2 February 2011 The Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton today called on the Health Minister Nicola Roxon to intervene to sort-out the strife-riddled changeover to a national registration system for the medical workforce.
Doctors, nurses and other health practitioners are finding their registration has not been renewed leaving them unable to practice or take up jobs with subsequent detrimental impacts on patients.
Mr Dutton said Health Minister Roxon also needed to reveal and explain the extent of problems surrounding the registration of health practitioners under the new national registration scheme.
The agency seems to think that nothing is wrong, but its apparent inability to carry out its task is now affecting patients.
Mr Dutton said that after seven months of operation the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency was still not managing to cope with the task of registering health professionals.
Medical practitioners went through months of delays and bungles after AHPRA took over registration responsibilities last July.
Many described the process as a “shambles”, found they could not communicate with the agency, found that their paperwork was lost or could not be located, some found they were de-registered.
Now nurses and other streams of medical workers are facing the same problems.
Large numbers of nurses apparently won’t be registered or have received their registration paperwork by required deadlines.
“It will mean they will not be able to work – nursing graduates who have applied for their first jobs are being told that if they are not registered the job will not be held for them,” Mr Dutton said.
“Many have filed all the appropriate paperwork, complied with guidelines sent out by APHRA and find they still can be given no information or guarantee that they are registered or will be registered.”
“They are finding this incredibly frustrating and distressing and they shouldn’t be facing these problems.”
“I am aware of psychologists who were unaware their registration had not been renewed despite filing all the necessary paperwork and of physiotherapists who are being forced to close the doors on their practices through not fault of their own.”
“They tried to renew their registration, but the agency has failed to do the paperwork.”
Mr Dutton said if the agency had teething problems after its commencement in July they should have been ironed out by now.
“Minister Roxon needs to chronicle the problems and explain why the registration process is faltering,” Mr Dutton said.
“She also needs to provide advice to the thousands of health professionals who are seemingly caught in a bureaucratic nightmare surrounding their registration. What they are to do? What their status is? What the situation surrounding liability is?” Can they continue to practice? What happens if they face extended periods unable to work or open their practices?
Mr Dutton said there were considerable questions and uncertainty and the Minister needed to provide explanations to concerned health practitioners.