Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - May 2020
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May 2020


Message from the Chair

I’d like to welcome student nurses and student midwives to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) newsletter. You will now receive the newsletter alongside your registered colleagues. This is the first time we have sent our newsletter to nursing and midwifery students across the country. You are a valued part of our professions and we hope you will find the NMBA newsletter helpful now and for your future.

Earlier this month we celebrated the International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day on the 5th and 12th of May respectively. On behalf of the Board and all Australians I want to thank all midwives and nurses for your contribution to your communities. This is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and during the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen all over the world how important our professions are to global health and wellbeing. We recognise the sacrifice that nurses and midwives have made and continue to make.

We know that we need to adapt our regulatory role to support you during the pandemic. Please see our COVID19 guidance for the professions. We’ve also made changes to registration renewal this year which you can read about in this newsletter. Thank you to those of you who have already renewed – if you haven’t renewed yet please make sure you do so by 31 May.

We have made a payment plan available to those experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 – if you think you are eligible, please make sure you make your application before you renew and before the deadline of 24 May. Information on eligibility criteria and how to apply are available on our Renewal fact sheet under ‘What can I do if I’m experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19?’

Finally, I’d like to remind you – nurses and midwives as well as students – that you have access to a free, confidential health support program, Nurse & Midwife Support. You can get in touch 24/7 on 1800 667 887 and speak about your health and wellbeing to someone who understands the professions. Remember, your health comes first.

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

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN

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Call for applications

The NMBA’s state and territory boards are delegated functions by the NMBA to make registration and notification decisions about nurses and midwives.

Applications are now sought from registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives to fill multiple practitioner member and chair vacancies arising in the following jurisdictions:

  • Australian Capital Territory – 3 practitioner members and Chair
  • Northern Territory – 1 practitioner member
  • Victoria – multiple practitioner members
  • South Australia – 3 practitioner members and Chair

More information about the roles, eligibility requirements and the application process can be found in the information documents and online application form available on the Board member recruitment page on the Ahpra website. Please note applications close at 5.00pm AEST, Friday 26 June 2020.

NMBA news

International days of recognition

This month, we celebrated midwives and nurses across the world on the International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day. Members of the NMBA thanked midwives and nurses for on social media for leading the health and wellbeing of their communities, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year has been declared the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO calculated that the world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.

Read our media releases on the International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day.

COVID-19 resources for nurses and midwives

To support nurses, midwives and students during the pandemic, the NMBA has published COVID-19 guidance and resources.

Information is available on issues such as: 

  • scope of practice 
  • supervised practice registration conditions
  • transitioning from non-clinical to clinical practice, and
  • education and accreditation.

Please see the COVID19 guidance section of the NMBA website for more information.

The Australian government is encouraging Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to help to find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. More information is available on the Department of Health website.

Updates from the February and March 2020 NMBA meetings

In February, the NMBA held its annual combined meeting with all other National Boards in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

The NMBA noted feedback to the public consultation on the Guidelines for registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses. Feedback was strongly supportive of the proposal that Boards should expect practitioners and students to comply with the 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. More information on the requirements for nurses and midwives will be published later this year. Most nurses and midwives don’t perform exposure-prone procedures in their normal practice.

At its March meeting, the NMBA approved plans to support practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic including adapting renewal requirements for nurses and midwives and developing the Pandemic response sub register.

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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Answering your top questions about renewal declarations

Registration renewal is open and you need to renew your registration by 31 May. Each year when you renew you’re asked to make certain declarations, for example, about your health and your criminal history.

Our renewal fact sheet answers common questions about these declarations and lets you know what’s changed during the pandemic.

Do I need to declare things like speeding fines for my criminal history?

If an infringement carries a possible sentence of 12 months imprisonment or more, you need to tell us about it. This will depend on which state or territory you’re in.

If you’re sure that the infringement doesn’t carry that level of possible sentence, you don’t need to declare it.

If you’re unsure (and haven’t told us about it before), it’s better to declare it and make sure you provide us with the details. 

You must tell us if:

  • you’re in Western Australia and have been convicted for unpaid parking fines
  • you’re in Queensland and pleaded guilty to an offence charge and the outcome was guilty without conviction, or
  • you’re in Tasmania and you’ve received a speeding or parking fine.

Remember, giving us all the details of the change to your criminal history at the time you renew will help us speed up your renewal. The Board won’t usually need to take any action for low-level offences.

For other top tips, visit our renewal fact sheet.

Financial hardship payment plan

The NMBA and Ahpra have made a payment plan available for nurses and midwives experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19. If you meet the criteria, you will be eligible to pay half your registration fee now and make a second payment by October 2020.

You must make your application for the financial hardship payment plan before you renew and before the deadline of 24 May 2020.

To find out if you meet the criteria and how to apply, please see the renewal fact sheet.

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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 on the First time renewing page on our website.

We answer questions about pro-rata CPD, meeting the recency of practice standard and more.

Clinical placements during the COVID-19 pandemic

The NMBA and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) are aware that some students are unable to complete their clinical placements because they have been paused or cancelled due to COVID-19. We recognise that this is a stressful situation for students which may delay their graduation and the start of their careers.

Whether it is safe and possible for clinical placements to proceed at this time is for education providers and health services to decide. They must consider the safety of students, practitioners and the public in line with the COVID-19 guidance in their state or territory. Clinical placement is a vital part of nursing and midwifery education to ensure nurses and midwives are fully equipped to practise safely.

Ahpra and the National Boards, together with the Australian Government and the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum, have set National principles for clinical education during COVID 19 to guide decisions of professions, accreditation authorities, education providers and health services about student clinical education during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The NMBA and ANMAC will continue to work with education providers and other stakeholders to support students and graduates as much as possible during this difficult time. The NMBA and ANMAC will release a statement on the NMBA website soon with respect to challenges faced by student midwives and continuity of care experiences as a result of restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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 disqualifies former nurse for two years

A tribunal has disqualified a former nurse from applying for registration for two years following her conviction for unlawful wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

For more information read the news item.

Tribunal disqualifies former nurse for two years for professional misconduct

A tribunal has disqualified a former nurse from applying for registration for two years for accessing child exploitation material.

For more information read the news item.

Tribunal disqualifies nurse for five years for failing to maintain professional boundaries

A tribunal has cancelled an enrolled nurse’s registration and disqualified him from reapplying for registration for five years after he had a sexual relationship with a vulnerable patient.

For more information read the news item.

Former nurse who filmed patients disqualified for eight years

A tribunal has disqualified a former enrolled nurse from applying for registration for eight years for professional misconduct, including filming a distressed dementia patient and sharing the video with her partner and a friend.

For more information read the news item.

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National Scheme news

Podcasts on the pandemic and beyond

Ahpra has released a number of podcasts on areas of interest to all health professionals in the Taking care podcast series. The topics covered in the podcasts include pandemic and non-pandemic-related issues.

In a recent episode on Health practitioner wellbeing in the pandemic era and beyond, psychiatrist Dr Kym Jenkins, clinical psychologist Margie Stuchbery and Dr Jane Munro, a rheumatologist, share personal and professional insights on practitioner wellbeing. They discuss practical and evidence-based strategies to safeguard and support practitioners and teams through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Ahpra releases a new episode every fortnight. You can download on the Ahpra website  or listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking Care’ in your podcast player.

Podcasts include:

  • Telehealth in the pandemic era
  • Introducing the COVID-19 pandemic sub-register
  • Dr Gerald Hickson on patient safety and high-risk practitioners
  • Launching the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025
  • A new look at mandatory notifications
  • Ahpra’s role in the health system
  • A view of mental health from both sides
  • The practitioner experience of a notification
  • Safe, competent and ethical health practitioners
  • Vexatious notifications.

No place for racism in healthcare

In April, the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) issued a media release detailing occasions of medical practitioners denying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people access to culturally safe healthcare. They were seeking testing for COVID-19. These cases in rural New South Wales and Western Australia involved refusal of care on the grounds of patient identity and racist stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders not practising self-hygiene.

Racism from registered healthcare professionals will not be tolerated, particularly given the vulnerability of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to the virus. They continue to experience prejudice and bias when seeking necessary healthcare. Discrimination in healthcare contributes to health inequity.

We encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have experienced culturally unsafe incidents of care or refusal of care by a registered health practitioner to submit a notification or complaint to Ahpra.

In February 2020, the National Scheme's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025 was released, proving our commitment to achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety. The strategy strives to achieve the national priority of a health system free of racism.

We remind all registered health practitioners that they are required to comply with their profession’s Code of conduct, which condemns discrimination and racism in health practice.

Additional professions added to the pandemic response sub-register

Following a request from Australia’s Health Ministers, Ahpra and National Boards have established a short-term pandemic response sub-register to help fast-track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners. The pandemic response sub-register came into effect on 6 April 2020 with over 40,000 doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists added in the first phase and an additional 5,000 diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists in the second phase later that month.

The register operates on an opt-out basis and anyone with a health issue that prevents them from practising safely or who will not have professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place was encouraged to opt out. So far over 35,000 practitioners remain on the sub-register.

There is no obligation for anyone added to the sub-register to practise or remain on it. They can opt out at any time for any reason.

Practitioners who choose to stay on the pandemic sub-register and go back to work, must comply with their profession’s Code of conduct, professional indemnity insurance requirements and work within their scope of practice. After 12 months, they will be removed from the sub-register. If they would like to continue practising after that time, they will need to apply for registration through the standard process.

Being added to the sub-register is the first step in returning to practice. We encourage practitioners to go to their state and territory health department website where they can express interest in joining their COVID-19 workforce. Employers, including health departments, will also play an important role by carrying out employment and probity checks and providing any induction and training that may be needed.

More information, including FAQs, for practitioners and employers is available on the COVID-19 information page.

False and misleading advertising on COVID-19

Ahpra and National Boards recognise the vital role of registered health practitioners in treating and containing the COVID-19 emergency. We know you are working hard to keep people safe in a demanding and fast-changing environment.

A consequence of the current situation is greater public awareness of individual health and wellbeing, leading to many questions about treating and containing the disease. People are likely to seek reassurance and answers about COVID-19 from their trusted health professional. While most health practitioners are responding professionally to the COVID-19 emergency and focusing on providing safe care, we are seeing some examples of false and misleading advertising about COVID-19.

It is vital that health practitioners only provide information about COVID-19 that is scientifically accurate and from authoritative sources, such as a state, territory or Commonwealth health department or the World Health Organization (WHO). According to these sources, there is currently no cure or evidence-based treatment or therapy which prevents infection by COVID-19 and work is currently underway on a vaccine.

Other than sharing health information from authoritative sources, you should not make advertising claims about preventing or protecting people from contracting COVID-19 or accelerating recovery from COVID-19. To do so involves risk to public safety and may be unlawful advertising. For example, we are seeing some advertising claims that spinal adjustment/manipulation, acupuncture and some products confer or boost immunity or enhance recovery from COVID-19 when there is no acceptable evidence to support this.

We will consider action against anyone found to be making false or misleading claims about COVID-19 in advertising. Breaching advertising obligations is also a professional conduct matter which may result in disciplinary action, especially where advertising is clearly false, misleading or exploitative. There are also significant penalties for false and misleading advertising claims about therapeutic products under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

For more information, see Ahpra’s Advertising resources web page.

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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 18/05/2020