Annual report reveals how the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia worked to protect the public in 2016/17

15 Nov 2017

The Annual Report for AHPRA and the National Boards for the year to 30 June 2017 is now available to view online.

Over the past 12 months, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has consulted with the nurses, midwives and the public on revised codes of conduct and launched a national support service for nurses and midwives. These are just two of the many works initiated by the NMBA in 2016/17, according to information published today by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in its annual report.

The NMBA works in partnership with AHPRA to regulate nurses and midwives across Australia under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). The 2016/17 annual report produced by AHPRA, the NMBA and the other national health practitioner boards is a comprehensive record of the National Scheme for the 12 months ending 30 June 2016.

‘The launch of a national health support service for nurses, midwives and nursing and midwifery students is an important step in ensuring the public has access to safe and competent healthcare,’ said Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN, Chair of the NMBA. ‘It is important that those who care for the community prioritise their own well-being without fear of stigma.’

The service, which was commissioned by the NMBA, includes a 24-hour confidential telephone service and a website featuring up-to-date advice and referral resources.

Other priorities for the year included stakeholder collaboration and public consultation. Said Associate Professor Cusack RN: ‘In January, we opened public consultation on the revised Code of conduct for nurses and Code of conduct for midwives, and we received over 3,000 responses. This feedback was incorporated into the final codes, which will take effect on 1 March 2018.’

The NMBA also took a proactive role in keeping nurses and midwives informed and up to date with the launch of a new monthly e-newsletter in February 2017. The Board also sought to raise awareness of changes to standards, codes and guidelines.

‘We held information forums nationally, to engage with the professions in person and increase understanding of nurses’ and midwives’ professional obligations,’ said Associate Professor Cusack RN. In all, forums were offered at 31 venues, with over 90 other venues joining via video conference.

A snapshot of the professions in 2016/17:

  • Increased registration year on year: Nurses comprised 56.9% of all health practitioners registered in Australia, and the registrant base continues to gradually grow (to 386,629 registered nurses1; up from 376,086 in 2015/16).
  • The dual-registered contingent ‘nurse and midwife’ decreased by 2.6% (from 29,699 to 28,928), while the number of midwife-only registrants increased by 12.2% (from 4,122 to 4,624 midwives).
  • Students on the register: As at 30 June 2017, there were 92,145 registered nursing students (up 2.8% from last year), and 3,985 registered midwifery students (up 0.9% from last year).
  • Complaints received about nurses and midwives: There were 1.568 notifications (complaints or concerns) lodged with AHPRA about nurses 2016/17; 0.6% of nurses had complaints made about them. There were 75 notifications lodged with AHPRA about midwives; 0.3% of midwives had complaints made about them.
  • Of the 1,473 matters closed about nurses in 2016/17: 22.7% resulted in the Board accepting an undertaking or conditions being imposed on a nurse’s registration; 16.4% resulted in a caution or reprimand; 1.6% resulted in cancellation or suspension of registration, and 57% resulted in no further action being taken.
  • Of the 86 matters closed about midwives in 2016/17: 22.1% resulted in the Board accepting an undertaking or conditions being imposed on a midwife’s registration; 26.7% resulted in a caution or reprimand; 1.2% resulted in cancellation or suspension of registration, and 47.7% resulted in no further action being taken.
  • Statutory offence complaints: There was an increase in statutory offence complaints made about nurses (76, up from 54 in 2015/16) and a decrease in complaints about midwives (eight; down from 33 in 2016/.17). The majority of complaints for both professions related to title protection.
  • Immediate action was taken 157 times to restrict or suspend the registration of nurses (155 times) and midwives (twice) as an interim measure to protect the public while notifications were being investigated.
  • Active monitoring: 1,233 nurses and 52 midwives were monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year; as at 30 June 2017 there were 827 active monitoring cases for nursing and 133 active monitoring cases for midwifery in relation to suitability/eligibility for registration.

The 2016/17 annual report provides a nationwide snapshot of the work of AHPRA and the National Boards and highlights a multi-profession approach to risk-based regulation, with a clear focus on ensuring that the public are protected.

‘There are now almost 680,000 registered health practitioners across Australia,’ said AHPRA CEO Mr Martin Fletcher. ‘This Annual Report highlights our strong and shared commitment with the Board to ensure the public has access to a competent, qualified registered health workforce and to take decisive action when required to keep the community safe.’

To view the 2016/17 annual report, along with supplementary tables that segment data across categories such as registration, notifications, statutory offences, tribunals and appeals, and monitoring and compliance, see Annual Report microsite.

In the coming weeks, AHPRA and the National Boards will also publish summaries of our work regulating health practitioners in each of the 14 registered health professions. Jurisdictional reports, which present data on registered health practitioners in each state and territory will be published in December.

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Page reviewed 15/11/2017