Medical Board of Australia Newsletter April 2016 – Improving the Notification Process?

Medical Board of Australia Newsletter April 2016 – Improving the Notification Process?

April 28, 2016

I have written previously about the problems forensic psychiatrists have had with vexatious notifications to the Medical Board. Two of our colleagues had had four notifications each, three of them had been shown to have no merit but it appeared that four notifications required action and so the two psychiatrist had a practice visit from two other psychiatrist over a period of a day. I thought this was questionable with regard to ethical practice in particular the psychiatrist roared through all the medical records not just those to do with the notifications and apparently sat in on one or two interviews.

Complaints were made to the Medical Board of Victoria by our representatives and as you will see there has been dialogue with the AMA. Some information about this was provided in the April newsletter of the Medical Board of Australia. (See below)

Improving the notification process

Continuing our work on a fair and timely process

Senior leaders from the Board, AHPRA and the AMA met in February 2016 to look at ways in which doctors’ experience can be improved when a notification is made about them. This was the second workshop with the AMA about this. The first workshop was held 12 months ago.

There was positive feedback about changes we have made in the last 12 months to improve the experience of doctors involved in the regulatory process. Improvements include:

  • significantly reduced time frames for assessing matters. This means that low risk notifications can be resolved and high risk notifications can be investigated more quickly
  • development of a decision matrix with the health complaints entities (HCEs) we work with in each state and territory to better steer complaints and notifications to the most appropriate pathway
  • improved communication with practitioners. We have reviewed and revised the templates we use as the starting point for our correspondence with doctors and we are now providing more information to practitioners, particularly when we expect our inquiries to take longer than first thought, and
  • senior staff and Board members are reviewing notifications at specific times, to make sure regulatory work is on track.

The workshop also explored what we are doing to support good regulatory decision-making including:

  • establishing a Risk-based Regulation Unit in AHPRA, to analyse our data to help identify risk of harm. As this work progresses, we will be publishing the results of our analysis to help inform and educate practitioners
  • setting up a National Restrictions Library. This is a collection of conditions and other restrictions that decision-makers can use to ensure that any restrictions they impose on practitioners’ registration to manage risks to patients, are consistent, enforceable and able to be monitored, and
  • asking notifiers what they are looking for from the regulatory process and providing more information up front about what it can achieve. This helps to better align notifier expectations with possible outcomes. As well, AHPRA is usually providing practitioners with all the information provided by the notifier, but specifying within this the issues that the Board is investigating.

The Board and AHPRA agreed to explore how we can most usefully ask practitioners for feedback about their experience of the regulatory process when a notification has been made about them, so we can improve our processes.

There was also good discussion about how the experience of the National Scheme1 can better support the profession to deal with practitioners whose performance is not satisfactory.

The Board and AHPRA appreciate the AMA’s commitment to continuing to work constructively with us to improve the process for practitioners, in a fair way, with clear information.

The AMA has also published information about the workshop at A refined way to complain.

For more information about notifications, AHPRA has published guides for practitioners on the notifications process (performance assessments).



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