October 2020

Issue 25 - October 2020


    Chair's message

    Hello, and welcome to the spring edition of our newsletter.

    I’d like to start by welcoming medical radiation practice students. You will now receive the Board’s newsletter alongside registered practitioners. You are a valued part of our profession and we hope you will find the newsletter helpful. And if you are getting ready to graduate, you can apply now to register − see the Students and graduates section below.

    Registration renewal is also coming up. We know that this has been a difficult year for everyone, and for some even more so as they deal with the financial impact of COVID19. The Board has a policy to assist practitioners experiencing financial hardship: read more below.

    In this issue we talk about the new videos that the Board has developed to support medical radiation practitioners, and some of the work to come. We also host a link to external research on shoulder imaging.

    We are looking for practitioners who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander who can advise us in our regulatory efforts to support and promote cultural safety. If you are interested, please get in touch.

    Stay safe.

    Mark Marcenko
    Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

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    Board news

    New videos on professional capabilities for medical radiation practitioners

    To support the start of revised Professional capabilities the Board has published two videos. The videos are part of a series and address the topics See something, say something for urgent or unexpected findings and responding to deteriorating patients.

    The videos are fun way of learning and highlight the important obligations of medical radiation practitioners. We encourage you to familiarise yourselves with the capabilities so you can provide the best care to your patients.

    Along with the videos we also published fact sheets for education providers and clinical supervisors, frequently asked questions and a policy to help practitioners to communicate safely if urgent or unexpected findings are identified.

    We are developing a video on cultural safety for release later this year.

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    Expertise in cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

    The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025 was launched in February and its work is well underway.

    Cultural safety is an important professional obligation for all registered practitioners. We are looking for practitioners who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander who can help advise us in our regulatory efforts to support and promote cultural safety.

    If you are interested, please get in touch with us at mrpba@ahpra.gov.au.

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    Research into shoulder imaging protocols

    From time to time the Board is asked to help with research projects that are related to medical radiation practice and have a connection to the Board’s role in regulating the profession. We have agreed to provide information about a research project focusing on shoulder imaging methods used across Australia.

    Participation in the research project is voluntary and all information provided as part of the project’s online survey is done so anonymously.

    The principal investigator is Dr Amy Dennett who can be contacted by email at amy.dennett@easternhealth.org.au. Alternatively, you can contact Paul Kelly, Tutor radiographer, Eastern Health by email at paul.kelly@easternhealth.org.au. The research has been approved by Eastern Health Human Research Ethics Committee (LR20/062).

    The aim of the research is to investigate, review and determine the best practice for current shoulder radiography. In particular, the research will:

    • gather and evaluate departmental protocols
    • identify mechanisms and justification for imaging, including modified and additional projections
    • inform and develop a current evidence base for shoulder imaging protocols. 

    The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete.

    The participant information statement for this research study and consent is included on the front page of the survey. Please use this link: https://researchsurveys.deakin.edu.au/jfe/form/SV_8eQnwljp4KPzIa1.

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    Financial hardship and registration fees

    The Board recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in several ways, including financial hardship.

    Financial hardship in the context of the National Scheme means that because of family tragedy, financial misfortune, unemployment, serious illness, impacts of a natural disaster, national health emergency and other serious or difficult circumstances a practitioner is unable to reasonably provide necessities such as food, accommodation, clothing, education and/or medical treatment for themselves, their family or other dependents, and by extension, the costs associated with their registration.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is considered a national health emergency for the purpose of this definition.

    Recent graduates

    Some recent graduates may be experiencing financial hardship because of loss of casual or part-time employment in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic. There may also be changes in financial circumstances in the graduate’s immediate household.

    If you are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay the required fees, please contact the Ahpra Customer Service team via web enquiry or on 1300 419 495 to discuss your individual situation before you complete your online graduate application. You can start your application online and pause it if you need to contact us about financial hardship.

    Renewing registration

    A payment plan will be available for health practitioners experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19. If eligible, practitioners will be able to pay half their registration fee at renewal and make a second payment in the first half of 2021. If this applies to you, you will need to complete and upload a financial hardship application form before completing your renewal – applications cannot be considered after a practitioner has renewed. Applications will close on 17 November 2020 to allow processing time.

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    Registration

    COVID-19 updates for November registration renewal

    National Boards have provided COVID-19 pandemic-related updates for practitioners due to renew their registration by 30 November 2020.

    CPD requirements

    The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique learning opportunity. Many practitioners are doing professional development on COVID-19 issues that ensures patient safety and effective practice during the crisis. The Board recognises this learning requirement and its contribution to professional development.

    For the purposes of CPD audit, practitioners need only indicate ‘COVID-19’ on their CPD records for the current registration period 2019/2020.

    While the Board will treat registered medical radiation practitioners as having met their CPD obligations during this registration period, we encourage you to continue to do CPD that is relevant to your scope of practice.

    Where do I go for more information?

    Please see the news item for more information.

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    Advertising declaration and audit

    When applying to renew their registration in 2020, health practitioners will be asked to declare that, if they advertise, their advertising meets Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) advertising requirements and will be accompanied by auditing to check compliance.

    Following an advertising audit declaration pilot in 2018, National Boards agreed in November 2019 to introduce a renewal declaration and audit as an effective approach to determine overall advertising and non-compliance rates.

    The audit, to be carried out by Ahpra’s Advertising Compliance team from February 2021, will not delay a decision on the application for renewal.

    This is part of the approach to improve compliance with National Law advertising requirements in the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme. The strategy supports improved compliance with National Law advertising requirements through a responsive, risk-based enforcement and educative approach.

    Evaluation, such as the 2018 pilot audit, is a core component and has informed the revised Advertising and compliance enforcement strategy due to be released soon.

    Updated Guidelines for advertising regulated health services to help health practitioners understand their obligations when they are advertising a regulated health service are also due to be released soon.

    Audited practitioners who are found to have non-compliant advertising will be managed under the strategy.

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    Latest workforce data released

    The Board’s latest quarterly report covers the period 1 April to 30 June 2020.

    • There are 18,243 registered medical radiation practitioners in Australia, of whom 17,840 have general registration.
    • There are 204 practitioners with provisional registration, one with limited registration and 198 with non-practising registration.
    • The registered workforce by gender is 68.2 % female and 31.8% male.
    • By division, there are 14,454 diagnostic radiographers, 1,216 nuclear medicine technologists and 2,555 radiation therapists.
    • Of those with dual registration, 16 are diagnostic radiographers and nuclear medicine technologists and two are diagnostic radiographers and radiation therapists.

    For more information, visit our Statistics page.

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    Students and graduates

    Graduating soon? Here’s what you need to know

    This year’s graduate registration campaign is underway. If you're set to complete your course within the next three months, apply now! See the Board’s news item for everything you need to know, including helpful tips, links to guidance documents and our video for graduating students.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives including clinical placements for students. Ahpra is taking COVID-19 into account in this year’s campaign.

    Avoid delays with your application

    Check out the resources on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website before you submit your application. This will help ensure your application is complete, so we don’t have to come back to you seeking clarification or more information. We can then get you registered as soon as we receive your graduate results.

    Financial hardship arrangements

    Some recent graduates may be experiencing financial hardship because of loss of casual or part-time employment in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic. There may also be changes in financial circumstances in the graduate’s immediate household.

    If you are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay the required fees, please contact the Ahpra Customer Service team via web enquiry or on 1300 419 495 to discuss your individual situation before you complete your online graduate application. You can start your application online and pause it if you need to contact us about financial hardship.

    Graduate experience survey and service improvements 

    Last year Aphra conducted the first ever survey of new graduates to hear about their experience registering for the first time. We contacted just over 24,000 graduates and had a great response rate of over 15 per cent to the voluntary survey.

    We’re very grateful to those graduates who participated, their feedback will help us improve the experience for this year’s graduates. Some of the improvements we’re making include:

    • emailing graduates with updates to complement the online application tracker and give more detail about where your application is at in the assessment process, and
    • providing more guidance on how to correctly certify photo identity documents.

    We hope this will make first-time registration a smoother, less stressful experience.

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    Provisional registrants – make sure your supervised practice is approved

    If you are granted provisional registration you must be enrolled in the Board’s Supervised practice program before you start practice. Each year some provisional registrants fail to have their supervised practice arrangements approved.

    If your supervised practice is not approved, it will delay completion of the program. You will also be asked to appear before the Board to provide an explanation and this may have implications for your registration.

    If you have a query about getting your supervised practice approved, please contact us at mrpsupervisedpractice@ahpra.gov.au.

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    Clinical education principles during the pandemic

    National Boards, accreditation authorities and Ahpra, with the Australian Government through the health and education portfolios, have issued national principles for clinical education during the COVID-19 pandemic. This unique multi-sector collaboration to protect Australia’s future health workforce is helping students learning to become health practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic continue their studies and graduate.

    Some student placements have been paused, cancelled or otherwise modified as health services respond to the pandemic. This has led to uncertainty and change for students and educators as education providers, accreditation authorities, clinical supervisors and others explore alternative options for students to progress towards graduation.

    The principles aim to provide helpful guidance about how placements can occur safely, taking into account the significant changes across the health and education sectors due to COVID-19. Visit the National principles for clinical education during COVID-19 to find out more.

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    National Scheme news

    Lend us your ears

    Have you tuned into Ahpra’s podcast, Taking care?

    Listen to conversations with practitioners, patients, advocates and thought leaders discussing current issues, innovations and how the healthcare system works to keep the public safe. Tune in to episodes about topics such as telehealth, practitioner wellbeing, the impact of the pandemic, and rural and remote practice.

    Now is a great time to download and listen to the latest Ahpra Taking care podcast, or pick any episode from our catalogue! You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

    Taking care podcast image July 2020

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    No room for racism in healthcare

    The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025 was launched in February and its work is well underway.

    This ambitious strategy from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts, regulators and health organisations is endorsed by organisations (including accreditation authorities), academics and individuals. It represents a shared commitment to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, making patient safety the norm and eliminating racism from the health system.

    In response to some examples of racist behaviour by health professionals amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ahpra and the National Boards reinforced their zero tolerance for racism in healthcare through a statement issued in April. Read the full statement on the Ahpra website.

    We also published an opinion piece in Croakey, which reinforced that cultural safety is a requirement for patient safety and we all have a role to play to eliminate racism.

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    Countering false and misleading advertising on COVID-19

    Ahpra and National Boards recognise the vital role of registered health practitioners in treating and containing the COVID-19 emergency. We know you are working hard to keep people safe in a demanding and fast-changing environment.

    A consequence of the current situation is greater public awareness of individual health and wellbeing, leading to many questions about treating and containing the disease. Patients and health consumers should always receive accurate and truthful messages so they can make the right choices about their healthcare. While most health practitioners are responding professionally to the COVID-19 emergency and focusing on providing safe care, we have seen some examples of false and misleading advertising on COVID-19.

    We recently reminded registered health practitioners that, other than sharing health information from authoritative sources, they should not make advertising claims on preventing or protecting patients and health consumers from contracting COVID-19 or accelerating recovery from COVID-19. To do so involves risk to public safety and may be unlawful advertising.

    It’s also important that health consumers treat any advertising claims about COVID-19 cautiously and check authoritative sources, such as state, territory or Commonwealth health departments, for health information. For more information, see Ahpra’s Advertising resources page.

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    Appropriate use of social media during the pandemic

    Ahpra and the National Boards appreciate the importance of a vigorous national debate on public policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we remind all registered health practitioners that their obligation to comply with their profession’s Code of conduct applies in all settings – including online.

    The Codes of conduct emphasise that practitioners must always communicate professionally and respectfully with or about other health care professionals.

    We have received concerns about the conduct of some health practitioners engaged in online discussion, including in semi-private forums.

    Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to maintain professional and ethical standards, as in all professional circumstances.

    In using social media, you should be aware of your obligations under the National Law and your Board’s Code of conduct. For more information see: Social media: How to meet your obligations under the National Law.

    Anyone with concerns about the online conduct of a health practitioner can contact Ahpra on 1300 419 495 or make a notification.

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    New guide to increase transparency in regulatory decision-making

    We have published a new guide explaining how National Boards and Ahpra apply the National Law* in the management of notifications about a practitioner’s performance, conduct or health. The guide aims to make it easier to understand how and why decisions are made.

    The Regulatory guide and an executive summary are available on the Corporate publications page on the Ahpra website.

    *Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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    Changes in regulatory practice since review of the use of chaperones to protect patients

    An independent report has found reforms of the regulatory management of allegations of sexual misconduct have had a profound impact.

    Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia commissioned the author of the ground-breaking 2017 Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia, Professor Ron Paterson, to assess what had been achieved and identify what more could be done to improve their handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

    Professor Paterson, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Melbourne Law School, found that Ahpra and the Medical Board have fully implemented ‘nearly all’ his recommendations and made significant changes to regulatory practice.

    The report notes the huge changes since 2017 to community and media discussion of sexual misconduct arising from the #Metoo movement and as a result of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    The report finds that the National Scheme compares favourably with international health practitioner regulators on this issue and is highly advanced in how it operates in this complex and demanding area. Major changes to regulatory practice made by the Medical Board and Ahpra since 2017 to improve the handling of allegations of sexual boundary violations include:

    • abandoning the use of mandated chaperones and only rarely imposing practice-monitor restrictions
    • centralising the expertise and handling of allegations of sexual boundary violations, and
    • extensive specialised education and training for decision-makers and investigators handling these matters.

    Ahpra and the Medical Board have accepted all Professor Paterson’s recommendations to ensure continuous improvement, including by:

    • improving communication with notifiers and practitioners and reducing timelines
    • improving support for notifiers (especially when cases go to tribunals), and for decision-makers and staff, and
    • applying new ministerial ‘public interest’ guidance to sexual boundary notification decisions.

    Sexual boundary violations have a devastating impact on patients. For highlights of our action plan to address Professor Paterson’s recommendations and more information, read the media release.

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    Review of confidentiality safeguards for notifiers

    In June we welcomed the independent review by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner of the confidentiality safeguards in place for individuals making notifications about registered health practitioners.

    The Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners was conducted at the request of Ahpra following the conviction of a general practitioner for the attempted murder of a pharmacist who had made a notification about his prescribing practices.

    It examined Ahpra’s current management of confidential and anonymous notifications and whether there were ways in which safeguards could be strengthened to ensure the safety of notifiers.

    The review found that Ahpra’s practices for managing confidentiality and anonymity were reasonable and consistent with the practices of other regulators internationally. However, there were improvements that could be made.

    The review makes practical recommendations for strengthening the protection of notifiers while recognising the importance of fairness for health practitioners who are the subject of a notification. We have accepted all 10 recommendations and outlined a timeline to adopt these changes. For more information and links to the documents, read the media release.

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    Social research results: perceptions of Ahpra and the National Boards

    Ahpra and National Boards have released results from the second annual survey of stakeholder understanding and perceptions of our role and work. The results help us to better understand what the community, regulated health professions, and our stakeholders think and feel about us, particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust. The insights gained will inform how we can improve our engagement with both the professions and the community.

    The report provides the results from anonymous surveys conducted in late 2019 of a random sample of registered practitioners and a random sample of members of the public across communities in Australia. There were nearly 6,000 responses from practitioners and 2,000 from the broader community. Both surveys were managed by an independent consultant.

    Overall, the results show positive perceptions of Ahpra and National Boards. The surveys were, in the main, the same as ones carried out in 2018 and enable comparison of changes in awareness and sentiment over the period. The reports in PDF format are available in the news item.

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    Keep in touch with the Board

    • Visit our website for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
    • Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
    • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Enquiries link on every web page under Contact us.
    • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
    • To update your contact details for important registration renewal emails and other Board updates, go to the Ahpra website: Update contact details.
    • Address mail correspondence to: Mark Marcenko, Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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      Page reviewed 8/10/2020