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Over the past few years there have been profound changes in the regulation of the health professions. Fourteen professions are now included in a new national scheme and others may join them. All of the registered professions are covered by the same legislation for accreditation, registration and the monitoring of practice, to ensure that standards are maintained to protect the public. More than half a million health practitioners are registered under the national scheme and, when it was adopted in July 2010, 66 acts of parliament were repealed and about 85 health professional boards were abolished. This subject will provide a detailed examination of the new scheme, which has centralised the disciplinary process, with the state and territory registration bodies acting under delegated authority from the federal board. The subject will also provide an understanding of how health practitioners, their employers and educators have a mandatory obligation to report ‘notifiable conduct’ of practitioners to the national regulator, and how healthcare consumers (patients) lodge a ‘notification’ about the practice of a health practitioner, rather than a ‘complaint’. The course will also scrutinise how unregistered practitioners are now regulated in some jurisdictions and will analyse how practitioners’ conduct is regulated by consumer protection legislation, which precludes certain forms of misleading advertising about services.
Principal topics include:
- Legal requirements for accreditation, registration and monitoring of practice of health practitioners in Australia
- The process and grounds for disciplinary action
- An examination of specific disciplinary proceedings against health practitioners, looking at issues of conduct, health, performance and fitness
- A comparison of disciplinary proceedings and other legal action against health practitioners
- Analysis of the regulatory mechanisms applicable to unregistered practitioners
- An evaluation of the new registration scheme and its operation to date
- A review of consumer protection actions that can be taken against health practitioners, both those who are registered and those who are not.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal requirements for accreditation, registration, and the monitoring of practice of health practitioners in Australia.
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving the extensive parliamentary revision of the legal framework.
- Be aware of the criticism of the new registration scheme and the way it has been implemented in practice; and be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret, assess and respond to the critical comments about it.
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding methods of regulation of health practitioners and the potential for unfair treatment and discrimination.
- Be able to appreciate the new mechanisms for regulation of unregistered components of the health workforce.
- Have an understanding of the role of consumer protection bodies in regulating advertising, promotion and representations about health practitioners’ practices.
- Have well developed communication skills to articulate clearly and convey complex information regarding the regulatory structure to health practitioners and the wider community.
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the disciplinary process in relation to health practitioners and how it differs from the earlier process for members of different health professions.
- Have a sophisticated understanding and well developed communication skills to advise patients and others about the process for lodging notifications about a health practitioner’s practice, and to advise health practitioners on how to respond to notifications relating to their practice.
- Have undertaken detailed study of a range of law reports relating to disciplinary proceedings against health practitioners in order to appreciate the underlying principles relating to the imposition of disciplinary penalties.
- Be able to analyse critically the ethical and legal issues relating to the regulation of health practitioners in a detailed, fully referenced research essay.
Last updated: 2 December 2019