Third statement from National Boards and Ahpra

02 Apr 2020

As we continue to face the biggest public health challenge of our lives, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will test our health system and each of us like nothing we have seen before

While many are caring for sick and frightened patients, some of us will face our own illness and need to care for our families and loved ones. Some will be called on to work in unfamiliar situations where our knowledge and experience are needed most.

Professional judgement will be critical to guide us when resources are limited and demand is intense.

The Paramedicine Board and Ahpra understand that the current national emergency presents extreme challenges and we sincerely thank you for your commitment and the care you provide. We know our regulatory approach must be modified to accommodate these exceptional circumstances.

The Paramedicine Board has already started to make a series of pragmatic decisions temporarily modifying some of our regulatory requirements, while maintaining patient safety.

These changes are set out below. We have also published responses to questions we’ve been asked some of which may apply to you.

Our profession has well established behaviours and values which provide a framework for ethical decision-making in a wide range of situations. You should continue to apply such guidance as far as is practical, recognising these are unique and challenging circumstances that we are practising in at present.

We must care for our patients, ourselves and each other. In providing care the Paramedicine Board does not expect you to place yourself in harm’s way. Ensuring effective use of personal protective equipment and following relevant infection control requirements and public health advice is key to ensuring your safety when practising.

The Paramedicine Board is aware some health services will be reduced or stopped, including where care cannot be provided in ways that ensure both the practitioner’s and the patient’s safety.

If you know or suspect you are infected, you should follow current public health advice including self-isolating. If you have pre-existing health conditions that increase your risk of infection, you should manage this actively, such as by discussing it with your colleagues, employer or place of work.

The Paramedicine Board has agreed to the following measures to assist paramedics during this demanding period. Please also note that we are closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 situation and may make further changes as needed.

Continuing professional development

The COVID-19 emergency is impacting on registered health practitioners’ CPD in various ways, including where CPD events or leave are cancelled. National Boards encourage practitioners to continue CPD relevant to their practice where possible. However, we do not want CPD requirements to take you away from clinical care or cause additional concerns to those already under extra pressure due to COVID-19. Accordingly, if you can't meet the CPD standard because of the COVID-19 emergency, then we won't take any action for the registration period during which the COVID-19 emergency is in force, without the need to apply for exemption.

However, if the COVID-19 emergency resolves more quickly than expected, we may issue updated guidance about what CPD National Boards would expect to be completed within the current registration period.

Recency of Practice and changing scope

The Paramedicine Board highlights the ethical and profession obligation all paramedics have to ensure that they are safe and competent in any practice they undertake in addition to any requirements set out in the Paramedicine Board’s Recency of Practice Registration Standard.

Where the Paramedicine Board needs to decide on the ways a practitioner can safely return to practice, particularly if they are moving from a non-clinical role to a clinical role, the

Paramedicine Board has agreed to consider applying more flexible conditions than usual provided it is safe and appropriate to do so in that particular case.

Paramedics who are yet to apply for registration

There are a number of graduates and experienced practitioners who are eligible for registration but have not yet chosen to apply for registration as a paramedic. The Paramedicine Board encourages such persons to strongly consider applying for registration to support any surge required in the paramedic workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications can be made via the Paramedicine Board’s website.COVID-19 health workforce.

If you are already registered and have capacity to help, for example you are working part-time, taking a break or in between roles, you are also encouraged to see if you can assist. Visit the Ahpra website which has links to work opportunities in each state and territory.

Further work

Alternative approaches to demonstrating English language proficiency

The Paramedicine Board and Ahpra are aware that practitioners may have difficulty demonstrating English language proficiency with the current disruption of English language testing.

We are developing alternative approaches to demonstrating English language proficiency that we will publish.

Return to practice for recently retired practitioners

National Boards are working with Ahpra to streamline the return to work process for practitioners who have previously held general registration and left the Register of practitioners or who have moved to non-practising registration within the last three years. This work is being undertaken in support of the work of Health departments to focus on practitioners who are part of the so called ‘surge workforce’ needed to respond directly to the immediate demands of the pandemic and will be expanded in line with their requirements over time.

The Paramedicine Board and Ahpra will provide regular updates on our website and via email as the situation develops and we respond to emerging needs.

Professor Stephen Gough ASM
Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia

 
 
Page reviewed 2/04/2020