24 Jul 2017
A Victorian woman has pleaded guilty to claiming to be a registered midwife.
The matter was heard at the Frankston Magistrates' Court (the court) on 19 June 2017. The individual, who is a former midwife, pleaded and was found guilty of using the title 'midwife' in circumstances that indicated or could reasonably indicate she was authorised and/or qualified to practise as a midwife when she was no longer registered as such.
The charges were brought by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) on behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), after concerns were raised that the individual had represented herself as a midwife to four emergency health professionals who were assisting a mother and her newborn infant following a problematic homebirth.
The individual was found guilty of using the title ‘midwife’ when referring to herself to two Advanced Life Support paramedics, a Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance paramedic and a midwife. The court commented on the seriousness of the claims in light of the emergency context and the likelihood that the emergency staff would have placed weight on the medical information she provided in order to treat the mother and newborn, because of those claims.
In sentencing, it was noted that the offending was in the mid-range of seriousness; despite the individual having midwifery qualifications, the birthing mother’s awareness of the fact the individual was not entitled to practise and that the offending did not take place over a long period of time but on a single day.
The court imposed a two year good behaviour bond and ordered the individual to pay AHPRA’s legal costs of approximately $17,000. If the bond is breached, the individual will need to attend the court for further sentencing. The individual was granted a non-conviction and is therefore not named.
‘The NMBA registers nurses and midwives across Australia. The point here is that an individual must be registered as a ‘nurse’ and/or a ‘midwife’ to be able to use these protected titles. You cannot just call yourself a nurse or midwife when you are not registered. Having previous experience or training or being registered before is just not good enough. Patients expect more and so do we,’ Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, RN, Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) said.
‘This case is an important reminder that all registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives appear on the online Register of Practitioners, which is a searchable online list of practitioners the public can check. If a nurse or midwife does not appear on the register, they are not registered to practise in Australia,’ said Dr Cusack.
If anyone has a concern about their registered health practitioner, or thinks someone is pretending to be a registered health practitioner, we urge them to contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.
AHPRA works in partnership with 14 National Boards, including the NMBA, who are responsible for regulating registered health practitioners, protecting the public, and setting the standards and policies that all registered health practitioners must meet.
Practitioners are required to renew their registration each year to make sure they are suitably trained and qualified to practice their profession in Australia. When a nurse or midwife renews their registration they make declarations which state they meet registration requirements which the Board sets to make sure the public are safe.
It is a serious matter if anyone who is not a registered health practitioner claims to be a registered health practitioner or uses titles that are protected under the National Law (e.g. ‘psychologist', ‘medical practitioner', ‘nurse’ etc.). Both are offences and may be prosecuted by AHPRA.
AHPRA reminds consumers that it is important that they do not receive care from unregistered individuals. Anyone receiving treatment from an unregistered person is a cause for concern and we want to hear from them. Remember to check the Register of practitioners or you can raise a concern by calling 1300 419 495.