February 2020

Contents


Message from the Chair

This is an exciting year for the professions, with the World Health Organization declaring 2020 the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The NMBA is thrilled to be involved in promoting the role of nurses and midwives globally and will keep you updated throughout the year.

Registration renewal will open in April and we have some tips on how to answer your renewal questions accurately – see the article in this newsletter.

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, registered nurse and midwife
Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN

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NMBA news

New Decision-making framework takes effect for the professions

This month the new Decision-making framework for nursing and midwifery (DMF) took effect, supporting safe and consistent decision-making in the professions.

The DMF particularly helps to make decisions in practice about delegation and scope of practice.

The NMBA has also developed supporting resources, the Decision-making framework summary: Nursing and the Decision-making framework summary: Midwifery.

The summaries provide a series of questions for nurses and midwives to ask when making a decision about scope of practice or delegation.

To view the DMF and summaries, visit the NMBA website

Update from the November and December 2019 NMBA meetings

In November, the NMBA met in Adelaide and took the opportunity to hold an information forum with nurses and midwives at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

At its December meeting, the NMBA considered the Productivity Commission’s draft report on mental health and established a working group with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) to provide feedback to its recommendations.

In December, the NMBA also reviewed the draft revised Nurse practitioner standards for practice and the draft revised Recency of practice registration standard. The NMBA approved both standards for preliminary consultation. The standards are expected to be released for public consultation later in 2020.

The NMBA also considered the Educating the nurse of the future report (the report) published by the Commonwealth Department of Health. There are several recommendations in the report for consideration by the NMBA, ANMAC and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and we will work together to develop a response.

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

Ready to renew? Tips to answer renewal questions accurately

Renewal will open in April for all nurses and midwives with general or non-practising registration. We’ve put together some top tips on renewing, based on frequent queries we receive.

I have a health issue – do I need to declare it?

You only need to declare an impairment – which means a condition that is likely to detrimentally affect your practice. Most health issues are not impairments.

You do not need to declare well-managed health conditions that do not affect your practice. For example, you don’t need to tell us about needing prescription glasses or taking time off work for a short-term illness or injury.

If there was a period where I wasn’t working and didn’t hold professional indemnity insurance (PII), can I still meet the standard?

When you renew your general registration, you are asked to declare if you have met the PII arrangements registration standard in the previous registration period and will do so for this registration period.

You are not required to hold PII when you are not practising. If you have had periods of not holding PII when you were not practising, you can still meet the standard. Remember, practice means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a health practitioner in their profession.

For more tips on answering your renewal questions accurately, visit the fact sheet.

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 few common questions.

What if I got my registration less than a year ago?

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 prior to the 31 May annual renewal date you are registered to practise until 31 May of the following year. Check the national register if you are not sure when your registration is due for renewal.

I haven’t worked since I finished studying – do I need to complete continuing professional development (CPD)?

When you renew your general registration, you are asked to declare if you have met the CPD registration standard in the previous registration period. You must complete CPD to hold general registration, whether or not you are practising. The studies which qualified you for registration as a nurse or a midwife do not count as CPD.

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 on renewing for the first time, visit the First-time renewing page on the NMBA website.

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Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies

The NMBA publishes summaries of tribunal decisions about nurses and midwives as professional learning case studies. All information in these summaries has been made publicly available by the relevant tribunal before the NMBA publishes its summary.

Tribunal cancels nurse’s registration for professional misconduct

A tribunal has cancelled a nurse’s registration for professional misconduct and disqualified her from reapplying for two years after she kept money paid by patients for vaccinations.

For more information read the news item.

Tribunal suspends nurse who breached professional boundaries

A tribunal has suspended a registered nurse after she admitted to engaging in professional misconduct.

For more information read the news item.

Former nurse convicted for working in aged care while suspended

A South Australian woman who continued to work as a nurse in aged care after her registration was suspended, was convicted in the Magistrates Court of South Australia of all 66 charges laid by Ahpra.

For more information read the news item.

Tribunal disqualifies former nurse for six months

A tribunal has disqualified a former nurse from applying for registration for six months following criminal convictions concerning drug trafficking.

For more information read the news item

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National Scheme news

Health practitioners encouraged to seek advice about their own health

An important part of being a health professional is getting the healthcare you need, without fearing a mandatory notification.

Mandatory notifications are a part of the National Law and set out obligations for registered health practitioners, employers and education providers. These obligations aim to protect the public by ensuring that Ahpra and the National Boards are made aware of practitioners who may be placing the public at serious risk of harm.

A health practitioner’s physical or mental health issue rarely needs a mandatory notification.

Having a health issue is not in itself a reason to make a mandatory notification. If a practitioner has taken steps to deal with it, such as taking time away from work, or is engaged in an effective treatment plan, we don’t need to know about it. Ahpra and National Boards recognise that there may be times when health practitioners need professional advice about their own health, and we encourage them to get that support. Practitioners should seek advice without worrying about a mandatory notification being made about them.

Changes to mandatory notifications

Early this year, Health Ministers agreed to make changes to mandatory notifications requirements in the National Law and the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Qld) (the Bill) was passed by the Queensland Parliament in February 2019.

The changes only apply to treating practitioners and intend to support practitioners to seek advice for a health issue (including mental health issues), while continuing to protect the public. This is because the circumstances for treating practitioners to make mandatory notifications are more limited than they are for other groups.

When the amendments take effect in March 2020, they will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where mandatory notification requirements will not change.

Find out more, download resources and access the current guidelines for mandatory notifications on the Ahpra website.

Ahpra and National Boards welcome policy directions

Ahpra and the National Boards have welcomed two new policy directions from the COAG Health Council which reinforce that Ahpra and National Boards are to prioritise public protection in the work of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

The two directions state that public protection is paramount and require consultation with patient safety and health care consumer bodies on any new and revised registration standards, codes and guidelines, as well as other considerations.

The first policy direction outlines the consideration that National Boards and Ahpra must give to the public (including vulnerable people in the community) when determining whether to take regulatory action about a health practitioner. It also authorises limited sharing of information with employers and state/territory health departments about serious matters involving the conduct of a registered health practitioner.

As the national regulators, it is Ahpra and the National Boards’ responsibility to protect the public and prevent harm. However, most health practitioners practise safely and well. In 2018/19 around 98 per cent of all registered practitioners did not have any concerns reported about their conduct, health or performance.

The second policy direction requires National Boards to consult with patient safety bodies and consumer bodies on registration standards, codes and guidelines when these are being developed or revised. It also provides that National Boards and Ahpra must:

  • consider the impacts of the new or revised registration standard on vulnerable members of the community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and
  • prepare and publish a ‘patient health and safety impact statement’ with each new or revised registration standard, code or guideline.

In implementing these policy directions, Ahpra and National Boards will continue to ensure fairness for health practitioners in regulatory processes. The policy directions can be viewed on the Ahpra and National Board websites 

Alert

Victorian practitioners: information on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act

On 1 July 2019, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) began operation in Victoria. The Board draws specific attention to section 8 of the Act, which states that a registered health practitioner who provides health services or professional care services to a person must not, in the course of providing those services to the person:

  • initiate a discussion that is, in substance, about voluntary assisted dying (s 8(1)(a))
  • in substance, suggest voluntary assisted dying to that person (s 8(1)(b)).

A breach of this requirement is deemed to be unprofessional conduct for the purposes of the National Law (s 8(3)). It is noted, however, that section 8 does not prevent a health practitioner providing information about voluntary assisted dying to a person at that person’s request (s 8(2)) (emphasis added).

We encourage Victorian health practitioners who have not already done so, to review the Act and familiarise themselves with its requirements.

If you need further information, we encourage you to contact your professional association or professional indemnity insurer. Information about the Act is available on the health.vic 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: Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009, as in force in each state and territory.

 
 
Page reviewed 26/02/2020