From 2017-18, AHPRA received more notifications than in any other year and medication issues comprised 12.6% –but only 6% of notifications were about pharmacists

For the year to 30 June 2018, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) received more notifications than in any other year since the National Scheme began, according to its 2017-18 Annual Report.

There were 7,276 notifications during the year – an increase of 5.5% nationally, involving just over 1% of the now 702,741 registered health practitioners.

The top three notifier complaints related to clinical care (41%), medication issues (12.6%) and health impairment (8.9%).

During 2017-18, 451 notifications were lodged with AHPRA about pharmacists, with two of these made about students.

This equates to 1.9% of all registered pharmacists that had notifications made about them.

Meanwhile 3,749 notifications were lodged with AHPRA about medical practitioners – or 5.1% of all registered medical practitioners.

About 14% of pharmacist notifications resulted in accepting an undertaking or conditions being imposed on the pharmacist’s registration, while 29.7% resulted in a pharmacist receiving a caution or reprimand by the Board.

Just 0.2% resulted in suspension of registration and 0.2% resulted in a fine, while 54.7% resulted in no further action being taken.

The remaining 1% were referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity.

AHPRA says that it has improved management of notifications about practitioners.

“While we received more notifications than ever before, we also closed more than ever before during the year,” they say, adding that they have closed 7,105 notifications during 2017-18.

Monitoring and compliance: AHPRA monitored 5,005 practitioners’ registration in 2017/18, with the aim to ensure public safety.

Just over 170 cases related to a pharmacist were being monitored by AHPRA as at 30 June 2018: 17 on the grounds of conduct, 19 for health reasons, 32 for performance, 11 prohibited practitioners/students, and 93 for suitability/eligibility for registration.

“The majority of active monitoring cases related to additional requirements about suitability and eligibility for registration,” said the organisation.

Mandatory notifications: There was also a 7.2% increase in mandatory notifications received by AHPRA in 2018.

Forty-four mandatory notifications were made about pharmacists: 36 about standards, seven about impairment, and one about sexual misconduct.

Prosecutions to protect the public: During 2017-18, AHPRA completed 13 proceedings in the Magistrates’ and Local Courts across all health professions.

All 13 prosecutions resulted in findings of guilt.

Nearly all (97%) of matters decided nationally by tribunals this year resulted in regulatory action.

“AHPRA works in close partnership with the National Boards,” said AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher.

“Our Annual Report highlights the joint work we do to regulate health practitioners efficiently and effectively to keep the community safe.”

AHPRA and the National Boards are responsible for the registration of every practitioner in the registered health professions across Australia.