Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Health workforce boosted in another challenging year

Health workforce boosted in another challenging year

22 Nov 2022

There are now more registered health practitioners in every state and territory according to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards 2021/22 Annual report. 

Key points
  • Ahpra and the National Boards have released their 2021/22 Annual report which tells the story of our progress and impact to support the health workforce over the past financial year.
  • There were 852,272 registered health practitioners across 16 regulated professions, an increase of 26,552 (3.2%) on last year.
  • This includes 20,781 health practitioners on the pandemic sub-register which offered a surge workforce for the health system response to COVID-19.
  • We revised our regulatory principles, piloted a new support service for notifiers, and updated our Code of conduct.

 

There were 852,272 registered health practitioners across 16 regulated professions at 30 June 2022. This included over 20,000 practitioners on the temporary pandemic sub-register which allowed eligible, recently retired health practitioners to help in response to COVID-19.

'The past year has seen our healthcare systems under exceptional pressure and supporting our health workforce is more important than ever. We have aimed to play our part fully to ensure all Australians have access to safe, professional and high-quality registered health practitioners,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.

There was a steady increase in notifications raising concerns about the conduct, performance or impairment of a registered health practitioners. However, over 60% of these notifications did not require regulatory action, with practitioners or their employers taking steps to resolve the issue. More than 70% of the notifications we closed were closed on average within six months.

'We recognise the significant stress for both practitioners and notifiers when a concern is raised with us. While there are significant challenges, we continue to focus on improving the timeliness of our regulatory processes, access to support for both practitioners and notifiers and improving our communication throughout,’ Mr Fletcher said.

Ahpra aims to be a flexible organisation, responding to changing phases of the pandemic, workforce needs, changing models of healthcare delivery and supporting health practitioners in their professional practice.

We updated the shared Code of conduct which sets out the expectations for 12 regulated professions

We revised our regulatory principles that underpin our decision making, making it clear that public protection is our paramount objective. We sought to better support notifiers and witnesses in sexual boundary cases by establishing the Notifier Support Service, staffed by social workers.

The community is at the heart of our work. We strengthened our Community Advisory Council to ensure a strong voice for the public in all our work.

‘My thanks to Ahpra staff, Board and Committee members and our partners for their work over the past year and their strong commitment to protecting and promoting patient safety across Australia,’ Mr Fletcher said.

Top 10 facts

  1. Ahpra received 85,052 new applications for registration, 44,098 applications were from new graduates, including nearly 24,340 nursing applications. Ahpra renewed the annual registration of 765,078 practitioners.
  2. The largest growth in registrants was paramedics (up 7.3%), followed by occupational therapy (up 7%). 1.2% of all registrants identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander across all registered health professions.
  3. 184,353 students were studying to be a registered health practitioner in more than 840 accredited and approved programs of study delivered by more than 130 education providers. These programs of study provide graduates with the qualification they need for registration.
  4. 10,803 notifications about 8,380 practitioners were received by Ahpra. This is 6.5% more than 2020/21. The overall percentage (1.6-1.7%) of health practitioners with a notification stayed around the same.
  5. Clinical care remains the top reason for a notification, followed by communication and medication issues.
  6. We received 925 notifications about lack of appropriate professional boundaries (63% increase). The increase can partly be attributed to new concern types relating to sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare, and expectations of practitioners to maintain respectful, professional practice.
  7. 187 matters about professional misconduct were determined by independent tribunals: 98.4% resulted in disciplinary action.
  8. Ahpra completed 11 prosecutions and 3 appeals in the courts: 10 resulted in findings of guilt against the defendant and 1 case was withdrawn. The 3 appeals upheld the initial findings of guilt.
  9. 2,568 practitioners were monitored by Ahpra to ensure health, performance and/or conduct requirements were being met. This 1.9% increase was in line with registration trends.
  10. National Boards continued to provide funding to several practitioner support services during the year including Dental Practitioner Support, Drs4Drs, Nurse and Midwife Support and Pharmacists’ Support Service.

To view and download the 2021/22 annual report, visit the Ahpra website.

Contact us

  • For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200. 
  • For registration enquiries, please phone 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 9285 3010 (overseas callers).
 
 
 
 
Page reviewed 22/11/2022