Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia - September 2023
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September 2023

Issue 35 - September 2023

From the Chair

Cara Miller Welcome to our winter newsletter, which highlights our symposium for medical radiation stakeholders to be held in Melbourne on 27 October 2023. I warmly invite you to be part of this important hybrid event which will feature leading experts, industry speakers and panel discussions on current and future topics affecting the profession.

We have been busy in recent months, with a focus on workforce pressures and were involved in a workforce summit hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine (ANZSNM). It was fantastic to see so many great minds come together and collaborate on possible solutions for such an important topic.

If you haven’t watched our short videos (See something, say something, Deteriorating patient and Cultural safety) or it’s been a while since you have, I encourage you to take five minutes to do so. They highlight some of the key capabilities expected of medical radiation practitioners. You’ll find them on the Professional capabilities page of our website.

Cara Miller

Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia

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Priority news

Join us at our symposium – in person or online

Capacity, capability and collaboration of the medical radiation practice profession is the theme of our hybrid symposium to be held in Melbourne on Friday 27 October 2023.

Attendees can join members of the Medical Radiation Practice Board at the Langham Hotel from 8.30am to 5pm or join online from across Australia.

The symposium will feature leading experts, industry speakers and panel discussions that aim to identify and consider how to address issues related to capacity, capability and collaboration, across sessions covering:

  • digital health and safe care
  • education and the future of practice
  • interprofessional practice and workplace culture
  • professional practice and capability.

More information about the day’s program will be published on the Board’s website soon.

Online attendance at the symposium is free.

For those who attend in person, the event is catered and includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. There will be a small fee for attending in person. Numbers are limited.

Register now.

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Board news

Making effective communication your priority in clinical care

Effective communication between practitioner and patient is a significant factor when it comes to providing safe care.

Insights from the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Annual Report 2021/22 show that communication as a primary cause, accounts for 4.9 per cent of complaints received. However, communication that fails to properly inform or does not adequately manage patient expectations is an element in a much larger number of complaints.

Complaints can arise because patients have experienced something that they were unclear about or were unaware would occur. Mismatched expectations will most often occur when the patient has a greater sense of vulnerability or power imbalance, for example, during intimate examinations or treatment.

Diagnostic radiographers and nuclear medicine technologists often provide healthcare services as a single, short-term interaction with a patient. For radiation therapists the short-term interaction with patients is just as critical. While you may have performed the examination or treatment countless times, often it’s the first time for the patient. Being aware of this perspective is critical to understanding the needs and expectations of patients.

Medical radiation practitioners, and indeed most health professionals, are tremendously busy. We know you are often trying to do many tasks at once. Unfortunately, one of the things that commonly gives way to the constant pressure of practice is the time given to engaging with patients, providing information about the examination or treatment, and hearing the patient’s questions or concerns.

You must actively listen and respond to the patient’s verbal (express or implied) and non-verbal cues and be more alert to patients’ need for information when examinations or treatment create greater vulnerability for the patient.

Empowering patients with knowledge and information about their healthcare service ensures clarity of expectations for both you and the patient and is essential to providing safe healthcare.

Revised professional capabilities – post-implementation review shows positive effects

The Medical Radiation Practice Board published revised professional capabilities for medical radiation practice in November 2019 after its commitment to ensure that the capabilities were operating as intended. Starting in late 2021, we carried out a post-implementation review of two capabilities, 1.7 a. and 1.7 c.:

1.7 Deliver patient/client care

a. Recognise patients/clients whose condition is deteriorating, or who are unable to undergo an examination/treatment and respond to their needs in an appropriate and timely way consistent with standards of safe and high-quality care. This includes calling for emergency help when needed.
c. If the practitioner identifies any urgent or unexpected findings, take appropriate and timely action to ensure the immediate management of the patient/client.

The post-implementation review report, published in May 2023, found there is a good body of evidence, both in literature and feedback from stakeholders, that these main capabilities are operating in the way that they were intended, reducing the risk of harm, and are producing a positive effect on patient care and safety.

Some practitioners experienced challenges in implementing the capabilities. Factors that have a negative impact include unsupportive workplace cultures, lack of support from some medical specialists, and the widespread workforce shortages associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The review found that it will take time for some professional capabilities to become embedded for the whole of workforce but work well where there is a supportive team and workplace culture that builds confidence. Read the news item for more information about the main findings and our next steps, and you can download the report.

New Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct is available

New Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct is now available. This easier to understand information will help people in the community who find it hard to read and understand English know what standards of conduct they can expect from a medical radiation practitioner.

The shared Code of conduct was updated last year to improve patient safety. As well as being a guiding document for health practitioners, the code is an important document for the public. The code outlines what the public can expect when they see a registered practitioner, including information about respect, culturally safe care, privacy and confidentiality, and communication.

The new Easy English information is accessible on the Board’s website along with other resources for the public. There are also resources to help practitioners understand and apply the code, including FAQs and case studies.


Have your say on the criminal history standard for registered health practitioners

When is criminal history incompatible with healthcare practice? What risks are acceptable – and manageable – when it comes to public safety?

From traffic offences at one end, to murder and serious sexual assault at the other, there is a spectrum of seriousness when it comes to criminal offences.

The Medical Radiation Practice Board decides case by case whether to grant someone registration as a practitioner or allow them to return to practice, based on their criminal history. This process is the same for every registered profession.

As the National Boards and Ahpra review the criminal history registration standard, we’re keen to know what the professions and the community expect.

We are reviewing the criminal history registration standard to make sure it is up to date and relevant. This work is part of our blueprint for reform to strengthen public safety in health regulation, which has a focus on sexual misconduct in healthcare.

Tell us what you think about the current version of the criminal history standard and other work to improve public safety in health regulation.

Your feedback will shape our thinking. There’ll be another opportunity to comment when we consult on changes to the registration standard down the track.

More information about the review and how to make a submission is available on the Ahpra Consultations page. The consultation closes on 14 September 2023.

Consultation on possible further changes to English language skills requirements

The National Boards and Ahpra are inviting stakeholders to have their say on two possible further changes to the National Boards’ English language skills requirements.

This follows broad support from stakeholders for proposed revised English language skills registration standards (the ELS standards) during a public consultation from 13 July to 7 September 2022 by Ahpra and all National Boards (except the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia).

This consultation is not inviting further feedback on the changes to the ELS standards already consulted on. We now want to hear your views on two further possible changes to the English language skills requirements: expanding the range of recognised countries and a change to one element of the English test results accepted by National Boards.

These two possible changes are recommendations in the Independent review of overseas health practitioner regulatory settings - interim report (the Kruk review) which was endorsed by the National Cabinet in April 2023.

The four-week consultation closes on 13 September. More information is on our Consultations page.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s quarterly registration data to 30 June 2023 has been published. At this date, there were 18,601 registered medical radiation practitioners, of whom 18,159 have general registration. This figure includes 14,922 diagnostic radiographers, 2,758 radiation therapists and 1,280 nuclear medicine technologists.

There are 122 practitioners who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

There are 13,065 female practitioners (68.9%) and 5,908 male practitioners (31.1%). Three practitioners identified as intersex or indeterminate (<0.1%).

For more data, including registration by principal place of practice and age, visit our Statistics page to read the report.

Additional English language tests for registration applicants

The Board has agreed to accept additional English language tests to provide further flexibility to people applying for registration. The tests are:

  • OET Computer Based Test
  • IELTS One Skill Retake.

Applicants for registration should visit the test provider’s website directly to find out more about these tests. Information about test providers is available on the Ahpra website.

All other requirements set out in the Board’s English language skills registration standard still apply.

What’s new?

Public protection is the focus of new National Law reforms

Public protection is at the forefront in the latest round of reforms to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The changes started on 15 May, in all states and territories except Western Australia (where the changes will be introduced later).

Better protecting the public from serious risk

One significant change gives Ahpra and the National Boards a new power to issue a public statement to warn the public about a serious risk from an individual – either a registered health practitioner or a person who does not hold registration but is providing a health service. Issuing a public statement means we can warn the public about a serious risk at an early stage, while we continue to investigate. There is a high threshold that must be met to use the power, which we anticipate will be used sparingly and only in exceptional cases to better protect the public.

Read more in the public statements warnings FAQs.

Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme

Other changes will help us improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme and help create a fairer system. These changes include:

  • an update to our complaints process which introduces the ability to compel practitioners to provide information at an earlier point in the assessment process. This will mean we can deal with complaints more efficiently and improve the experience for both the notifier and the practitioner
  • more suitable options for National Boards to respond to practitioners who continue to practise after their registration has lapsed, and
  • improved information-sharing abilities for National Boards with relevant parties such as registered practitioners’ former employers, when necessary to alert them to potential harm to the public.

More information

Some of the changes do not apply in NSW, because of differences in how concerns are managed in that state. For example, the power to issue a public statement and the power to require information at an earlier point in the assessment process are already held by the Health Care Complaints Commission. Read more about the NSW regulators.

The changes are the latest in a wide range of reforms outlined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which came into law last October. For more information, read the news item and see the resources on the Ahpra National Law amendments webpage.

Measures announced to safely welcome more international practitioners

Ahpra and the National Boards welcome moves to safely introduce more trained practitioners into the nation’s health system sooner, as recommended by an independent review into Australia’s health regulatory settings (the Kruk review). The main changes will be:

  • Assessment red tape to be cut, allowing more international practitioners to enter and work in Australia safely and sooner.
  • Greater recognition of international qualifications from comparable health systems to fast-track some approvals.
  • Reviewing current standards, including English language and recency of practice requirements.

Interim findings of the Kruk review endorse measures put forward by Ahpra to cut the red tape and costs faced by qualified internationally trained practitioners wanting to work in Australia’s health system.

For more information, read the news item.

Listen up! Latest podcasts on challenges for our international workforce

Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Listen and subscribe by searching for 'Taking care' in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on the website.

The latest topics are ‘The challenges for our overseas workforce: Why the system needs to keep adapting to better support a safe, diverse and appropriate health workforce’ and ‘Repaving the path to Australia for international health workers’. Read more in the news item.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. You can subscribe on the newsletter page.

National Scheme news banner graphic 

Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit our website for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs.

  • 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 9125 3010 (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: Cara Miller, Chair, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

Cara Miller
Page reviewed 8/12/2023