AHPRA is calling for changes that would mean pharmacists could nominate one or more aliases to be recorded on the public register
Any changes could also empower AHPRA to record an alias used by a practitioner on the public register, whether the practitioner has applied to do so or not.
The agency has recently consulted with governments on possible changes to the National Law, which would allow them to publish names that registered health practitioners use in practice – and not just their legal name – on the national online register of practitioners.
AHPRA says it believes recording additional names or aliases on the register will help to inform and protect the public, by making it easier to identify a practitioner who is able to practise but not using their legal name.
This national online register of practitioners is a vital part of Australia’s system of regulating pharmacists to support patient safety, says the Pharmacy Board.
“AHPRA and the Board know that some pharmacists may be practising using a name that is different from their legally recognised name published on the register (an alias),” it says.
“The national online register must remain an authoritative and trusted source of information about health practitioners. Consumers rely on it for accurate and up-to-date information to inform their healthcare decision-making and employers rely on it to validate their employees’ registration status.”
“Some registered health practitioners practise under a different name to that which appears on the public
register,” reads the 2018 consultation paper on practitioner regulation by the COAG Health Council.
“There may be legitimate reasons for this, such as safety or privacy concerns, or where the
practitioner has adopted and uses an anglicised name in their practice.
“However, there are occasions where an applicant for registration or a registered health practitioner has
used one or more aliases to avoid detection of criminal or complaints history, or to make it more difficult
to identify them for the purposes of making a notification,” states the paper.
“Publication of aliases used by a practitioner may help the public more easily find a practitioner on the public register to review their entry.
“It is not intended that shortened versions of names be considered an alias, for example, a practitioner who is registered as ‘Jennifer’ but practises as ‘Jenny’.”
The Pharmacy Board points out that there may also be risks of unintended consequences, including whether publishing aliases could be used for commercial gain or benefits that are not related to public information and protection, which is the focus of the National Law.
“AHPRA and the Board will keep practitioners and the public informed of any changes to the law and reporting requirements,” it says.