Unfortunately, despite all best endeavours, there may be a time in your career when a patient grievance is raised against your Practice for the care you’ve provided.
An integral role of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is to protect the public and ensure continued high-quality healthcare. AHPRA manages and deals with complaints against registered health professionals – these complaints are called “notifications”.
When a notification been made, AHPRA works in coordination with Australia’s National Practitioner Boards to investigate and resolve each particular case. There are 15 of these boards covering a vast range of health services and specialties.
How is a notification made against me?
Any person can make a notification to AHPRA about a registered health professional. It is then the responsibility of AHPRA, in conjunction with the National Boards, to investigate that practitioners who are to registered to practice have the skills and qualifications to provide safe care.
There are certain situations where health practitioners, employers or education providers are required by law to make notifications to AHPRA about a registered health profession. This includes situations where the practitioner is:
- Practising while intoxicated;
- Engaging in sexual misconduct in connection with their practice;
- Practicing while impaired; or
- Practicing in a way that is a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
How is the notification investigated and does this impact my ability to practice?
A notification submission, in and of itself, does not affect your ability to continue to practise. The only time this would be the case is if there is an immediate and severe threat to public safety.
When a notification is lodged, the relevant National Board assesses the complaint and commences an investigation. It is a tedious process and can take up to 12 months. The person that lodged the notification will receive, upon completion, a response detailing the primary outcome of the investigation.
As you can imagine, every notification submitted to AHPRA is different, so even though, they have a consistent process for managing notifications, there is no standard response.
What should I do if a notification is made against me?
We strongly recommend seeking legal advice if you are a health professional and a notification has been made to AHPRA against your practice. There may be serious professional and legal implications for you, and an experienced lawyer can assist. And as with any investigative process, it will work in your best interest to front foot the situation and ensure you’re well prepared by seeking advice.
Notifications made to AHPRA against a health professional’s practice are taken very seriously. A response by the Practitioner is required and there may be obligations to be met under your professional indemnity insurance. Even without professional indemnity insurance, a response is still needed to be made.
How do AHPRA and the National Boards work together?
Each of the National Boards regulates their health professions, and all 15 are governed by the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. The National Boards and AHPRA, work together, to meet the objectives of the scheme.
For detailed list of National Boards and how they work together refer to the AHPRA website
General information on what to do when a notification has been made against a Practitioner can be found here.
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