February 2019

 Issue 18


Chair’s message

Welcome to our first newsletter for 2019, also available to read in Chinese.

Last year we received requests from Chinese-speaking practitioners who wanted more information from the Board to be available in Chinese. So we started offering our newsletter and key documents in Chinese to support practitioners’ understanding of their regulatory obligations. We’re monitoring the Chinese version of the newsletter to assess whether it is worthwhile to keep producing it, bearing in mind the cost, and the fact that we have had lower readership numbers than we had hoped for.

In our first newsletter for the year, we would love to find out if the Chinese version of the newsletter is useful for you and what we could do to improve it. We particularly encourage Chinese-speaking practitioners to get in touch with us at chinesemedicineconsultation@ahpra.gov.au and send us your feedback.

本期是今年第一期新闻稿,我们希望了解中文版新闻稿对您是否有用,了解我们该做些什么来加以改进。我们特别欢迎讲中文的执业医师通过chinesemedicineconsultation@ahpra.gov.au联系我们,提出反馈意见。

By now you will all have renewed your registration and we wish you well for Chinese New Year and a healthy and prosperous 2019.

Distinguished Professor Charlie C. Xue
Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

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Board news

Call for applications for appointment to Chinese Medicine Board committees

The Board is calling for applications for appointment to the Registration and Notifications Committee and the Policy, Planning and Communications Committee.

For more information on both of these opportunities, please see the online committee member recruitment page. Applications close on Friday 1 March 2019.

Call for applications from recent graduates: Chinese Medicine Reference Group

The Board has decided to add a new position to the membership of the Chinese Medicine Reference Group (see details below). This is a dedicated recent graduate position. To be eligible for appointment applicants must have completed their qualification within the last two years and hold current registration. Applications are due to open on Saturday 2 March 2019 and will be advertised on the online committee member recruitment page.

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Chinese Medicine Reference Group: new term and new members

In September 2018, the Board called for applications from registered Chinese medicine practitioners for appointment to the Chinese Medicine Reference Group (the Reference Group). The purpose of the Reference Group is to ensure and enhance a common understanding of the National Scheme from the differing perspectives of our stakeholders.

The Reference Group consists of health practitioners and representatives of organisations, who give collective advice to the Board. The composition of the group is normally at least 10 members including:
  • national professional association representatives
  • consumer representatives
  • educational institution representatives
  • representation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and
  • four registered Chinese medicine practitioners and one recently graduated registered Chinese medicine practitioner, who are selected on merit, based on published selection criteria.

The Board was delighted to receive a strong field of applications. A selection panel reviewed the applications and conducted interviews and referee checks.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of the following practitioner representatives to the Chinese Medicine Reference Group for a two-year term:

Reappointment of existing members

  • Ms Dina Tsiopelas
  •  Dr Kevin Ryan

New appointments

  • Mr Shengxi (George) Zhang
  • Ms Honglin (Linda) Yang

The second term began on 1 January 2019 and ends on 31 December 2020. Congratulations to our new and returning appointees.

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Hobart forum report: reaching practitioners in remote regions

National registration for Chinese medicine practitioners has been in operation for over six years and over that time, the Board has held a number of meetings/forums to engage more directly with the profession. This is a strategic priority for the Board. Another priority is communicating with practitioners in more remote areas of Australia. On 1 February 2019, two Board members and the Executive Officer gave a presentation to 10 practitioners in Hobart, Tasmania.

This covered the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme) and the differing roles of the entities within it, emerging themes from complaints, Board policy work and recent concerns about lawful advertising. Those present took the opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues of interest with the Board.

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Wellington conference report: good governance training for Board members

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is a member of the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR), which promotes regulatory excellence through conferences, educational programs and so on as well as providing networking opportunities, publications and research services for those involved in, or affected by, professional and occupational regulation.

CLEAR does not often hold courses in the southern hemisphere but held board member training (Advanced Concepts in Regulatory Governance) in late November 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. Members of the Chinese Medicine Board attended the CLEAR training course as well as holding a meeting to review progress on the Board’s regulatory plan.

The training gave us excellent information about good governance in a regulatory environment including discussions on current international issues and trends. In addition, Board members were able to exchange information with fellow regulators, especially those involved with the health sector in New Zealand. It was evident that the National Scheme in Australia is very well placed in being able to fulfil its community safety role.

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Highlights from the Board’s annual report 2017/18

The annual report for AHPRA and the National Boards for the year to 30 June 2018 is published online. You can read more about this in National Scheme news below.

AHPRA and the National Boards will publish profession-specific summaries shortly and these will also be available for download from the AHPRA website. In the meantime, here are some registration and regulation highlights from the Chinese Medicine Board:

A snapshot of the profession: registration and regulation

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4,882 Chinese medicine practitioners

  • Up 0.5% from 2016/17
  • 0.7% of all registered health practitioners
   
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43 notifications lodged with AHPRA about Chinese medicine practitioners

   
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1.5% of all registered Chinese medicine practitioners had notifications made about them

   
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30 notifications closed this year:

  • 10% resulted in conditions being imposed on a Chinese medicine practitioner's registration
  • 3.3% resulted in a Chinese medicine practitioner receiving a caution or reprimand by the Board
  • 3.3% resulted in suspension or cancellation of registration83.3% resulted in no further action being taken
Exclamation mark icon. Immediate action was taken 5 times
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3 mandatory notifications were made: all about standards

   
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22 Chinese medicine practitioners were monitored by AHPRA for health, performance and/or conduct during the year

   
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887 cases were being monitored by AHPRA as at 30 June 2018

  • 5 on the grounds of conduct
  • 4 for performance
  • 2 prohibited practitioners/students
  • 876 for suitability/eligibility for registration (suitability includes competency in speaking or otherwise communicating in English)
   
   
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31 statutory offence complaints were made; 32 were closed

  • Over half of new matters related to title protection
  • The majority of the remaining matters related to advertising breaches

 

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Registration

Latest registration statistics released

The Board released its quarterly registration statistics for the period 1 October to 31 December 2018. Registrant numbers have increased from 4,897 as of the September report, to 4,993. Of these, 4,630 have general registration, four have general and non-practising registration, 298 have non-practising registration and there is one practitioner with limited registration.

For more information, including data on registration by division, age group, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page.

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National Scheme news

AHPRA’s 2017/18 annual report is online

The annual report for AHPRA and the National Boards for the year to 30 June 2018 is available to view online. The report provides a nationwide snapshot and highlights the multi-profession approach to risk-based regulation across the work of the National Scheme. The scheme’s mission is to make sure that Australians have access to a safe and competent registered health workforce.

Insights from the year include:

  • More practitioners: There were 23,800 more registered health practitioners, totalling 702,741 health practitioners across the 15 regulated professions.
  • Assuring individuals seeking registration are trained, qualified and competent: Over 740 accredited approved programs of study delivered by more than 330 education providers.
  • Growth in notifications: This year, AHPRA received more notifications than in any other year since the National Scheme began (7,276), an increase of 5.5% nationally (1.6% of all registered health practitioners). The top three notifier complaints related to clinical care (41.0%), medication issues (12.6%) and health impairment (8.9%).
  • Improved management of notifications about practitioners: While we received more notifications than ever before, we also closed more than ever before during the year (7,105). AHPRA is committed to improving the notification experience for both notifier and practitioner.
  • Dealing with statutory complaints: This year, we received 416 new offence complaints relating to title and practice protection and 1,043 complaints related to advertising.
  • Ensuring public safety through monitoring and compliance: 5,005 practitioners had their registration monitored in 2017/18. The majority of active monitoring cases related to additional requirements about suitability and eligibility for registration.
  • Prosecutions to protect the public: AHPRA completed 13 proceedings in the magistrates’ and local courts. All prosecution resulted in findings of guilt.

To view and download the 2017/18 annual report, visit the AHPRA website.

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Chinese Medicine Board supports more public information on the national register

Changes to the online national register of practitioners will make it easier to access public information about health practitioners across Australia.

The public register has accurate, up-to-date information about the registration status of all registered health practitioners in Australia including Chinese medicine practitioners. As decisions are made about a practitioner’s registration renewal or disciplinary proceedings, the register is updated to inform the public about the status of individual practitioners and any restrictions placed upon their practice.

Along with other National Boards, the Board has decided to introduce links to public tribunal decisions when serious allegations have been proven, in the interests of transparency and on the recommendation of the Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia.

No information about the notifications received by the National Boards and AHPRA will be published. The change is simply helping to make already publicly available information easier to find.

Further information is available on the Board’s website.

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Proposed changes to practitioners’ names published on the national register

Governments recently consulted on possible changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law), one of which would allow AHPRA and the National Boards to publish the names that registered health practitioners use in practice and not just their legal name. This has particular relevance for Chinese medicine. The online national register of practitioners is a vital part of Australia’s system of regulating health practitioners to support patient safety.

The public and employers can look up the names of all health practitioners who are registered to practise, as well as information about any limits or restrictions placed on the way an individual practitioner is allowed to practise.

The public register must remain an authoritative and trusted source of information about health practitioners. Consumers rely on it for accurate, up-to-date information to inform their healthcare decision-making and employers rely on it to validate their employees’ registration status.

Some health practitioners practise their profession using a name that is different from their legally recognised name published on the register (an alias). AHPRA has asked governments to consider changes to the National Law that would enable registered health practitioners to nominate one or more aliases to be recorded on the public register.

AHPRA believes that recording additional names (or aliases) on the register will help to inform and protect the public by making it easier to identify a registered practitioner.

AHPRA and the National Boards will keep practitioners and the public informed of any changes to the law and reporting requirements. For more information, read the media release on AHPRA’s website.

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AHPRA and National Boards welcome release of the Accreditation Systems Review final report

AHPRA and the National Boards have welcomed the publication of the Independent Accreditation Systems Review final report.

The Independent Accreditation Systems Review’s (the Review) final report makes significant, far-reaching recommendations to reform the accreditation system for regulated health professions in Australia. It proposes recommendations which range from relatively uncontentious and which the National Scheme bodies generally support, to those which are significantly more complex and contentious.

Health Ministers commissioned the Review following a review of the National Scheme as a whole.

For more information read the statement on the AHPRA website.

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Selectively editing reviews or testimonials may break the law

AHPRA has issued more guidance for advertisers to make it clearer that selectively editing reviews is not acceptable.

Under the National Law, testimonials about clinical care are not permitted, but reviews about non-clinical aspects of care are allowed.

In a recent case, an advertiser removed all negative comments from patients’ reviews. This selective editing changed the meaning of the reviews and had the potential to mislead the public. AHPRA’s new guidance makes it clear this is not acceptable and outlines the rules about editing or moderating reviews. It is misleading to:

  • edit a review that is negative to make it positive, as this falsely presents the feedback
  • edit a review that has a mix of negative and positive comments so that the published review only has positive comments, as this falsely implies that the reviewer only had positive feedback, or
  • edit a review so that it no longer accurately reflects all the reviewer’s feedback and presents an inaccurate or false impression of the reviewer’s views.

Reviews influence consumers’ healthcare choices so advertisers must make sure reviews are genuine and not misleading.

The way advertisers moderate and publish reviews must comply with the National Law and the Australian Consumer Law.

The updated testimonial tool is available in the Advertising resources section on the AHPRA website.

For more information, visit the Advertising resources page on the AHPRA website.

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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: Distinguished Prof. Charlie C. Xue, Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 12/02/2019