Podiatry Board of Australia - April 2024
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April 2024

Issue 34 – April 2024

From the Chair

Photo of Cylie Williams

After a thorough investigation, the final report of the independent review of the regulation of podiatric surgeons in Australia is now published. I want to thank all podiatric surgeons and podiatrists who engaged with Professor Ron Paterson during the review to help him understand the important work we do. I am also grateful to Professor Paterson for his work to understand the risks associated with podiatric surgery and how we can make this safer in the future. You can read more about the 14 recommendations to the Board and Ahpra below.

We understand you may be concerned about what some of these recommendations mean to the profession and want to stress that you will have the opportunity to have your say on any critical changes in relation to the regulation of podiatric surgeons. This includes proposed change to the protected title, and updates to guidelines or notifications processes. Be sure to keep an eye out for invitations to participate in the coming year.

Cylie Williams
Chair, Podiatry Board of Australia

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Priority news

Board accepts all 14 recommendations of independent review of regulation of podiatric surgeons

The Podiatry Board of Australia and Ahpra commissioned an independent review in October 2023 after concerns were raised about the high rates of complaints or notifications about podiatric surgeons. The Board sought an independent assessment of the current regulatory framework for podiatric surgeons to identify any risks to patient safety and to recommend improvements to better protect the public.

The final report from the Independent review of the regulation of podiatric surgeons in Australia was published at the end of March 2024.

The review found that a ‘good standard of care is provided by podiatric surgeons’ with only a small number of practitioners generating the higher rate of notifications. No evidence was found requiring the need to reduce or regulate the scope of practice for podiatric surgeons. However, the review recommended implementing measures to improve some aspects of the accreditation assessment of education programs and aligning ongoing continuing professional development requirements more closely with those of medical practitioners.

Concerns were also raised about the title ‘podiatric surgeon’ in relation to clarity and transparency for the consumer about the type of practitioner they are seeing, and the type of training the practitioner has completed.

Any decision to change the specialist title for podiatric surgeons will be made by Australia’s health ministers following wide-ranging consultation by the Board, which is expected to start later this year. All podiatric surgeons and podiatrists will be given an opportunity to have their say on any proposed changes.

Read the full media release and the Board’s response to the recommendations on our website.

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Board news

Have you planned your CPD for this year?

To get the most out of your continuing professional development we recommend you develop a plan. This starts with reflecting on your practice, identifying any gaps in your skills and knowledge and then planning your CPD activities to address your learning needs.

We encourage you to use the professional capabilities to help reflect on your practice. This will ensure your knowledge and skills are up to date and reflect current evidence-based practice.

The Board has published a CPD learning plan to help you plan your CPD for the year. You can find it on the CPD resources page together with the registration standard, guidelines and other resources.

It is important that your CPD is relevant to your scope of practice and if your registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines, this includes activities relevant to your endorsement.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 December 2023. At this date there were 6,203 registered podiatric practitioners, including 5,942 with general registration, 40 with both general and specialist registration, and 221 with non-practising registration.

There are 224 practitioners with endorsement for scheduled medicines.

For further data breakdowns by age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.

Regulation news

Unregistered podiatrist fined after Ahpra prosecution

An unregistered practitioner who produced a fake registration certificate has been convicted of holding themselves out as a registered podiatrist after their registration had lapsed. Charges were laid by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).

Read more in the news item.

Students and graduates

Beware of identity theft – don’t post your registration certificate online

Successfully registering with Ahpra is the last green light for new graduates starting their career in their chosen profession. It’s an exciting step and one to feel immensely proud of. The temptation might be strong to celebrate by sharing your first registration certificate with the world – but think twice before posting.

Identity theft is rife. Every day, websites pop up selling fake Ahpra certificates of registration based on real ones that graduating practitioners have posted on their social media. Never post your identity documents online. You’ve worked hard to earn your registration; don’t let somebody steal it.

What’s new?

New checklist launched to help practitioners manage complaints

A new Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient or client, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient, client, and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern escalating to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Ahpra and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project with the Commission, with work also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra’s Resources page.

Regulators come together as one million Australians turn to medicinal cannabis treatments

Maintaining a balance between access to medicinal cannabis and its safety is a priority for health regulators across Australia amid a growing number of prescriptions and the emergence of telehealth, online prescribing and direct-to-consumer health services. Australia’s medicine regulation system is complex, with different agencies responsible for overseeing the medicines themselves, the health professionals who prescribe and provide them, and the premises where they are stored and dispensed.

In February, Ahpra and several of the National Boards convened a forum in Melbourne that brought together health regulators to share information and regulatory intelligence, discuss any current risks to the public, and determine how all regulators can best work together.

The use of unregistered medicinal cannabis products has spiralled in recent years, from around 18,000 Australians in 2019 to more than one million in January 2024. The number of prescribers accessing the Authorised Prescriber and the Special Access Scheme has also risen sharply to more than 5,700 medical and nurse practitioners prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis products that have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for safety, quality, or efficacy.

The forum attendees agreed to continue discussions with the aim to monitor issues and identify any gaps in the regulatory and wider health response to this rapidly growing industry. In particular:

  • improving data and information sharing among Australia’s regulatory agencies
  • gaining a better understanding of the drivers of the recent rapid rise in access to these products
  • enhancing communication to prescribers, including clinical guidance, on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis products
  • examining ways of better educating consumers about medicinal cannabis medications, and
  • encouraging more research to drive the production of clinical guidelines for medicinal cannabis.

Read more in the communiqué on Ahpra’s website.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent

The Ahpra Accreditation Committee has published its Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent. The statement of intent aims to embed interprofessional collaborative practice across the continuum of healthcare settings.

The statement is a fundamental step towards achieving effective team-based and coordinated care across Australia. It is a commitment to improving the outcomes for patients and consumers by reducing the risk of fragmented and uncoordinated care.

Interprofessional collaborative practice is healthcare practice where multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together and with patients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination.

The statement represents a joint commitment from 53 stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action.

Read more in the news item.

Ahpra partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism. The health practitioner regulator’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines on cultural safety for registered practitioners.

The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing. By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and continuing professional development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions in the National Scheme, we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated, as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour.

Want more information?

  • Visit www.podiatryboard.gov.au for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs. Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
  • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Enquiries link on every web page under Contact us.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9125 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • To update your contact details for important registration renewal emails and other Board updates, go to the Ahpra website: Update contact details.
  • Address mail correspondence to A/Prof. Cylie Williams, Chair, Podiatry Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 23/04/2024