AHPRA’s ‘busiest year ever’

One in 17 working people in Australia are registered as a health practitioner, new figures show

More than 41,500 new registered health practitioners joined the National Scheme in 2018/19, AHPRA says in its annual report.

This number was boosted by the registration of more than 17,000 paramedics, who became registered for the first time.

Nurses and midwives make up 56% of the registered workers, while medical practitioners are in second place at 16%. Pharmacists (4.3%) come in fifth place, after physiotherapists and psychologists.

There are 31,955 pharmacists, up 2.7% from 2017-18, of whom 62.8% are female.

“We welcomed 41,696 new health practitioners into the National Scheme in 2018/19. That means one in every 17 people working in Australia is a registered health practitioner.

“To ensure this large group is trained, qualified and competent, there are now over 1,000 approved programs of study,” AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said.

The report also shows AHPRA directly received 9,338 concerns (notifications) about registered health practitioners and closed 8,979 during 2018/19.

“This was our busiest year ever with more notifications received and more notifications closed than ever before,” said Mr Fletcher.

“AHPRA works in close partnership with the National Boards. Our annual report highlights the combined work we do to regulate health practitioners efficiently and effectively to keep the community safe,” said Mr Fletcher.

“We are committed to improving the notification experience for both notifiers and practitioners and this report indicates we are making progress. The number of notifications received by AHPRA also suggests the public are becoming more aware of their option to report their health care concerns.”

For pharmacists, immediate action was taken 19 times, while 453 cases were closed: of these 11.5% accepted an undertaking or accepted conditions on their registration, 29.1% received a caution or reprimand, 1.5% had their registration cancelled or suspended; 6% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity and for 51.9% no further action was taken.

Over the year,139 pharmacists were monitored for health, performance and/or conduct; as at 30 June 143 cases were being monitored.

Of these seven were on the grounds of conduct, 23 for health reasons, 30 for performance, 21 were prohibited practitioners/students, and 62 for suitability/eligibility for registration.

Meanwhile16 criminal offence complaints were made and 21 closed.

Insights from the year include: 

  • There were over 41,696 more registered health practitioners, totalling 744,437 health practitioners across 16 regulated professions.
  • Student registrations increased by over 21,000 registrants to 182,657.
  • 17,323 paramedics registered for the first time in 2018/19 after officially joining the National Scheme in December.
  • Across the professions, the largest growth in registrants (aside from paramedicine) was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners +7.6%, occupational therapy +6.9% and osteopathy +6.6%.
  • 1 in 17 people working in Australia is a registered health professional with 75% of all registrants being female.
  • AHPRA received more notifications in 2018/19 than in any other year since the National Scheme began (9,338), an increase of 14.3%.
  • Nationally (including data for the Office of the Health Ombudsman and the Health Professional Councils Authority) 15,858 notifications were received. 12,445 practitioners had a notification made about them (1.7% of all registered health practitioners). The top three reasons for a notification made to AHPRA were clinical care (46.3%), medication issues (10.7%) and health impairment (6.5%).
  • While AHPRA received more notifications than ever before, it also closed more than ever before during the year (8,979). AHPRA also reduced the average time taken to resolve a notification by 5.1%.
  • AHPRA received 380 new offence complaints relating to title and practice protection and 668 complaints related to advertising.
  • 2,584 practitioners were monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year.
  • AHPRA completed 15 proceedings in the Magistrates’ and Local Courts. All prosecution resulted in convictions.

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