HEALTH Alert: Improving controls on registered health practitioners in NSW

4 December 2014


Amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation Legislation (Adoption of National Law) Act 2009 (NSW) received royal assent on 28 November 2014.

In her second reading speech, the Minister for Health and Medical Research, Mrs Skinner, said the amendments were intended to improve regulatory processes in three respects:

  • To enable greater oversight of impaired practitioners;
  • To ensure practitioners who are deregistered after disciplinary proceedings cannot re-register in other health services without adequate oversight; and
  • To improve complaints processes so that complainants will be able to obtain information about the outcome of their complaints against practitioners/students.

The key changes arising from the amendments are:

    (a) A Council for a profession must notify a complainant of certain outcomes and actions taken regarding the subject health practitioner or student;

    (b) The Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) can make prohibition orders against former registered practitioners;

    (c) A person who has been de-registered as a practitioner cannot apply for re-registration unless the Tribunal makes a re-instatement order;

    (d) Where a Council imposes/alters a condition on a practitioner because of impairment and that condition is contravened, the matter will be referred to the Health Care Complaints Commission to be dealt with as a complaint against the practitioner.¬† Any such condition is then a ‘critical impairment condition’. This aligns with a duty on Councils and the Commission to refer any complaint to the Tribunal if the complaint (if substantiated) would provide grounds for suspension or cancellation of the practitioner registration.

    (e) A Council for a profession must notify the employer or accreditor if it imposes/alters/removes conditions on a practitioner’s registration concerning health, conduct or performance of the practitioner;

    (f) The Health Services Act 1997 (NSW) and the Private Health Facilities Act 2007 (NSW) are amended so that public health organisations and licensees of private health facilities can exchange ‘appointment¬† information’ about practitioners where the disclosing organisation:

        • Reasonably believes the practitioner practices at the receiving organisation; and
        • Reasonably considers disclosure is necessary because it raises serious concerns about safety of patients.

          ‘Appointment information’ is prescribed as:

            • If the practitioner practices or formerly practiced at the disclosing organisation; and
            • The information relates to variation, suspension or termination by the disclosing organisation of clinical privileges of the practitioner.

              Amendments referred to at (c) above (and related amendments) commenced on the day of assent (28 November 2014).  The remainder will commence on a day/s yet to be proclaimed.

              Written by:
              Lucinda Smith | Partner | +61 2 9020 5748 |
              Ruth Hood | Senior Associate | +61 2 8248 3459 |