On 2 November 2015 the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the National Boards annual report for 2014/15 was published. A total of 637,218 health practitioners are registered from 14 different professions in Australia representing overall growth of 2.9% over the past year.

Writing today in the Age newspaper, Julia Medew drew attention to the following aspects of the report:

New data shows 5702 health professionals, including doctors, nurses and dentists, were being watched by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency last financial year because of concerns about their conduct.

Doctors, nurses and Chinese medicine practitioners made up the bulk of those being monitored and the most common reason was their “suitability and eligibility” for the job. This could mean they do not hold an approved or substantially equivalent qualification in their profession, lack English language skills, or do not fully meet the requirements of any other approved registration standard.

Health matters were the next most common issue, affecting 1153 practitioners. This includes a physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence) which may require ongoing drug testing. Another 775 were being tracked because of previous conduct, such as performing to a “lesser standard” or having a criminal history. Another 691 professionals were being monitored because of previous deficiencies in their knowledge, skill, judgment or care.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s annual report also revealed there were 833 “mandatory notifications” last financial year for sexual misconduct, practising while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, or placing the public at risk through a health impairment or departure from accepted professional standards.

… Overall, AHPRA received 8426 complaints about health professionals last year – down from 10,047 the previous year. The most common reasons were concerns about clinical care and about a practitioner’s health impairment, such as their eyesight or cognition. Other common concerns were about medications, communication, documentation and “boundary violations”.

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