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April 2019

Issue 1

From the Chair

Photo of Stephen Gough. Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia

Welcome to the first official newsletter from the Paramedicine Board of Australia (the Board). We will be emailing our e-newsletter several times a year to all registered paramedics, and you can also view the newsletter on the Board’s website. It’s important to keep you updated on issues and events related to paramedic regulation.

A significant amount of work was required to achieve the registration of paramedics. I acknowledge with gratitude the collective work of the many who have been involved in achieving this milestone. These include the Board, AHPRA staff, major jurisdictional ambulance services, unions, professional representative bodies, private ambulance providers, universities, respective state and territory Departments of Health, and those paramedics who lodged early applications.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey and contributed to the establishment of paramedicine as the 15th National Board in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

Associate Professor Stephen Gough ASM
Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia

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Board news

Did you apply for registration before 1 December but aren't yet registered?

We are continuing to work through the large number of applications for registration we have received, and it will take some time. Due to the provisions of section 85 in the National Law1, in some cases AHPRA may need to seek approval to extend the time needed to process an application. This request would be sent via a specific email to the individual practitioner concerned. Practitioners who receive such an email are asked to respond and confirm their agreement to the extension of time as soon as possible, because unfortunately without approval to extend the time allowed to process the application, the National Law requires that the application is taken to be refused.

Should you be the recipient of an extension request email, or have already received one, please ensure that you provide the email along with your acceptance response to your employer as evidence of your application if required.

1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

‘Paramedic’ is now a protected title

From 1 December 2018, when paramedicine became a nationally regulated profession under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (the National Law), the title ‘paramedic’ became protected by law. This means that from 1 December 2018, only people who are registered with the Board, or who have applied for registration before 1 December 2018 and their application is yet to be finalised, will be able to lawfully call themselves a ‘paramedic’.

Using the title ‘paramedic’ and creating a belief that you are registered when you are not is a criminal offence under the National Law and strong penalties apply. Recent changes to the National Law provide for fines of up to $60,000 for an individual and $120,000 for a corporate entity.

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Code of conduct for paramedics

On 15 June 2018, the Board approved an interim set of codes, guidelines and policies based on a multi-professional approach to health practitioner regulation revised in 2014, which will provide for the effective regulation of the profession under the National Law. These are:

  • Code of conduct
  • Guidelines for advertising regulated health services
  • Guidelines for mandatory notifications
  • Social media policy.

The interim Code of conduct for paramedics (the code) aims to help you to provide effective regulated health services within an ethical framework. As registered health practitioners, you have a duty to make the care of patients or clients your first concern and to practise safely and effectively. Maintaining a high level of professional competence and conduct is essential for good care. The code contains important standards of behaviour expected of paramedics.

Codes and guidelines approved by the National Board may be used as evidence of what constitutes appropriate professional conduct or practice for paramedicine in proceedings against a health practitioner under the National Law or a law of a co-regulatory jurisdiction.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with these documents, available under Codes, guidelines and policies on our website.

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Accreditation arrangements for paramedic education and training

Under the provisions of s43 of the National Law, the Board is required to determine whether the accreditation arrangements for the education and training of paramedics in Australia is to be carried out by an external body or a committee established by the Board.

In 2018, the Board agreed to seek expressions of interest (EOI) from external entities to carry out the accreditation functions for the paramedicine profession and to consider responses to the EOI when making its decision to either establish a committee or use an external body for this function. 

After considering a range of factors and the responses to the call for EOI, the Board decided the accreditation functions for the paramedicine profession will be exercised by a committee established by the Board for the next three years.

In December 2018 we sought applications from those interested in being appointed to the Paramedicine Accreditation Committee. After an extremely competitive selection process, we appointed the following people as the inaugural members of the committee:

  • Emeritus Professor Eileen Willis (Chair)
  • Dr William Lord (Co-Deputy Chair)
  • Mr Alan Morrison (Co-Deputy Chair)
  • Mr Anthony Hucker ASM
  • Mr Richard Larsen ASM
  • Mr Martin Nichols
  • Dr Helen Webb

The Board congratulates them on their appointment. 

The committee is scheduled to meet for the first time in April 2019 to begin its important work.

Read more in the news item.

Board member changes

The Board has had a recent membership change, farewelling one of its valued community members, Ms Carol Bennett. 

AHPRA is recruiting to this vacancy for approval by the Ministerial Council. Once the appointment is confirmed we will publish details on the Board’s website. Meantime, you can read about the current members on the Board members page.

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Applications: progress and grandparenting arrangements

The positive response of the profession to the implementation of regulation and the number of applications has exceeded our expectations. We have received over 18,000 applications for registration to date, with more received each day. More than 16,000 of those applications have been processed, resulting in registration being granted. It will take several months to process the remaining applications and we appreciate the continuing patience of applicants.

The ‘grandparenting’ period will continue until 30 November 2021, allowing the Board to receive applications under these provisions until that time. After that date, only applicants with either approved, accepted or substantially equivalent qualifications will be qualified for registration in the paramedicine profession in Australia.

Paramedic student registration: how it works

Paramedic students will be registered before they start their approved program of study or clinical training and will remain registered for the duration of study, or until they are no longer enrolled. Students do not need to apply for registration and there is no fee for student registration.

Under the National Law, the education provider is responsible for ensuring that all students enrolled in an approved program of study or who are doing clinical training are registered with AHPRA.

Approved education providers and programs of study are listed on the Board’s website under Approved qualifications.

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National Scheme news

National Boards and AHPRA host research summit

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme 2019 Research Summit took place on 27 February 2019 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The summit asked how research can be harnessed to strengthen regulation and improve patient safety to contribute to improved health outcomes.

Led by AHPRA and the National Boards, the all-day Research Summit hosted 17 speakers and drew more than 300 participants from national, state and territory board and committee members, AHPRA staff, co-regulatory bodies, representatives from accreditation authorities and key partners.

With the theme ‘Optimising research for regulatory effectiveness’, the Research Summit explored the National Scheme’s evolving approaches to risk assessment, lessons from research into notifications, and future opportunities to use smart data. At the heart of discussions was asking how we can use data and research to improve regulatory processes and, ultimately, contribute to safer care for patients.

Professor Zubin Austin from the University of Toronto, Canada, was a keynote speaker. His stirring address highlighted that competency assessment has emerged as a dominant issue for regulators, educators and employers worldwide. Professor Austin called for more attention to be focused on notions of teamwork, emotional intelligence, and genuine practitioner engagement as important concepts in defining and evaluating competency.

Read more in the media release about the summit.

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'Let's talk about it' videos launched

AHPRA has launched a series of new videos to support the public and registered health practitioners as they go through the notification process.

The video series, called ‘Let’s talk about it’, explains what happens when concerns are raised with the regulator, gives easy-to-follow information about the notifications process and addresses common questions, so consumers and health practitioners know what to expect when they interact with AHPRA and National Boards.

There are three videos:

The videos sit alongside other written resources available on the AHPRA website, see: www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications.

You can view the videos on the AHPRA and National Board websites or from our YouTube and Vimeo channel, and join the conversation by following AHPRA on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: use the hashtag #letstalkaboutit and tag @AHPRA.

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Legislative amendments on mandatory reporting and fake practitioners

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) (the Act) has been passed by the Queensland Parliament. The amendments include revisions to the mandatory reporting requirements for treating practitioners and an extension of sanctions for statutory offences.

The changes to the National Law intend to support registered practitioners to seek help for a health issue (including mental health issues). They will also increase the penalties (including the introduction of custodial sentences) for some offences under the National Law, including where a person holds themselves out to be a registered health practitioner when they are not.

AHPRA and National Boards will now work to implement these amendments. This will require working closely with professional bodies, employers and state and territory health departments to help spread the message that practitioners should be supported to seek help about their health issues.

The passing of the Act in Queensland marks the second set of legislative amendments to the National Law since the start of the National Scheme in 2010. When they take effect, the amendments will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where mandatory reporting requirements will not change. 

Read a news item about the amendments on the AHPRA website or the Act on the Queensland Legislation website.

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Titles in health advertising – how to get it right

A new resource to help practitioners understand their legal obligations when using titles in health advertising addresses the uncertainty some paramedics might have around this issue.

Misuse of a protected title, specialist title or endorsements is an offence under sections 113-119 of the National Law or may constitute behaviour for which health, conduct or performance action may be taken against a registered health practitioner under Part 8 of the National Law.

However, advertisers should also be aware that while use of some titles may not necessarily breach title protections under sections 113-119, they may be considered false, misleading or deceptive under the advertising provisions in the National Law (section 133).

The titles tool will help practitioners understand how titles can be used in advertising. It also outlines some of the common pitfalls that can result in titles being considered misleading under the National Law.

The titles tool is the latest in a series of resources and support materials developed by AHPRA and National Boards to help health practitioners, healthcare providers and other advertisers of regulated health services check and correct their advertising so it complies with the National Law.

The titles tool is available in the Advertising resources section of the AHPRA website.

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Want more information?

  • Visit the Board’s website for fact sheets and FAQ resources that help answer common questions about paramedic registration, and professional standards, codes and guidelines.
  • For employers of paramedics, we have specific information that will be helpful for you in the Fact sheet: Employer obligations under the National Law.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Associate Professor Stephen Gough ASM, Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 17/04/2019