Interaction HCC and AHPRA

INTERACTION BETWEEN HEALTH COMPLAINTS COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL BOARDS AND AHPRA  

 Introduction 

Tasmania became a participant in the national scheme for the registration and accreditation of health professionals on 1 July 2010.

The national scheme is created by the National Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law), which is to be found in the Schedule to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 of Queensland (PDF, 1.31MB, New WIndow).  The National Law was adopted as a law of Tasmania by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Tasmania) Act 2010.  The commencement of this Act on 1 July 2010 resulted in Tasmania joining the national scheme.

National Boards and AHPRA  

 The National Law has created fourteen National Boards, to cover the following professions – 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
  • Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
  • Chiropractic Board of Australia
  • Dental Board of Australia (dealing with dentists, dental therapists, dental hygienists, oral health therapists and dental prosthetists)
  • Medical Board of Australia
  • Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
  • Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  • Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
  • Optometry Board of Australia
  • Osteopathy Board of Australia
  • Pharmacy Board of Australia
  • Physiotherapy Board of Australia
  • Podiatry Board of Australia
  • Psychology Board of Australia

The adoption of the National Law was accompanied by the abolition of the eleven State health registration boards which covered these professions in Tasmania prior to 1 July 2010.  Each of the Acts by which those boards had been established has been repealed.

The National Boards created by the National Law receive administrative support from another body created by the same law – the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The relationship between the Boards, AHPRA and the HCC 

The relationship between the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC) and the National Boards (and consequently between the HCC and AHPRA) is governed both by the National Law and by the Health Complaints Act 1995.
In essence, this is as follows – 
 

  • The Health Complaints Act and the National Law both use the word "complaint" to refer to a complaint made to a "health complaints entity", such as the HCC, and the word "notification" to refer to a matter raised with a National Board by way of mandatory or voluntary notification.    
  • If the HCC receives a complaint about a health practitioner, the HCC must notify the National Board (through AHPRA) of this as soon as practicable, and must give the Board a copy of the complaint, and other information. 
  • If a National Board receives a notification which would also provide a ground for a complaint to the HCC, the Board (through AHPRA) must notify the HCC of this as soon as practicable, and must give the HCC a copy of the notification, and other information. 
  • Consultation then takes place between the National Board/AHPRA and the HCC to see if agreement can be reached as to whether the notification or complaint should be dealt with by the Board or by the HCC. 
  • If agreement cannot be reached, s 150(4) of the National Law requires that "the most serious action proposed by either must be taken". 

(A comparable, but different process would arise under the Health Complaints Act if the matter involved a complaint received by the HCC against a person registered under the Medical Radiation Science Professionals Registration Act, or involved a grievance received by the Medical Radiation Science Professionals Registration Board under that Act.) The principle sections of the National Law which control the relationship between the Boards, AHPRA and the HCC are ss 149 and 150.

MOU

As indicated, the HCC is a "health complaints entity" within the terms of the National Law.  A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in October 2010 between the health complaints entities (other than NSW) and AHPRA.  The purpose of the MOU is to facilitate interaction between the health complaints entities and AHPRA, particularly in relation to the operation of ss 149 and 150 of the National Law.

 

National Health Practitioner Ombudsman & Privacy Commissioner

AHPRA and the National Boards do not fall within the jurisdiction of any previously existing ombudsman or privacy commissioner. For this reason, the National Law established the Office of the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and the Office of the National Health Privacy Commissioner. The current NHP Ombudsman and NHP Privacy Commissioner is Dr Diane Sisely. 

The NHP Ombudsman receives complaints about administrative action taken by a national agency under the national scheme, and the NHP Privacy Commissioner receives complaints about the manner in which personal information has been handled by a national agency under the national scheme.

The national agencies which are subject to the jurisdiction of the NHP Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner are -

  • AHPRA
  • the National Boards
  • AHPRA's Agency Management Committee
  • the Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council.

Click here to access the website address of the NHP Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner.