Paramedicine Board of Australia - May 2024
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May 2024

Issue 12 – May 2024


From the Chair

Stephen Gough

Welcome to the first Paramedicine Board newsletter for 2024. We are now well into the year, and the Board has been busily progressing several of our strategic projects.

In this edition, we share some exciting news about Board appointments, saying hello to two new appointees and farewell to two retiring members.

We also have some updates from the recent Australian Health Ministers Meeting, including progress on advanced practice paramedicine and a continued focus on addressing boundary violations.

And as the colder seasons are well and truly upon us, a reminder to protect yourselves and others from influenza.

As always, take care and be safe.

Professor Stephen Gough ASM
Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia


Priority news

Health ministers make new appointments to National Board

Recently, health ministers communicated their decision on appointments and reappointments to National Boards, including the Paramedicine Board of Australia.

Congratulations to Dr Simon Sawyer (practitioner member Victoria) and Mr Sam Perillo (practitioner member Australian Capital Territory) who have been appointed for three-year terms.

The Board welcomes Simon and Sam as they replace retiring members, Associate Professor Ian Patrick and Mr Howard Wren. The knowledge, insight and experience that both Ian and Howard have contributed to the Board over the past seven years has been invaluable in transitioning the profession into the regulatory scheme.

Congratulations also to Ms Clare Beech, Mr Keith Driscoll ASM, Ms Angela Wright and Ms Linda Renouf who were reappointed for a three-year term.

I am also proud to have been reappointed and will continue in my role as Chair.

Read the health ministers’ communiqué for more details.

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Consultation on embedding good practice in clinical placements and simulation-based learning

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's (Ahpra) Accreditation Committee is seeking feedback on its draft guidance on embedding good practice in clinical placements, simulation-based learning and virtual care in initial education for student health practitioners. The guidance will support improvements in these important components of every health practitioner’s initial education.

The committee wants to ensure that our student health practitioners have access to high quality clinical placements, simulation-based learning and virtual care educational experiences. These activities enable students to develop the capabilities they need for contemporary practice, and to provide patient-centred care safely and competently.

The aim of the guidance is to help National Scheme entities, in particular National Boards and accreditation authorities, improve student education in these areas.

Find out more about this consultation and provide feedback on the committee’s Current consultations page. The public consultation runs till close of business (AEST) Friday, 21 June 2024.

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Board news

Progress on endorsements for advanced practice paramedics

In April at the Australian Health Ministers Meeting, ministers gathered in Brisbane and agreed to work with the Board to establish area of practice endorsements for advanced practice paramedicine. This includes critical care and community paramedicine, along with full access to independent prescribing rights outside of state ambulance services.

This decision highlights the important role paramedics have to play in the health workforce and this project will involve a considerable amount of work over the next few years.

The Board will be seeking ideas and feedback from practitioners throughout this journey and will be consulting on draft proposals at various stages of the project.

Keep an eye on the Board’s website for details of opportunities to engage.

Responding to boundary violations by health practitioners

In the spotlight at the April meeting was the health ministers’ continued focus on addressing concerning reports of sexual misconduct by health practitioners. Ministers again emphasised the importance of making patients aware of the previous serious sexual misconduct of any health practitioner.

Ministers agreed at the meeting that the Health Practitioner National Law will be amended to ensure any such proven allegation remains on a practitioner’s record permanently.

This follows the February 2023 announcement by health ministers that they would take action to ensure the management of health practitioners’ professional misconduct relating to sexual misconduct and sexual boundary violations would better meet community expectations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paramedics engagement group

The Board is seeking expressions of interest from any paramedics or students who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples to be part of an engagement group. This group will play an important role to inform and support several of the Board’s current projects and strategies. To register your interest, please email [email protected].

Flu season has arrived – be prepared

A reminder that the flu season is upon us. Influenza is highly contagious and usually peaks in the winter months.

As health professionals, it is particularly important that we give thought to the best way to protect ourselves, families and patients and others during this period according to our individual circumstances.

This can include getting vaccinated early, practising good hygiene and using appropriate PPE as needed in the provision of healthcare.


Students and graduates

Beware of identity theft – don’t post your registration certificate online

Successfully registering with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) is the last green light for new graduates starting their career in their chosen profession. It’s an exciting step and one to feel immensely proud of. The temptation might be strong to celebrate by sharing your first registration certificate with the world – but think twice before posting.

Identity theft is rife. Every day, websites pop up selling fake Ahpra certificates of registration based on real ones that graduating practitioners have posted on their social media. Never post your identity documents online. You’ve worked hard to earn your registration; don’t let somebody steal it.


Registration

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 December 2023. At that date, there were 25,238 registered paramedics nationally. Of these, 24,425 had general registration and 813 had non-practising registration.

Paramedic numbers by gender (general and non-practising registration)

By gender, the national percentages are 50% female (12,617), 50% male (12,612) and <0.1% (9) not stated, intersex or indeterminate.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paramedics

There are 519 paramedics who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This is 2.1% of the total registrant number. 

For further data breakdowns by age, gender, registration type and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page.


Regulation 

Help us to better understand attitudes towards regulation – take the survey

Paramedics are invited to complete an anonymous online survey on your attitude towards regulation.

This survey is part of a larger research project which aims to explore practitioner attitudes towards regulation, and how these attitudes influence levels of engagement with regulators and throughout the regulatory process.

Have your say by completing the anonymous survey.

This research is being conducted by Adjunct Associate Professor Alan Morrison as part of his PhD: Human Ethics Approval: ETH23-8337 University of Technology, Sydney.

Latest court and tribunal cases

We publish summaries of court and tribunal cases for their educational value to the profession.

Victorian paramedic suspended for 12 months for falsifying registration certificate

A Victorian tribunal has found a paramedic engaged in professional misconduct by falsifying his registration certificate and holding himself out as a registered paramedic without conditions when in fact he had conditions requiring him to be supervised. The tribunal suspended him for 12 months and imposed a condition to complete education on ethics, as part of his re-registration.

Read more in the news item.

Former paramedic banned after failing to resuscitate dying patient

A former Victorian paramedic has been banned from reapplying for registration for five years after failing to attempt the resuscitation of a dying patient. The tribunal found that both his assessment of the patient’s condition and the decision to withhold resuscitation were substantially below the standard expected of a registered paramedic and conduct inconsistent with being a fit and proper person to hold registration.

Read more in the news item.


What's new?

New complaints checklist to assist practitioners

A new checklist for registered health practitioners aims to help you better address complaints when they are first raised by a patient or their family.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and may be stressful. This checklist provides guidance, so practitioners are more equipped to deal with feedback and complaints that are made directly to them by patients. We hope it will help practitioners better resolve some of these concerns when they are first raised.

The checklist is a resource to support practice and does not impose any additional obligations on practitioners.

The Board’s expectations about what to do if you receive a complaint from a patient are outlined in its Code of conduct.

Myths and misconceptions about notifications – getting the help you need

Too often, practitioners struggle in silence when they are dealing with a health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue – or even just the day-to-day challenges of being a health practitioner.

The best thing you can do – for yourself, for your family, and for your patients – is to seek help early and to actively engage in recommended treatments. This might be from your own GP, another health practitioner or from one of the many independent practitioner support services available.

There is a common misconception that if you seek help, your treating practitioner will automatically be required to report it to Ahpra and your registration may be affected.

The threshold for when treating practitioners need to make a mandatory notification about health is very high and only necessary when the public is at substantial risk of harm. The need for a mandatory notification to be made is not often met.

If you are managing your health and getting the help you need, you can usually continue to practise. The Board wants you to be healthy and safe to practise, and encourages you to seek help early when you need support.

Regulators come together as one million Australians turn to medicinal cannabis treatments

Maintaining a balance between access to medicinal cannabis and its safety is a priority for health regulators across Australia amid a growing number of prescriptions and the emergence of telehealth, online prescribing and direct-to-consumer health services. Australia’s medicine regulation system is complex, with different agencies responsible for overseeing the medicines themselves, the health professionals who prescribe and provide them, and the premises where they are stored and dispensed.

In February, Ahpra and several of the National Boards convened a forum in Melbourne that brought together health regulators to share information and regulatory intelligence, discuss any current risks to the public, and determine how all regulators can best work together.

The use of unregistered medicinal cannabis products has spiralled in recent years, from around 18,000 Australians in 2019 to more than one million in January 2024. The number of prescribers accessing the Authorised Prescriber and the Special Access Scheme has also risen sharply to more than 5,700 medical and nurse practitioners prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis products that have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for safety, quality, or efficacy.

The forum attendees agreed to continue discussions with the aim to monitor issues and identify any gaps in the regulatory and wider health response to this rapidly growing industry. In particular:

  • improving data and information sharing among Australia’s regulatory agencies
  • gaining a better understanding of the drivers of the recent rapid rise in access to these products
  • enhancing communication to prescribers, including clinical guidance, on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis products
  • examining ways of better educating consumers about medicinal cannabis medications, and
  • encouraging more research to drive the production of clinical guidelines for medicinal cannabis.

Read more in the communiqué on Ahpra’s website.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent

The Ahpra Accreditation Committee has published its Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent. The statement of intent aims to embed interprofessional collaborative practice across the continuum of healthcare settings.

The statement is a fundamental step towards achieving effective team-based and coordinated care across Australia. It is a commitment to improving the outcomes for patients and consumers by reducing the risk of fragmented and uncoordinated care.

Interprofessional collaborative practice is healthcare practice where multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together and with patients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination.

The statement represents a joint commitment from 53 stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action.

Read more in the news item.

Partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism. Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines on cultural safety for registered practitioners.

The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing. By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and continuing professional development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions in the National Scheme, we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated, as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour.

Read more in the media release.

Greater protections for patients in Western Australia as National Law changes are enacted

Health practitioner regulation and public protection were further strengthened in Western Australia earlier this month following the passage and enactment of changes to the National Law as it applies in that state.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Application Act was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia on 9 May and is now an Act of Parliament.

It contains a suite of changes, including protecting the title ‘surgeon’ when used by medical practitioners. It also allows Ahpra and the National Boards to issue a statement warning the public about individual practitioners, when there is a serious, unmanaged risk to public health and safety.

The Act brings Western Australia into greater alignment with the other states and territories. The Act also establishes a mechanism for WA to adopt any future changes to the National Law, while retaining the ability to make modifications and disallow amendments as necessary.

Most of these changes have started, with some to start later this year on a date to be agreed by governments. For more information about these changes, please visit the Ahpra National Law amendments page.

Mandatory reporting obligations for all WA registered health practitioners have not changed.


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.
 

 

 
 
Page reviewed 30/05/2024