June 2018

Issue 16

    • Keep in touch with the Board

      • Chair’s message

        Welcome to the June 2018 newsletter of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (the Board). You’ll notice a new look to our newsletter and we hope the new format is easier to read during your busy day. To assist our practitioners with English language conditions, the Board’s newsletter will be provided in the Chinese language (562 KB,PDF) as well.

        We’ll continue to keep you up to date with changes to standards and guidelines, public consultations, regulation and registration matters, Board projects and events.

        In this issue we focus on assisting you to advertise Chinese medicine services legally and ethically. See inside for details of upcoming education sessions in Sydney and Canberra. We also draw your attention to the legal requirements related to importing medicines and medical devices.

        If you are starting a period of non-practice the details about the option of non-practising registration may be of interest and assistance to you.

        There is an important reminder about conditions of registration and general information related to the National Scheme as a whole, including recent public consultations.

        The Board has also agreed that critical documents such as mandatory registration standards will be translated into Chinese to enhance compliance with standards set by the National Board. Please click the link in the story below to obtain the Chinese version of these standards.

        Professor Charlie Xue
        Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

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        Board news

        Board releases registration standards in Chinese

        Chinese-speaking Chinese medicine practitioners will now be in a stronger position to understand their registration requirements, with the profession’s registration standards now available in Chinese.

        Five of the profession’s core registration standards have been translated into Chinese, and are available on the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia’s website.

        The translated standards are:

        • Continuing professional development
        • Criminal history
        • English language skills
        • Professional indemnity insurance, and
        • Recency of practice.

        The move is a first for the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, who has committed to facilitating a better understanding of important regulatory information for practitioners.

        Chinese Medicine Board of Australia Chair Professor Charlie Xue said the Board’s fundamental obligation is to protect the public by registering only suitably trained, qualified, competent and ethical practitioners.

        ‘The Board not only sets the standards and guidelines for the profession, we also support practitioners to understand and meet their professional obligations,’ Professor Xue said.

        ‘The Board has been asked by a significant number of Chinese-speaking registrants to provide more Chinese translations of important information. We have listened, and this is why we have chosen to translate these important policy documents.’

        Professor Xue reiterated that the English version remains the authorised version that defines the registration standards Chinese medicine applicants, registrants and students must meet in order to be registered.

        There is still a strong expectation that registered Chinese medicine practitioners will make suitable arrangements to ensure their understanding of all documents issued by the Board.

        Non-practising registration  ̶  what does it entail?

        A registered practitioner may apply to the Board for non-practising registration under Division 5 of the National Law. The practitioner must not practise in Australia while holding non-practising registration. Similar to other types of registrations, non-practising registration must be renewed every 12 months.

        When you choose to be registered as non-practising, the registration standards for continuing professional development (CPD) and professional indemnity insurance (PII) do not apply during the non-practising period. However, it would be expected that you maintain your professional knowledge if you intend to return to practice at a later stage.

        Return to practice

        The Board has been asked about the implications for the return to practice from non-practising registration. How long you are non-practising may be relevant to the recency of practice provisions. If you have not practised for three years (or if you have not practised since first graduating, the period is two years), re-entry to practice requirements apply. This most commonly involves a short period of supervised practice. However, if you have practised overseas in Chinese medicine during this period, that practice is valid in meeting the Board’s recency of practice requirements.

        Alternatively, if you choose to let your registration lapse rather than hold non-practising registration, then you would need to reapply in order to regain registration. Having been registered before qualifies you for registration, and you then have to meet the suitability requirements (such as criminal history, English proficiency, outstanding or historical complaint matters, health impairment and so on).

        If you maintain general registration (practising) during a period of non-practice, the following obligations still apply:

        • PII arrangements
        • CPD (unless you apply to the Board for an exemption for extenuating circumstances), and
        • recency of practice.

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        Conditions on registration

        Some practitioners are registered with conditions (that is, specific requirements) that must be complied with for the person to remain registered.

        Some registration conditions must be fulfilled before the person can practise whereas others apply during practice. The legislation requires that all conditions must have a review period.

        The main registration conditions that apply to Chinese medicine practitioners are:

        1. Australian health care context condition which particularly applies to overseas trained practitioners who have not previously practised in Australia. It requires the person to undergo suitable training to understand the Australian healthcare structure and processes for practice in Australia. The practitioner is required to provide suitable evidence of the training to the Board before the condition is removed.
        2. Supervised practice before the practitioner can practise independently. It is used for example, when a practitioner has not practised for a considerable period of time or is intending to make a substantial change to their scope of practice. The practitioner must provide supervision reports to the Board until the Board is satisfied with the competence of the practitioner to practise independently.
        3. English language conditions. This was a special dispensation given by Health Ministers for Chinese medicine practitioners already practising at the time of transition to the new National Scheme if their communication in English was not sufficient to meet the normally expected English language skills of health practitioners in Australia. It requires a practitioner to use a suitable interpreter whenever the practitioner and patient do not share a common language. It also requires a person to be available at all times in the health service, with sufficient English skills to communicate effectively with authorities in an emergency. About 18 per cent of registered Chinese medicine practitioners have this condition of registration. This is an ongoing condition and practitioners must attest to their compliance at each annual renewal.

        AHPRA and the Board monitor compliance with registration conditions as required by the National Law and in the interests of public safety.

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        Chinese Medicine Board releases presentation on its regulatory practice

        We have published a presentation from our recent roadshow to help inform practitioners and the public about the Board and its regulatory work.

        The presentation, ‘Chinese medicine regulation in Australia’, has information on: 

        • the role of AHPRA and the Board
        • notification trends for Chinese medicine practitioners, and
        • advertising obligations for Chinese medicine practitioners.

        The presentation can be found on the Position statements page of the Board’s website.

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        Are you importing therapeutic goods for use with your patients? Be aware of your legal obligations

        If a practitioner imports therapeutic goods, whether the goods are manufactured medicines or medical devices, for use in treating their patients, they need to be aware of their legal obligations.

        Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, if a health practitioner imports a manufactured medicine or medical device for the treatment of their patients then that practitioner becomes the sponsor of those goods for the supply of the goods onto the Australian market. The practitioner is required to enter the goods onto the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before they can be used to treat patients. Being a sponsor of imported therapeutic goods also involves other responsibilities including meeting advertising requirements, mandatory reporting of any adverse events and maintaining the quality of the goods. 

        While there are some special provisions under the legislation which permit import and use of unapproved therapeutic goods for use in patients, these provisions involve prior approval by the TGA for the import and use of the goods and are primarily intended for medical practitioners in exceptional circumstances.

        Using therapeutic goods to treat patients when these goods are not entered on the ARTG as required by law is not only a serious offence under the Therapeutic Goods Act but also may affect the practitioner’s cover under their professional indemnity insurance.

        If you intend to import therapeutic goods, you should carefully check the TGA requirements (refer to www.tga.gov.au) and also check with your professional indemnity insurer.

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        Helping you to comply with the advertising requirements

        Not sure you are meeting your obligations? Have you been contacted by AHPRA about your advertising? Follow these steps to make sure you comply with your professional and legal obligations.

        Advertising resources developed to help you are available on the AHPRA Advertising resources page, including:

        Checklist - FAQ - Self-assessment tool - Fact sheet evidence - Profession-specific examples - Testimonial tool

        See also the Board’s position statement about advertising: in short, Chinese medicine practitioners should not include any therapeutic claims about the treatment of health conditions in their advertising that cannot be substantiated with acceptable and up-to-date (scientific) evidence.

        Information sessions on advertising compliance

        The Board is delivering an information session on ‘Ensuring advertising complies with the National Law’. A bilingual session was held in Melbourne on Sunday 6 May (see photo) and the same presentation was delivered at the Australasian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Annual Conference on 18 May run by the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd.

        Future bilingual sessions are planned as follows: 

        • Sydney  ̶  Saturday 30 June at 6.00pm
        • Canberra  ̶  Sunday 5 August at 1.00pm

        The Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Societies Ltd (FCMA) will be advertising further details in the Chinese media.

        Chinese Medicine Board session May 2018

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        Practitioner audit will soon begin

        All registered Chinese medicine practitioners are required to comply with the Board’s registration standards and declare whether they were compliant when renewing their registration. We conduct regular audits to assess registrants’ compliance with the standards. This provides assurance to the public and practitioners that the requirements of the National Law are understood, and that practitioners are compliant.

        The Board’s fifth practitioner audit will soon begin.

        As a registered Chinese medicine practitioner you may be selected at random for audit. If you are selected for audit, you will receive an audit notice in the mail from AHPRA. It includes information and a checklist that outlines what supporting documentation is required to demonstrate that you meet the standard(s) being audited.

        If you have been selected, please access the Audit page on Board’s website, which provides comprehensive information about the audit process including guidance on the audit notice and what it means for you, as well as contact details for the audit team and AHPRA customer service team who can assist you with any queries.

        Audit results for 2016 and 2017

        The majority of the audits initiated in 2016 and 2017 are now complete. 

        For all audits completed to date, in 2016 and 2017 (combined), 92% of practitioners audited were found to be in full compliance with the registration standards. Of the remainder:

        • 1.1% were found to be non compliant with one or more standards
        • 0.3 % were found to be compliant through education in one or more standards
        • 4.3% required consideration and decision by the Board or other relevant body,*and
        • 2.3% were closed with no action, as practitioners changed registration type to non-practising or surrendered their registration after being advised that they were subject to audit. 

        Where appropriate, the Board has adopted an educational approach to conducting audits, seeking to balance the protection of the public with the use of appropriate regulatory force to manage those practitioners found to be non-compliant with the audited standards.

        *Chinese Medicine Council of NSW for practitioners practising in NSW, and the Office of the Health Ombudsman, Queensland for practitioners practising in Queensland.

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        Annual report 2016/17: a snapshot of the profession

        The 2016/17 annual report provides a nationwide snapshot of the work of AHPRA and the National Boards and highlights a multi-profession approach to risk-based regulation, with a clear focus on ensuring that the public are protected.

        To view the 2016/17 annual report, along with supplementary tables that segment data across categories such as registration, notifications, statutory offences, tribunals and appeals, and monitoring and compliance, see the Annual Report microsite or download the annual report and National Board summaries on the AHPRA website. State and territory summaries are also available.

        This year saw the largest online registration renewal rate ever achieved across all 14 registered health professions. Over 98.5% of all registered health practitioners renewed online and on time, with 97.6% of Chinese medicine practitioners renewing online. According to a workforce survey that practitioners can choose to fill out at the time of registration/renewal, 0.4% of Chinese medicine practitioners are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (19 practitioners nationally).

        A snapshot of the profession in 2016/17:

        Chinese Medicine Board Infographic 2016/17

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        National Scheme news

        New tools to help advertisers of regulated health services stay within the law

        AHPRA and National Boards have been working on making it easier to understand the legal obligations of advertising a regulated service, which apply to registered practitioners and people who are not registered, as well as corporate entities.

        The latest resources published are a self-assessment tool that helps practitioners and advertisers check and correct their advertising and a testimonial tool to help them understand why testimonials can’t be used in advertising.

        The self-assessment tool asks users to consider some questions about their advertising, which can help them understand if it is in breach of the National Law and if changes must be made.

        The testimonial tool includes information and flow charts to help users understand why testimonials are not allowed and which reviews or feedback can be used in advertising.

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        Release of national registration standards for paramedics

        New national registration standards for paramedics have been released in readiness for the national registration of all paramedics, which is expected late this year.

        When paramedicine becomes a regulated profession under the National Scheme later this year, the title ‘paramedic’ will become a protected title under the National Law. This means that only people who are registered with the Paramedicine Board of Australia will be able to lawfully call themselves a paramedic.

        To register, paramedics must demonstrate that they meet the five mandatory registration standards:

        • continuing professional development
        • criminal history
        • English language skills
        • professional indemnity insurance arrangements, and
        • recency of practice.

        The Paramedicine Board has also released a time-limited grandparenting registration standard, which temporarily provides a path to registration for current paramedics who don’t have an approved or accepted qualification, but can demonstrate their competency via other training, qualification and/or experience.

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        New research framework launched to improve patient safety

        In January, National Boards and AHPRA published a research framework to help transform health practitioner regulation to improve patient safety.

        A research framework for the National Scheme: Optimising our investment in research sets out the research priorities and principles for National Boards and AHPRA to focus their research efforts.

        The framework includes the priority research areas of: defining harms and risks related to the practice of regulated health professions, regulatory taxonomy or classification scheme, risk factors for complaints and/or poor practitioner performance, evidence for standards, codes and/or guidelines, evaluating regulatory interventions, stakeholder satisfaction and engagement, work readiness and workforce capacity and distribution.

        It has been published to provide a solid base to facilitate risk-based research and evaluation activities, with a clear focus on translating the outcomes of research into initiatives that will inform regulatory policy development and decision-making to maximise the public benefit.

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        Research finds truly vexatious complaints are very rare

        New independent research commissioned by AHPRA has looked internationally at vexatious complaints, finding these are very rare and that there is more risk from people not reporting concerns than from making complaints in bad faith.

        The report found that the number of vexatious complaints dealt with in Australia and internationally is very small, less than one per cent, but they have a big effect on everyone involved. The research also confirms that the risk of someone not reporting their concerns is greater than if the complaint turns out to be vexatious.

        Most of Australia’s 700,000 registered health practitioners provide great care, but patients also have the right to make a complaint when things don’t go so well.

        The best available evidence suggests that truly vexatious complaints are very rare, and that under-reporting of well-founded concerns is likely a far greater problem.

        There is a common misconception that a complaint must have been vexatious if it resulted in no regulatory action. However, a decision by a National Board not to take regulatory action does not mean that the complaint was unfounded or made in bad faith. For example, a risk to the public may have been adequately addressed between the time the complaint was made and when the investigation concluded.

        The report will be used to inform best practice for reducing, identifying, and managing vexatious complaints and helps to identify opportunities to work with others to help reduce their frequency and adverse consequences.

        The report is available on the AHPRA website under Published research.

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        Public consultation on review of accreditation arrangements

        National Boards and AHPRA are consulting on future accreditation arrangements from mid-2019, when the current term of assignment of accreditation functions ends.

        The National Law sets out the accreditation functions in the National Scheme; these include developing accreditation standards, accrediting programs of study against approved accreditation standards and assessing overseas qualified practitioners.

        Public consultation closed on Monday 14 May 2018. The consultation paper is available under Past consultations.

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        Consultation paper on the draft guideline for informing a National Board about where you practise

        The Board has published a consultation paper on the draft guideline for informing a National Board about where you practise.

        In September 2017, the Queensland Parliament passed the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. The Bill contained a set of amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law), as in force in each state and territory except Western Australia. Corresponding legislation has also been passed in Western Australia. These amendments include changes to the information a registered health practitioner is required to provide about their practice arrangements when requested by the National Board (referred to as ‘practice information’).

        The draft guideline has been developed to help Chinese medicine practitioners and other health practitioners provide practice information in a way that meets their obligations under the National Law.

        Public consultation closed on 25 May 2018. The consultation paper is available under Past consultations.

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        Keep in touch with the Board

        • Visit the Chinese Medicine Board website for news about the profession, information on the National Scheme and for registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets.
        • Read the National Board Communiqué each month on the website: these publications inform everyone of the decisions made at the Board’s monthly meeting.
        • Lodge an online enquiry form.
        • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
        • Address mail correspondence to: Prof. Charlie Xue, Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.

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        Page reviewed 26/07/2018