April 2021

Contents


Message from the Chair

I’d like to welcome new nursing and midwifery students to our newsletter – you are an important and valued part of the professions and we are pleased to have you join us. 

With the COVID-19 vaccination program underway in Australia and around the world, we have developed resources to help guide professional practice in this area and answer any questions you may have. Please see further information in this edition. 

The registration renewal period for nurses and midwives will open this month – please check that you can log in to online services before renewal opens – this might save you a call to Ahpra during the busy renewal period. 

Read on to find out what you need to know about renewal this year. 

Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey, registered nurse and midwife
Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Veronica Casey 

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NMBA news

Interview with NMBA Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM

We chat to new the new NMBA Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, about her experiences on the Board and her priorities as Chair. 

What initially brought you onto the NMBA? What do you enjoy most about the role of Board member (and now Chair)?

When I was younger as a registered nurse and a midwife, I didn’t fully understand regulation and I thought if I don’t participate in it, how am I going to learn more about it – so I got involved.

It’s been an honour to be on the NMBA and be selected as the Queensland practitioner member. What I love about being on the NMBA is the consistent focus on protection of the public through quality and safety. Being on the Board is being part of a leadership team and ensuring we stay accountable to the purpose of the legislation, but also to look to the future and to how we can contribute to the professions and the broader health system. We continue to improve with the latest research and evidence. We want to set a platform for the future.

What do you think would surprise people about the role of a Board member?

I think it might surprise some people to see the value and importance that the NMBA places in its consultations and stakeholder engagement, with nurses and midwives and with the wider community. It’s about listening. It’s not a one-way process – regulation is all about working with the professions and the community.

What do you think the biggest focus will be for the NMBA over the next three years?

In terms of challenges and the NMBA’s focus for the next few years – our core mission will always be safety and quality in nursing and midwifery practice. But we also need to deep dive into some of the workforce issues. How we prepare the workforce, retain the workforce, help get people back on the register to rejoin the workforce. It may challenge us to think about flexibility in processes – not lowering standards, but how to be an agile regulator. It’s also so important that we keep improving on cultural safety as a regulator and as professionals.

What are your reflections on the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife last year and what message would you have for nurses and midwives?

Nurses and midwives are two of the most trusted professions. At the start of last year, we were thinking about how to celebrate that and since then we’ve gone on a journey that no one could have imagined. Nurses and midwives have upskilled, innovated, and put their patients and community first, some at great personal cost. They’ve used best evidence, been flexible and maintained their standards of practice. They’ve done it with such grace, dignity, competence and professionalism. No matter what role they’re in – in health services, universities, government – people have worked collectively.

I want to humbly thank and acknowledge nurses and midwives and ask them to remember to make it a priority to care for themselves and their families and continue the excellence in their practice.  

Revised Nurse practitioner standards for practice are in effect

The revised Nurse practitioner standards for practice (revised standards) took effect on 1 March 2021. Visit the Professional standards section of the NMBA website to get to know the revised standards. 

What’s changed in the revised standards?

Recent developments in the theory and practice of NPs, including the key concepts and definitions, have been incorporated into the revised standards.

The revised standards also include culturally safe and respectful practice. The revised standards consider the impacts the standards could have on people’s health and safety, particularly vulnerable members of the community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The presentation of the revised standards has been improved and aligns with the presentation of the Registered nurse standards for practice and the Midwife standards for practice.

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Celebrating four years of national health support for nurses and midwives

Nurses, midwives and students have had access to free nation-wide health support for the past four years through Nurse & Midwife Support. 

Launched in March 2017, Nurse & Midwife Support offers 24/7 phone and online health support, delivered for and by nurses and midwives. It also provides support for employers of nurses and midwives. We would like to acknowledge and thank the Nurse & Midwife Support team for their outstanding service to the nursing and midwifery professions – in times of most need. 

To find out more about the service, visit www.nmsupport.org.au 

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Updates from recent NMBA meetings

At its most recent meetings the NMBA:

  • Held its planning day to inform the development of the NMBA’s regulatory plan for the next three to five years – with a focus on further improving the NMBA’s engagement strategies; and together with key stakeholders, further strategies to support culturally safe nursing and midwifery practice.
  • Recognised the delivery of the first objective structured clinical exam for internationally qualified registered nurses, with further exams scheduled in April and June.                          

Each month the NMBA makes decisions on approved programs of study leading to registration and endorsement. To see the up-to-date, searchable list of approved programs, please visit the Approved programs of study section of the NMBA website.

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Registration

Are you ready to renew? 

Check your login and contact details

Registration renewal for nurses and midwives will open in April. Before renewal opens, please make sure you can log in to online services and that your contact details are up to date. 

To check your login and update your contact details, use the online services on the Ahpra website:

  1. go to Login at the top right of the home page 
  2. enter your user ID, password and date of birth to log in, and
  3. follow the prompts to update your contact details.

If you do not have your user ID, complete an online web enquiry form and select the category Online Services – Practitioner. Ahpra will get back to you.

If you’ve forgotten your password it can be updated using the reset your password function. You must have previously had an email address registered with us to be able to use this function.

Ahpra will email you in April to let you know that renewal is open. 

Be ready for new renewal questions about exposure-prone procedures

From 2021, when you renew your registration you’ll be asked a question about whether you perform exposure-prone procedures (EPPs) and, if so, about complying with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) relevant guidelines (Australian national guidelines for the management of healthcare workers living with blood borne viruses and healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses).  

The renewal application form will include relevant definitions, information and links to resources to help you answer accurately. 

More information, including guidance on which procedures are classified as EPPs, is available on the Commonwealth Department of Health website. You can also view the NMBA’s Guidelines: Registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses on the NMBA website

What does it mean when I’m asked if my right to practise has been withdrawn or restricted? 

This question only applies to a small number of nurses and midwives, who are given ‘rights’ to work at hospitals or other facilities, such as private practice nurse practitioners or midwives who have admitting rights. 

This question does not require you to declare if your employment has been terminated, suspended or you are being performance managed. 

Only nurses and midwives in private practice whose right to practise has been withdrawn or restricted, based on their conduct, professional performance or health, need to declare this information.

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Students and graduates

First-time renewing? Find out what you need to know

If you were granted registration in the last 12 months and this is your first time renewing, the NMBA has all the information you need online. Here we answer a couple of common questions.

What if I got my registration less than a year ago, do I still have to renew?

Registration for nurses and midwives is renewed annually by 31 May, regardless of how long you were registered for during the previous 12 months.

If you are a graduate who registered within two months before the 31 May annual renewal date you are registered to practise until 31 May of the following year. Check the national register of practitioners if you are not sure when your registration is due for renewal.

How much CPD do I have to do? 

When you renew your general registration, you are asked to declare if you have met the CPD registration standard in the previous registration period. The studies which qualified you for registration as a nurse or a midwife do not count as CPD. You need to do CPD even if you haven’t been practising as a nurse or midwife. 

If you have been registered less than a year, the CPD hours you are required to do will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, as below:

  • registered for 0-3 months ≥ 5 hours CPD required
  • registered for >3-6 months ≥ 10 hours CPD required
  • registered for >6-9 months ≥ 15 hours CPD required
  • registered for > 9-12 months ≥ 20 hours CPD required.

For more tips, visit the NMBA’s First-time renewing page.

What if I can’t meet my CPD hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

The NMBA is aware that there are many CPD activities that are COVID-safe options and many CPD programs and providers have now adapted their programs to be COVID-safe. We encourage you to continue to do CPD that is relevant to your scope of practice and your current work environment. The following learning opportunities may also contribute to CPD hours:

  • COVID-19 in-services
  • reading and reflecting on COVID-19 journal articles, and
  • COVID-19 infection control training – online training modules (including Australian Government Department of Health). 

We understand that some nurse and midwives may still have trouble meeting the CPD requirements, due to the pandemic. You should answer all renewal questions honestly and accurately. The NMBA will not take action if you declare that you could not meet your required CPD hours for the 2020-21 registration period.

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Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies

Enrolled nurse suspended by tribunal for viewing patient records without authorisation

An enrolled nurse who viewed patient records without any clinical justification or authorisation has had her registration suspended by a tribunal.

For more information, read the news item

Former enrolled nurse fined after Ahpra prosecution

A former enrolled nurse has been fined in a Victorian court for holding herself out as registered and administering cosmetic injectables while she was suspended, following a charge filed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).

For more information, read the news item

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National Scheme news

Registered practitioners and students: What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccination 

The National Boards and Ahpra have published a joint statement to help registered health practitioners and students understand what’s expected of them in giving, receiving and advising on and sharing information about COVID-19 vaccination.

Key points

Registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, and we commend them for this sustained public health response. As the national vaccination program gets underway, registered health practitioners and students remain critical to this success by: 

  • being vaccinated against COVID-19 unless medically contraindicated
  • being appropriately qualified and trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines if authorised, and
  • providing accurate information and advice about COVID-19 vaccination including in social media and advertising.

The statement should be read in conjunction with the standards, codes, guidelines, position statements and other guidance. The Codes of conduct for nurses and midwives explain the public health obligations of registered health practitioners, including participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and meeting obligations on disease prevention. 

There is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional health practice, and any promotion of anti-vaccination claims, including on social media and in advertising, may result in regulatory action. See the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service for further advice.

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Ahpra’s new framework for dealing with vexatious notifications

What is known about vexatious complaints?

In 2017 Ahpra commissioned independent research that took the first international look at vexatious (unfounded) complaints. The report, Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints, found that vexatious complaints account for less than one per cent of notifications received, and that there is greater risk of people not reporting concerns than of people making truly vexatious complaints.

The report also noted that being on the receiving end of any notification is a distressing experience for any health practitioner. Regulators need to have good processes for dealing with unfounded complaints quickly and fairly.

Ahpra’s vexatious complaints framework

Following recommendations made in the report, Ahpra developed A framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications for staff and regulatory decision-makers. This will help us identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications. The framework outlines:

  • the principles and features, significant impacts and potential indicators of vexatious notifications
  • how to identify vexatious notifications, and
  • what to do where there is a concern that a notification is vexatious.

We understand that practitioners who feel that they may be the subject of a vexatious notification are more likely to experience stress and anxiety. Our staff are equipped to identify and support these practitioners and to implement management strategies set out in our framework when a concern about vexatiousness is raised with us.

Need more help or information? 

Our staff are here to help you before, during or after the notifications process. We encourage you to visit our General support services page where you can find the contact details for additional support services. You can also listen to Episode 1: Vexatious notifications, Taking care, Ahpra’s podcast and visit our Concerns about practitioners page for more information about notifications and links to the report and framework.

Consultation on revised regulatory principles

The National Boards and Ahpra are seeking feedback on revised regulatory principles for the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme). 

The regulatory principles encourage a responsive, risk-based approach to regulation across all professions within the National Scheme. They also acknowledge the importance of community confidence and working with the professions to achieve good outcomes. 

The draft revised regulatory principles reflect two recent policy directions issued by COAG Health Council which provide a clear mandate to the National Boards and Ahpra to prioritise public protection in the work of the National Scheme.

We want the public to have trust and confidence in regulated health practitioners and to know that their safety is at the heart of everything we do in the National Scheme. The revised principles reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective.

The consultation is open until 18 May 2021. Feedback is invited from practitioners, stakeholders and the community. 

Find out more about how to make a submission on the Consultations page on the Ahpra website.

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Keep in touch with the NMBA

  • Visit the NMBA website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 8/04/2021