May 2021

Issue 5 - May 2021


From the Chair

Photo of Stephen Gough. Chair, Paramedicine Board of AustraliaMost paramedics have completed their second renewal of their registration and our second wave of graduate registrations is complete. The profession continues to go from strength to strength with over 21,000 paramedics now registered in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

I am very pleased to advise you that all the current Paramedicine Board members have been reappointed by the Ministerial Council for a further three-year term. This stability in Board membership is important in successfully completing the profession’s transition into the National Scheme, particularly in respect to the grandparenting process which ends later this year.

If you have colleagues who are yet to apply for registration, please let them know that their window of opportunity to do so under the grandparenting provisions closes on 1 December 2021. They should apply now if they are intending to register.

Thank you for your continuing contribution to professional practice and ensuring public safety remains the key goal in providing health services to the Australian community.

Professor Stephen Gough ASM
Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia

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Board news

Practitioners’ efforts during COVID-19 recognised

The Paramedicine Board wishes to acknowledge the role the paramedicine profession is continuing to play to support the Australian community during the COVID-19 pandemic. You have been right at the frontline along with medical and nursing professionals and your work is invaluable. We all know the challenges that can be associated with paramedicine practice, which at times can take their toll. It is important that you look after yourself and your colleagues during these tough times.

If you need help you should contact your employer’s support program, third-party organisations such as Beyond Blue, or a registered health professional to get the help and support you need.

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Supervised practice with authorised bodies

Usually, when a paramedic is required to do a period of supervised practice to regain their recency of practice, they first need to identify and work with one or more supervisors to develop a detailed supervised practice plan for Board approval. This can be a lengthy and complicated process for some paramedics.

We’re streamlining and simplifying this process while still ensuring that the public are adequately protected. When the Board is satisfied that the clinical governance arrangements and supervised practice protocols of an organisation are likely to meet the requirements for this form of supervised practice, the Board has decided to pre-approve that organisation as an ‘authorised body’ for this purpose.

This means that if a paramedic wishes to do their supervised practice with an organisation that is an authorised body, they will not be required to submit a detailed supervised practice plan or list of supervisors for approval by the Board.

The the authorised body need only complete a simple form indicating that they agree to provide the required number of hours of supervised practice. Once this is accepted by Ahpra, that paramedic can start their supervised practice.

Current authorised bodies are:

  • New South Wales Ambulance Service
  • Ambulance Victoria
  • Queensland Ambulance Service
  • St John Ambulance Service WA
  • ACT Ambulance Service
  • State Medical Assistance
  • Paramedical Services
  • Ambulance Tasmania
  • LifeAid
  • EMS Event Medical.

Organisations wishing to become an authorised body should contact the Paramedicine Board’s Executive Officer: paul.fisher@ahpra.gov.au.

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Professional capabilities take effect on 1 June 

The Professional capabilities for registered paramedics come into effect on 1 June 2021. They identify the knowledge, skills and professional attributes needed to safely and competently practise as a paramedic in Australia.

The professional capabilities identify the knowledge, skills and professional attributes needed to safely and competently practise as a paramedic in Australia. They describe the threshold level of professional capability required for both initial and continuing registration.

The Chair of the Board presented on these capabilities during a webinar held for paramedic education providers last month. If you were unable to attend, a recording of the webinar is now available on the Accreditation News and updates page.

The professional capabilities are published on the Professional capabilities page and there are also supporting FAQs.

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Public consultation open: have your say on your shared Code of conduct

The Paramedicine Board along with 11 other National Boards and Ahpra are consulting on a revised shared Code of conduct (the code) and are inviting practitioners, patients and community members, employers, education providers and other stakeholders to have their say.

The code is important for both practitioners and the public as it helps guide practitioners in their conduct and the public’s understanding of what they can expect from their health practitioner. For example, the code states that health practitioners must always act in a culturally safe and respectful way, maintain everyone’s right to privacy, provide safe and evidence-based care and promote good health and equal access to health services.

The code is vital in protecting patients and applies to over 184,000 registered practitioners in 12 professions.

Why is the code being updated?

The code is being updated to make sure it continues to reflect the standard of conduct and behaviour expected of registered health practitioners by the National Boards. The updated code aims to be a relevant and useful resource for practitioners, while being more accessible to the public.

Making a submission

We encourage you to make a submission. Please read the consultation paper and supporting documents which can be accessed on the Board's Consultation page.

For more information please read the news item.

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Grandparenting is ending: unregistered paramedics should apply now

Any paramedics who have not yet applied for registration are encouraged to do so before the end of the grandparenting period on 1 December 2021. After this date the grandparenting pathways will not be available and paramedics will need to meet the usual qualification pathways provided for in the National Law (the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory).

Please let your friends and colleagues who have not yet applied for registration know about this and encourage them to apply now.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccination

The National Boards and Ahpra have published a joint statement to help registered health practitioners and students understand what’s expected of them in giving, receiving and advising on and sharing information about COVID-19 vaccination.

Key points

Registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, and we commend them for this sustained public health response. As the national vaccination program gets underway, registered health practitioners and students remain critical to this success by:

  • being vaccinated against COVID-19 unless medically contraindicated
  • being appropriately qualified and trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines if authorised, and
  • providing accurate information and advice about COVID-19 vaccination including in social media and advertising.

The statement should be read in conjunction with the standards, codes, guidelines, position statements and other guidance. The Code of conduct explains the public health obligations of registered health practitioners, including participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and meeting obligations on disease prevention.  

There is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional health practice, and any promotion of anti-vaccination claims, including on social media and in advertising, may result in regulatory action. See the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service for further advice.

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Registration

Workforce update: latest registration data

The Paramedicine Board’s latest quarterly data report covers 1 January to 31 March 2021. It shows there are 21,242 registered paramedics, 339 of whom have non-practising registration.

Table 1. Registration type by principal place of practice

Registration types

ACT

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

WA

No PPP

Total

General

322

5,402

189

5,410

1,378

589

5,973

1,343

297

20,903

Non-practising

8

72

3

84

18

9

104

25

16

339

Total

330

5,474

192

5,494

1,396

598

6,077

1,368

313

21,242

 

For more information on registration, including data breakdowns by age and gender, visit our Statistics page.

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Registration renewal wrap-up: CPD, recency of practice, impairment declarations

Another successful renewal of registration period has passed, marking 10 years of annual renewal under the National Scheme. Online renewal is the easiest way to renew and since 2011 the number of practitioners who renew online has risen from 82 per cent to 97 per cent.

Thanks to everyone who renewed their application on time, and especially to those of you who got in early. Responding to the early email reminders to renew ensures plenty of time for your application to be assessed and for you to be contacted if follow up is needed.

CPD and ROP requirements during COVID-19

The Paramedicine Board understands that some practitioners had trouble meeting the continuing professional development (CPD) and recency of practice (ROP) requirements in 2020 because of the national COVID-19 emergency.

If you declared in your 2020 renewal that you didn’t meet the CPD and/or ROP requirements because of COVID-19, there is no further action you need to take.

However, as the COVID-19 emergency has now eased, the Board expects all practitioners to take the necessary action to meet the requirements of both standards ahead of renewing their registration in 2021. The Board will publish further advice if the current situation regarding COVID-19 changes. We encourage you to plan and do CPD that is relevant to your scope of practice and your current work environment.

Impairment – when to declare

When renewing their registration, some practitioners are making declarations about impairments that we don’t need to know about. It’s only impairments that may detrimentally affect your ability to practise that you must declare.

Impairment means any physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence), that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect your ability to safely practise the profession.

You don’t need to include such things as wearing glasses or temporary injuries like a sprained wrist or ankle. If you’re unsure about whether your impairment should be declared, do let us know when you renew.

If you do have an impairment that either affects or you think is likely to affect your ability to practise, you must tell us about it and about what you’re doing to manage it. You should provide documents outlining your current diagnosis and/or treatment plan and a statement from your treating health practitioner regarding your current fitness to practise.

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National Scheme news

Consultation on revised regulatory principles: have your say

The National Boards and Ahpra are seeking feedback on revised regulatory principles for the National Scheme.

The regulatory principles encourage a responsive, risk-based approach to regulation across all professions within the National Scheme. They also acknowledge the importance of community confidence and working with the professions to achieve good outcomes.

The draft revised regulatory principles reflect two recent policy directions issued by the COAG Health Council which provide a clear mandate to the National Boards and Ahpra to prioritise public protection in the work of the National Scheme.

We want the public to have trust and confidence in regulated health practitioners and to know that their safety is at the heart of everything we do in the National Scheme. The revised principles reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective.

The consultation is open until 18 May 2021. Feedback is invited from practitioners, stakeholders and the community.

Find out more about how to make a submission on the Consultations page on the Ahpra website.

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Podcast: Chief Health Officers Brett Sutton and Jeanette Young in the spotlight

In a recent episode of Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Adjunct Professor Brett Sutton, and Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, speak openly about their experience of leading during a pandemic, how they coped, and the impact on them and their families.

Brett Sutton speaks about the heavy burden of decision-making with such far-reaching consequences and the importance of his own family and other support mechanisms he relied on to handle the huge pressures. Jeannette Young discusses the fact that there was no rule book, the importance of her husband’s early retirement to support her and how she managed death threats.

Despite the intensity and seriousness of their work, both could see the lighter side of their unexpected celebrity status, a consequence of the unavoidable media spotlight.

Ahpra releases a new Taking care episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. Download and listen today. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

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Ahpra rolls out cultural safety training for staff and boards

A key objective of the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 is to embed cultural safety in the National Scheme and the health system. A new, online and face-to-face education and training program for all Ahpra staff, board and committee members has begun state by state, starting in our Tasmanian office in Hobart.

The Moong-moong-gak Cultural Safety Training program is designed to provide members of the National Scheme with the knowledge, skills and abilities to develop and apply culturally safe work practices as these relate to their role as part of the National Scheme.

The program gives participants an opportunity to hear and learn from the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and to reflect on their own behaviours, and their conscious and unconscious beliefs. Upon completion of the program, participants will be better prepared to engage in culturally safe practices, communication and behaviour, in order to contribute to more effective service delivery and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The cultural safety training will contribute to Ahpra employees’, Board members’ and practitioners’ ongoing critical reflection on their knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in providing safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.

We want all our people to embrace the training with an open mind and the ability to learn and unlearn!

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Ahpra’s new framework for dealing with vexatious notifications

What is known about vexatious complaints?

In 2017 Ahpra commissioned independent research that took the first international look at vexatious (unfounded) complaints. The report, Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints, found that vexatious complaints account for less than one per cent of notifications received, and that there is greater risk of people not reporting concerns than of people making truly vexatious complaints.

The report also noted that being on the receiving end of any notification is a distressing experience for any health practitioner. Regulators need to have good processes for dealing with unfounded complaints quickly and fairly.

Ahpra’s vexatious complaints framework

Following recommendations made in the report, Ahpra developed A framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications for staff and regulatory decision-makers. This will help us identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications. The framework outlines:

  • the principles and features, significant impacts and potential indicators of vexatious notifications
  • how to identify vexatious notifications, and
  • what to do where there is a concern that a notification is vexatious.

We understand that practitioners who feel that they may be the subject of a vexatious notification are more likely to experience stress and anxiety. Our staff are equipped to identify and support these practitioners and to implement management strategies set out in our framework when a concern about vexatiousness is raised with us.

Need more help or information?

Our staff are here to help you before, during or after the notifications process. We encourage you to visit our Practitioner support services page where you can find the contact details for additional support services. You can also listen to Episode 1: Vexatious notifications, Taking care, Ahpra’s podcast and visit our Concerns about practitioners page for more information about notifications and links to the report and framework.

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Want more information?

  • Visit the Board’s website for fact sheets and FAQs that help answer common questions about paramedic registration, and professional standards, codes and guidelines.
  • For employers of paramedics, we have specific information to help 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 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Professor Stephen Gough ASM, Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 14/05/2021