Issue 22 – December 2019
Welcome to the last newsletter for 2019. In October this year, to coincide with Foot Health Week the Board acknowledged the important contribution that podiatrists and podiatric surgeons make to the optimal foot health of the Australian community.
You can view the video with my message from the Board on our website.
It was a great opportunity to highlight that meeting the Board’s requirements for registration as a podiatrist or podiatric surgeon includes completing annual continuing professional development (CPD), maintaining professional indemnity insurance arrangements and complying with registration standards, codes and guidelines, which all support the safe delivery of podiatry services
As we head into the new year, it’s timely to remind you about the importance of planning your CPD for the coming year. This involves reflecting on your practice over the past year and identifying your learning goals for 2020. Have a look at the CPD learning plan template that we’ve published on our website to help you record your planning and reflections on CPD.
Chair, Podiatry Board of Australia
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This month we met with community member from Queensland Shellee Smith to find out what drives her and what brought her to health practitioner regulation.
I graduated from the University of Queensland and the Royal Military College, Duntroon and then served in the Australian Defence Force for six years as an Army Intelligence Officer. During that time, I gained my Master of International Relations and a Diploma in Applied Indonesian Language. In another role, I assisted with briefings on matters of security and intelligence during the Sydney Olympic Games. Another highlight was the opportunity to participate in an internship at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
After admission as a solicitor, I worked in various roles providing legal advice and representation in matters of criminal, civil and family law. I was also involved in various community initiatives such as collaborating to develop and deliver legal education seminars for local Indigenous groups, schools and other community organisations in Sydney and later, on the Gold Coast.
Since 2013, I have worked as a sessional academic at Griffith University in the Law School and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Recently I co-convened and lectured in counter-terrorism law on the Gold Coast.
I am currently a legal member of the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal. The tribunal considers matters such as forensic orders, fitness for trial and treatment authorities in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld).
I have been a member of the Board for around six months now. As with any new role, there is much to learn, and it has been interesting and challenging to understand more of regulatory governance. I am impressed by the expertise, professionalism and kind guidance I have received from other Board members, the Executive Officer and AHPRA staff. My experience of the Board, even in these early days, has emphasised that the Board places value on making fair-minded decisions in order to protect the public, not punish practitioners.
My interest in the Board was first from a legal perspective and then a community one. In my current role, we aim to uphold procedural fairness and make fair decisions. My research indicated that AHPRA’s regulatory principles supported effective decision-making and I wanted to be part of that. From the perspective of having lived and worked overseas (and as a parent) I value the quality healthcare we receive in Australia and I would like to see it continue. While it’s not perfect, Australia has a good health system – this has happened not by accident but because of a logical framework of statutory governance. Being part of that decision-making process is an important role I can play as a community member.
The Board has important duties at law to consider and uphold when promoting public safety and regulating podiatrists. The Board is accountable for oversight of the standards required of podiatrists to ensure that they practise their profession in a manner that upholds patient safety. This also gives podiatrists clarity around what is expected. The Board is mindful that we make decisions about fellow human beings; so, we must be fair and humane.
We have to carefully balance Board duties under the National Law1 in light of the impact these decisions have on fellow human beings. I have seen the Board go to great lengths to fairly balance relevant considerations when making decisions about the regulation of podiatrists.
Live with integrity and respect for others.
I know first-hand that podiatrists have an important role to play in allied healthcare. In my active family of runners and netball players, podiatry care plays an important role in our overall wellbeing.
1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
One of the requirements under Pathway B of the Board’s registration standard for endorsement for scheduled medicines is the completion of a period of supervised practice, during which you will progressively develop a portfolio of evidence.
The purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate to the Board that you have the required prescribing competencies to have your registration endorsed for scheduled medicines and that you have met the Board’s requirements for supervised practice. It must include clinical studies and a reflective journal and is submitted with your application for endorsement for assessment.
As part of our ongoing commitment to support practitioners to understand the requirements for endorsement, the Board has published an example of a portfolio of evidence on the Endorsement for scheduled medicines page of our website.
The sample portfolio, which includes an example of an evidence matrix and log of activities as well as two clinical studies and some reflective pieces, is intended to provide guidance only and is not a representation of a completed portfolio.
On our website you’ll find two animated videos to help you understand the application process for an endorsement for scheduled medicines under Pathway B and the role of a mentor. The registration standard, associated guidelines, FAQ and relevant templates are also available.
It’s important to read the registration standard and guidelines carefully as well as the FAQ to make sure you understand the requirements.
Together with other National Boards and AHPRA, the Board is conducting a public consultation on a proposed supervised practice framework. The consultation opened on 11 September 2019 and will close on 17 December 2019.
The consultation paper is available on the Current consultations page of our website. To make it easier to participate, you can use the online survey option to send us your feedback.
The Podiatry Board of Australia has recently been approved as the skilled migration assessing authority for podiatrists – [ANZSCO 252611 (Podiatrist)] – under the Australian Government’s Skilled Migration Program.
The Board has published a dedicated Assessment for migration page on its website which provides information about the evidence that the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs will accept as evidence of a suitable skills assessment for immigration purposes.
The Board publishes quarterly data profiling Australia’s podiatry workforce. The data report for the July to September 2019 quarter is published under Statistics on our website.
As at 30 September 2019, there were 5,374 registered podiatrists and podiatric surgeons in total. Of these, 5,217 held general registration as a podiatrist; 34 held both general registration and specialist registration as a podiatric surgeon; and 123 held non-practising registration.
There were 114 practitioners with their registration endorsed for scheduled medicines.
A profession-specific statistical summary that covers the work of the Board over the 12 months to 30 June 2019 is now available online. The summary draws on data from the 2018/19 annual report of AHPRA and the National Boards and provides a snapshot of the profession as at 30 June 2019.
It includes the number of registered podiatrists and a breakdown by gender and age; the number of complaints or concerns received and closed during the year and the types and sources of those complaints; the number of practitioners monitored; and the number of any tribunals, panels or appeals.
It also includes outcomes of practitioner audits; and the number and type of criminal offence complaints made. Profession-specific data tables are also available for downloading.
To access the summary and data tables visit the Board’s 2018/19 summary.
Information about the 2018/19 annual report of AHPRA and the National Boards can be found in the National Scheme news section below.
If you meant to renew but still haven’t, you can renew in December, but a late payment fee applies in addition to the annual renewal fee. The quickest way to renew is online.
If you do not apply to renew your registration by 31 December 2019 your registration will lapse. You will be removed from the Register of Podiatrists and won’t be able to practise your profession in Australia until a new application for registration is approved. This could take time.
To support graduates who are applying for registration as a podiatrist for the first time, AHPRA has developed comprehensive information material for graduates, including tips for avoiding common causes of delay. Graduates can also check the status of their application online. The new information for graduates can be found on the Graduate applications page on the AHPRA website.
The Board also has a range of resources help graduates understand what it means to be a registered podiatrist in Australia. These include information about when it is necessary to be registered as a podiatrist and an information video for graduating students.
You can find these and more on our General registration page.
AHPRA has released an important podcast that takes an in-depth look at vexatious notifications.
The podcast Vexatious notifications is the first in a series that is currently in development to provide greater insight into the work of health practitioner regulation and information about key health care concerns. It takes a deeper dive into a subject of concern for many health practitioners who fear that wrong motives could provoke a patient or colleague to report them to the regulator inappropriately.
You can find more information about the podcast on the AHPRA website.
The 2018/19 report on the National Scheme includes data and descriptions of what National Boards and AHPRA do and how we work in partnership. While its most attentive readership is Health Ministers and their staff, the report is also a useful source of information for a wide audience: board members, other regulators, registrants, students, overseas-trained health professionals, employers, education providers, consumer groups, patients and the broader community.
One in every 17 working Australians is a registrant in one of the regulated health professions in the scheme. At over 744,000 registrants, this is a huge and growing workforce. When paramedics joined the scheme last year, becoming nationally regulated and registered for the first time, the number of professions regulated increased to 16, and the number of National Boards to 16 (the professions of nursing and midwifery are both regulated by one board).
To ensure this large workforce is trained, qualified and competent, there are now over 1,000 approved programs of study.
The report also shows AHPRA directly received 9,338 concerns (notifications) about registered health practitioners and closed 8,979 during 2018/19. More notifications were received and more closed than ever before. 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 healthcare concerns.
Other insights from the year include:
To view and download the 2018/19 annual report, visit the AHPRA website.
The National Law sets out the accreditation functions in the National Scheme, which include developing accreditation standards, accrediting programs of study against approved accreditation standards and assessing overseas-qualified practitioners.
Each National Board decides whether the accreditation functions for the profession it regulates will be carried out by an external accreditation body or a committee established by the National Board.
If the National Board decides on an external accreditation body, AHPRA enters a contract with them that sets out the accreditation functions to be delivered and the associated reporting and funding arrangements. If the National Board decides on a committee, these matters are specified in terms of reference.
AHPRA and the National Boards, with the support of the accreditation authorities, have published the current accreditation council agreements and the terms of reference for each accreditation committee.
The current agreements and terms of reference provide a contemporary framework for addressing important accreditation issues such as cultural safety, safety and quality, reducing regulatory burden, multi-profession collaboration to meet evolving health care needs, and strengthened accountability and transparency. The agreements also include principles for funding and fee setting and new key performance indicators to track progress on priority issues.
For more information, including a list of the current accreditation authorities, please visit the Accreditation authorities page on the AHPRA website.
AHPRA and the National Boards have published new resources to support practitioners to understand changes to the National Law about mandatory notifications requirements that are due to take effect in early 2020.
The resources aim to encourage practitioners to seek the health care they need by removing fears that they’ll be subject of an unnecessary mandatory notification and provide greater clarity to treating practitioners on when they need to make a mandatory notification.
The new resources are available on a hub on the AHPRA website and include a resource kit with two videos, social media posts and graphics that can be shared. Additional resources will be added to the hub in advance of the changes coming into effect in early 2020, including the revised Guidelines on mandatory notifications.
New resources to help podiatrists, podiatric surgeons and other advertisers understand if claims made in advertising are supported by accepted evidence is now available.
You can access the new information via a link on the the Advertising resources page on the Board’s website.
The approach taken to assessing evidence to support claims is consistent with the wider scientific and academic community. However, there is an important difference between acceptable evidence for claims made in advertising and the evidence used for clinical decisions about patient care.
When treating patients, practitioners must obtain informed consent for the care they provide and are expected to discuss the evidence for different treatment options. In advertising, the claims are generic, and practitioners are not available to clarify whether a treatment is appropriate for an individual patient.
There are many aspects to take into consideration when reviewing whether there is acceptable evidence to support a claim made in advertising a regulated health service. Factors to consider include:
Study design is also an important aspect to consider when assessing if claims are supported by acceptable evidence. The following types of studies will generally not be considered acceptable evidence for advertising claims:
The evidence base for clinical practice is constantly developing so it is important to make sure that the evidence you rely on is current.
AHPRA and the 15 National Boards are in the tenth year of implementing the National Scheme.
The National Scheme started in July 2010, initially regulating 10 health professions. Since 2012, five more health professions have joined the scheme, the latest being paramedics in December 2018. (Nursing and midwifery were officially recognised as separate professions under amendments to the National Law last year.) We now regulate over 744,000 practitioners across 16 health professions
This growth in the number of regulated health professions was pivotal to refreshing the AHPRA logo, which also lists the National Boards and is used to represent the National Scheme.
The bold but simple design of the new AHPRA logo aims to serve us well into the future. It still has a key element of the old logo, namely the map of Australia, but is better suited to digital platforms (websites, social media) and for use across a variety of other materials.
Most importantly, it will not need updating as the old logo would if Health Ministers decide public safety would benefit from other health professions becoming regulated.
The National Board logos reflect the ongoing partnership between the National Boards and AHPRA in our shared role of protecting the public.
Both logo designs also include ‘AHPRA’, now with just an initial capital: ‘AHPRA’. This helps people to pronounce our name correctly and distinguishes us from other regulators with similar acronyms.
The new logos will be rolled out over coming months.
As we say goodbye to the old logos and welcome the new, thanks for your patience while we complete this transition.
AHPRA and National Boards have released results from a social research project aimed at helping us understand perceptions about us and our work.
The aim of the social research project was for AHPRA and National Boards to better understand what the community, regulated health professions and our stakeholders think and feel about us, particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust.
AHPRA and National Boards are using insights gained from the project to better understand how registered health practitioners view what we do and to inform how we can improve our engagement with both the professions and the community.
AHPRA has released a report of results from the project which included a short, anonymous survey of a random sample of registered practitioners from across 15 of the 16 regulated health professions. (Because the practitioner survey was conducted before paramedics joined the National Scheme the report does not include survey results for this profession.)
The anonymous survey of practitioners was done simultaneously with an anonymous survey sent to a random sample of members of the public across communities in Australia. Both surveys were managed by an independent consultant. We invite you to take a look at the results. The National Boards have also published profession-specific reports based on the results of the online survey of registered health practitioners.
The reports, including a report on the results of the online survey of registered podiatrists can be found on the Podiatry Board of Australia’s website.
AHPRA and National Boards have published a new guide to help registered health practitioners understand and meet their obligations when using social media.
The guide reminds practitioners that when interacting online, they should maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of their actions, just as when they interact in person.
The guide does not stop practitioners from engaging online or via social media; instead, it encourages practitioners to act ethically and professionally in any setting.
To help practitioners meet their obligations, the guide also outlines some common pitfalls practitioners may encounter when using social media.
Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to behave ethically and to maintain professional standards, as in all professional circumstances.
In using social media, health practitioners should be aware of their obligations under the National Law, their Board’s Code of conduct, the advertising guidelines and other relevant legislation, such as privacy legislation.
This guide replaces the social media policy on Boards’ codes, guidelines and policies pages and is available in the Advertising resources section of AHPRA’s website. The guide will be updated as needed.
Older Australians will be better protected as the result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed recently by AHPRA and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the commission).
The MOU underpins the positive and collaborative working relationship that already exists between AHPRA and the commission. It will ensure that information can be appropriately shared between the two agencies where there may be concerns in aged care.
It will support the commission raising concerns about the health, performance or conduct of registered health practitioners working in aged care. In a reciprocal arrangement, AHPRA will disclose information to the commission if it has concerns about the care and safety of someone receiving Commonwealth-funded aged care services.
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson PSM said the commission was pleased to work with AHPRA to support the timely sharing of information and two-way communication to help both parties better fulfil their statutory mandates.
AHPRA will also work with the commission to ensure that all aged care employers use our online national register to check that health practitioners working in aged care are appropriately registered and meet required registration standards and codes of conduct.