Case highlights importance of renewal

tribunal hearing legal case

A doctor who continued practicing after their registration lapsed has been given a two-year good behaviour bond

The Medical Board of Australia has issued a statement about the South Australian palliative care doctor, who pleaded guilty to the offence following prosecution by Ahpra.

The doctor failed to renew their registration on time, and it lapsed in September 2018.

But they continued to practise, despite not holding registration to do so, until their registration status was discovered by their employer, and they were stood down.

The Board highlighted that falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner is a criminal offence under the National Law.

A magistrate has now sentenced the doctor, without recording a conviction.

The court imposed a two-year good behaviour bond and ordered costs of $1,210 be paid to Ahpra.

As required in South Australia, the doctor was also ordered to pay a compulsory victims of crime levy of $240. If the doctor fails to comply with the conditions of the $5,000 bond they will be brought back to court for conviction and sentence.

Magistrate McLeod commented that it was “vitally important” persons who professed to have professional qualifications, such as doctors, be registered and regulated. In matters, such as the one before the court, a conviction would ordinarily follow, he said.

However, Magistrate McLeod took into account the doctor’s exceptional personal circumstances and concluded that, in this case, a conviction could have “disproportionate consequences”.

Medical Board of Australia Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said maintaining current registration was a core professional obligation for all registered health practitioners.

“The public should be confident that when they see a medical practitioner they are being treated by a registered practitioner,” she said.

“All practitioners must be certain that they are registered before treating any patient.”

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher welcomed the outcome.

“Public trust in our registered health professions is paramount,” he said.

“I hope this outcome is a strong reminder to other health practitioners about the importance of not practising their profession when not registered.”

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