/victim
  • Impact on patient community.

Some of these principles or factors will be given more or less weight than others (or not considered at all), depending on the facts and circumstances of the matter.

Find the full regulatory guide here

For 24/7 confidential incident support for employee and owner pharmacists, members can call PDL on 1300 854 838 Australia wide.

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