Registration standards and declarations to AHPRA
Health practitioners registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 (the National Law), or seeking registration under the National Law, should ensure that are familiar with the requirements of the Registration Standards developed by the applicable National Board. The Registration Standards concern the following:
- professional indemnity insurance arrangements;
- matters about the criminal history of applicants for registration, registered health practitioners and students registered by the Board;
- requirements for continuing professional development for registered health practitioners;
- requirements about the English language skills required by an applicant for registration; and
- requirements in relation to the nature, extent, period and recency of any previous practice of the profession.
The obligations to comply are continuing, that is not just at the time of initial registration but throughout registration. Failure to comply may be evidence of unsatisfactory conduct.
All current Registration Standards (together with other applicable Codes and Guidelines) may be found on the relevant National Board website.
The National Law states that when making a determination in relation to application for initial registration (or the renewal of registration) the relevant Board must refuse to grant the registration if the applicant does not meet the requirements for registration in a Registration Standard.
In an application for renewal of registration, a practitioner must provide a declaration accompanying their application confirming that the registrant:
- Does not have an impairment;
- Has met any recency of practice requirements;
- Has completed continuing professional development requirements;
- Has not practised and will not practise without appropriate professional indemnity insurance;
and also details concerning:
- Any change in the registrant’s criminal history (convictions, pleas and charges whether in Australia or elsewhere);
- The withdrawal or restriction of rights to practise at a hospital or other facility because of the registrant’s conduct, professional performance or health;
- The withdrawal of restriction of billing privileges under the Medicare Australia Act 1973 (Cth) because of the registrant’s conduct, professional performance or health;
- Any complaint made about the applicant to a registration authority or another entity having functions in relation to the professional services provided by the registrant; and
- Any other information required under a Registration Standard.
Providing false or misleading information in the statement may be a ground upon which a Board can refuse to renew a practitioner’s registration. In Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v FH  QCAT 675, the Board brought proceedings before the relevant tribunal on the grounds that an applicant for re-registration had made a false statement on his application and had failed to disclose a number of charges (and on the grounds of the applicant’s subsequent conviction as a result of the indictable offences the subject of the charges):
“The statutory declaration goes to a fundamental issue for registration as a nurse, the applicant’s fitness to hold a position of significant trust. It is a key component of the protective function of registration. The importance of accurate and comprehensive disclosure is reflected in the significant penalty the Tribunal has imposed on FH”.
A false declaration to the National Board may also have criminal implications. A practitioner who makes a false declaration to the Board in their statutory declaration may be found guilty of an offence under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (Cth), which is punishable by up to 4 years’ imprisonment.
The Registration Standards are relevant in professional conduct proceedings. The National Law provides that a Registration Standard can be admissible in proceedings against a health practitioner as evidence of what constitutes appropriate professional conduct or practice for the health profession.
More specifically, Registration Standards can also constitute behaviour for which health, conduct or performance action may be taken in relation to the following (for example):
- failure to undertake the continuing professional development required by an approved registration standard; and
- practising without appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place.
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Dominique Egan, Partner