RACS has contributed with a previous submission to its predecessor 2018 public consultation on the Regulation of Australia’s health professions: Keeping the National Law up to date and fit for purpose.  

The 2021 paper has been an exercise in determining if the proposed amendments correspond with the advice given by RACS to NRAS back in 2018. It does and RACS supports the amendments in principle, but questions Part 7: Delegation of the Ministerial Council’s power to approve registration standards to an entity with respect to registration standards. It is unclear as to what the parameters are and who this ‘entity’ is. There also remain unresolved issues that NRAS needs to further clarify. There are three outstanding fundamental issues which have not been completely resolved from our 2018 submission. They are: 

  1. The importance of judicial fairness for medical practitioner which goes hand in hand with public safety
  2. Defining a ‘serious risk’, what are the parameters?
  3. Part 8 of the National Law is not adopted across all states (NSW and Qld differ)

As stipulated in AHPRA & National Boards’ Regulatory Guide June 2020-

“…the jurisdictions of NSW and Queensland have declared that they are not participating in the health, performance and conduct process provided by Part 8, Divisions 2–12 of the National Law. By making this declaration and amending the National Law, each of those jurisdictions is known as a 'co-regulatory jurisdiction'  

Part 8 of the National Law sets out the processes for notification and procedures relevant to investigating a registered health practitioner and any relevant actions required. Actions may be immediate, direct, dependent upon a health and performance assessment with reference to a health or professional performance and standards panel or a responsible tribunal. Onus appears to fall upon the shoulder of the National Boards and their use of discretionary powers.

NSW’s decision not to adopt Part 8 means that health professional councils and the Health Care Complaints Commission would have a greater influence. This is also the case with Queensland and matters that relate to professional misconduct which are referred to their Office of the Health Ombudsman. How these amendments will impact on the utility of certain infrastructures has not been clearly outlined or identified in the Terms of References to this 2021 consultation. This is clearly a perennial issue stemming from our history of Federation.  

Our submission provides a detailed response to each of the amendment recommendations.