As we approach the holiday period, I would like to make some reflections on the important work of our nurses and midwives and recognise the sacrifices they continue to make to ensure safe and effective care for the public.
Not only do we feel the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year has also seen a number of catastrophic weather events, a sharp increase in the cost of living, and global workforce pressures resulting in higher rates of burn-out and stress. Despite all this, nurses and midwives continue to show up day in and day out to provide the high standard of care we all expect in Australia.
The NMBA understands that even during this end-of-year period, many of you work through the holiday season to meet Australians’ healthcare needs. We understand the impact this may have not only on you, but your family and friends and we thank you for all that you do at this time.
If you are feeling the effects of the past year, are uncertain or burnt out please know you are not alone, and we encourage you to reach out to Nurse & Midwife Support. This 24/7 free service is run by nurses and midwives to support nurses, midwives, students, educators, and concerned family and friends.
I also apologise for recent audit concerns and those that the audit may have affected. We have since withdrawn the need to provide evidence of CPD for the previous year and accept the substantial amount of learning the COVID-19 pandemic has provided.
I sincerely thank you for your resilience over the past year and look forward to what the new year brings.
Best wishes and happy holidays,
Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey
Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
The NMBA would like to recognise the contribution of Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain and thank her for her service to the board. As a Palawa woman of the Trawlwoolway clan (Tasmania), registered midwife and public health researcher, Professor Chamberlain, or Cath as she prefers, gave insight into her experiences on the board and let us know which initiatives she’s most excited about.
I was encouraged to apply by peers and saw the opportunity to contribute at a system level to improving nursing and midwifery care.
Witnessing the historic apology of the nursing profession to CATSINAM, their gracious response and endorsement of the Cultural Safety training, and the ‘Growin em an Keepin em’ report.
More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people taking up nursing and midwifery as an exciting and rewarding professions; and the two-way growth that will come from that. Both for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives and for the professions more broadly. Connectedness and caring for each other is central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and our nation and the world desperately needs a lot more connectedness and caring.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Board and have been very impressed by the integrity, rigour, support systems and ethical processes, and the genuine commitment of the hard-working team. I’m struggling to think of anything except perhaps streamlining the board application process and keeping in contact with people while that is ongoing. I had assumed my application had been unsuccessful and taken on other commitments by the time I found out I was successful!
I’ve recently taken on a role as Head of the Indigenous Health Equity Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Heath, and we are launching the Onemda Centre for Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing in 2023, of which I am Director – we want to support lots more students achieve their aspirations working with communities.
We have also received some large research grants to develop infrastructure for health services to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents transform cycles of intergenerational trauma. This is called Healing the Past, Nurturing the Future and Replanting the Birthing Trees.
I’ve also accepted a role as Editor in Chief of the First community-controlled journal – First Nations Health and Wellbeing – Lowitja Journal. This should be live for author submissions soon, with a formal launch in 2023.
And I have a lot of research responsibilities with the NHMRC, Department of Health (Victorian and Commonwealth), and NACCHO. So yes – it’s busy!
It’s an exciting time for us though – a bit like a renaissance after the ‘dark ages’ of the past 200 years. All of us need to be using whatever capacities we have in this time of fresh opportunities and ‘enlightenment’ with regard to our history and culture, to ensure ALL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities live happy long lives, once again, in the abundant land we now share.
My two gorgeous sons have also now finished school, so I have more time to focus on work for a bit – I’m hoping I get a chance to spend more time with grandkids one day though.
I just wish I could magically make the days longer as I’d love to stay on the Board. I’m hoping if I ever make it to formal ‘retirement’ I might be able to do something like this again.
Image 1: Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain
Last week was nurse practitioner (NP) week and the NMBA acknowledges the incredible and complex role that NPs play in an ever evolving healthcare space. Head over to the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners to learn more about what makes an NP different, and why this is essential to the future of healthcare in Australia.
Notification Navigator is Nurse & Midwife Support’s free support service for nurses and midwives who are the subject of a notification.
The service provides nurses and midwives with accessible, professional, confidential, compassionate and individualised assistance throughout the notification process. You will be cared for by an experienced nurse and midwife counsellor.
Notification Navigator was built for nurses and midwives dealing with a notification. As an opt-in service, if you’re subject to notification, you can get need support from someone who understands your situation.
Interested in speaking with a Notification Navigator? Call 1800 667 877 or email to access support.
With recent attention on the shortages of health practitioners, the NMBA has approved a project to review the midwifery workforce. The project will deliver a comprehensive report on the midwifery workforce in Australia and will include broad stakeholder consultation.
We have also begun a project to improve our understanding of the role, scope, education and context of practice of maternal child and family health (MCFH) practitioners in Australia, and the intersection between RNs and midwives without a nursing qualification practising in this area.
After two years of postponements, the NMBA hosted its long-awaited National Conference in Melbourne on 19–20 October. We welcomed members from its state and territory boards, together with representatives from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), to explore the theme of ‘aspire, innovate and evolve’ while looking to the future of regulation for nursing and midwifery.
Image 2: The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia at the National Conference 2022Image 3: NMBA National Conference 2022 summary
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 on our website.
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The NMBA works to ensure that Australia’s nurses and midwives are suitably trained, qualified and safe to practise. Public safety and maintaining the public’s trust in the professions is our priority.
One of the ways we keep the public safe is by investigating mandatory notifications which are made to us by registered health practitioners, their employers, and education providers. It’s important for nurses and midwives, as well as their employers and educators, to know when they must make a mandatory notification. Even if a colleague, employee or student resigns and is no longer working with you, or has representatives that suggest ‘non-disparaging’ clauses in the ‘resignation’ agreements prevent you making a mandatory notification, your legal obligations still apply.
There are four concerns that may trigger a mandatory notification, depending on the risk of harm to the public:
The table below shows the types of concerns that need to be reported, and the different reporting thresholds for different groups. It gives page numbers for further information in the guidelines Mandatory notifications about registered health practitioners. This document describes who must make a mandatory notification, how to do it and how notifiers are legally protected when doing so.
We recognise that deciding whether to make a mandatory notification can be a difficult decision and requires a balanced judgement which should holistically consider relevant risk factors.
A mandatory notification does not mean a practitioner will lose their registration or career. It’s an important way we manage risk and support practitioners to practise safely. For example, in the case of a health impairment, a mandatory notification can often trigger a practitioner to seek professional support and get the help they need to get healthy and continue practising safely.
The NMBA welcomes the graduating class of 2022 to the nursing and midwifery professions. As you take your first step into your new career as a nurse and/or midwife we want to ensure you have everything you need to get registered in Australia.
If you applied before you finished your studies, we have already started assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results. If you haven’t applied yet, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.
Once we’ve received your graduate results from your education provider and the NMBA is satisfied that you have met all the requirements for registration, we will finalise your application.
When you are registered, we will publish your name to the Register of Nurses and/or Register of Midwives, and you can start working as a nurse or midwife, or both!
Australia’s health practitioner regulator is putting sections of the wellness industry on notice over concerns unproven intravenous infusion treatments may be being marketed inappropriately.
Ahpra recently wrote to several businesses warning that their advertising of IV infusion treatments may be in breach of the National Law, which prohibits material that makes misleading or unfounded claims. What are the main issues?
IV infusion treatments are increasingly being offered across Australia, however the medical justification and scientific evidence for them has not kept pace with their marketing. Clinics charging hundreds of dollars for cocktails promising everything from boosting immunity, clearer thinking, beauty, through to anti-aging, need to be honest with their clients about the lack of scientific evidence supporting their services.
Patients also need to be aware of infection and other risks which come with all medical treatments, and which is why clinical interventions should only be provided when they are necessary. IV infusions are an invasive procedure with inherent health and safety risks.
Under Australia’s National Law, anyone advertising a regulated health service must ensure their advertising does not include false, misleading or deceptive information, does not use testimonials, and does not create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment. The legislation, enforced by Ahpra and the National Boards, also outlaws advertising which encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
As with any regulated health service, claims made about the benefits of IV infusions must be accurate and not misleading. This is because consumers are likely to rely on purported scientific claims, and be significantly influenced by such claims, when making choices about their healthcare.
Drugs and poisons legislation in each state and territory imposes restrictions on possessing, using, obtaining, selling, storing, prescribing, administering and supplying scheduled medicines. Infusions containing Schedule 4 drugs such as glutathione are subject to these additional restrictions. Registered practitioners who provide IV infusion services may face additional investigation by the regulator to ensure they are upholding a range of professional standards and obligations in their code of conduct.
Any unregistered person found to be claiming to be qualified to practise as a medical practitioner or nurse may also be subject to criminal proceedings.
Ahpra does not regulate products, including IV equipment or fluids. Concerns about health-related products should be directed to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Anyone who has concerns about a registered health practitioner is encouraged to contact Ahpra on 1300 419 495 or via the Ahpra website.
The NMBA is inviting feedback on the revised Safety and quality guidelines for privately practising midwives.
The current guidelines protect the public by articulating a robust regulatory framework to support the safe, professional practice of privately practising midwives (PPMs). By providing PPMs with current, evidence-informed regulatory information, the guidelines enhance the provision of safe, high-quality care, facilitate workforce flexibility and improve access to midwifery services.
The current guidelines were published in 2017. This review aligns with the NMBA’s commitment to review standards, codes and guidelines approximately every five years.
The intention of the review is to ensure the guidelines remain contemporary and reflect the current safety and quality expectations for PPMs. We have proposed minor updates to reflect best practice and evidence.
You can find the public consultation paper and revised Safety and quality guidelines for privately practising midwives on the NMBA consultations page. The consultation will remain open until 30 December 2022.
Public consultation on Ahpra’s draft Data strategy has opened, inviting comment on the future uses of the data we collect and hold.
As part of our work, Ahpra collect and hold data about health practitioners, students and graduates, as well as data from those who’ve raised concerns with us.
The data we hold is an important asset that can be used to improve public safety in health care. In this consultation, we are exploring how the data we collect and hold could give greater benefit to the public and practitioners and enhance our regulatory effectiveness.
We take our privacy and confidentiality obligations very seriously and apply rigorous security measures to protect the data we collect and hold. We will only share data as permitted by the National Law, the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and Australian Privacy Principles found in that Act.
We are inviting responses to specific questions about the future uses of the data we collect and hold and general comments on the draft Data strategy. We are also seeking feedback on the future directions for three focus areas:
We want the public register to continue to be a trusted source of information about health practitioners that helps the public make informed choices about their healthcare.
We’re consulting on what additional information could be included in the public register, including whether we should consider publishing health practitioners’ disciplinary history.
We want your feedback on how we share data with and receive data from other organisations to benefit the public, where permitted by our National Law and privacy legislation.
We’re also consulting on using new and emerging data technologies within a robust legal and ethical framework to help make our regulatory work more effective and efficient. Machine learning and advanced analytics could help us speed up registration processes, identify risk factors in notifications and triage higher risk matters, and support regulatory decision making. Complex regulatory decisions will continue to be made by humans and supported by data.
We will be holding some online information sessions during the consultation period. More information about these will be published on the Consultation webpage soon.
The consultation is open until 31 January 2023. Read the consultation paper and submit your feedback.
We encourage you to use the online form to make your submission. We can also accept submissions of Word documents via email.
Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies
Ahpra has successfully prosecuted Mr Edgar Dalisay for continuing to visit patients in their homes and provide nursing services while unregistered.