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Action needed on registration: health minsters

Ministers step in to restore professional confidence in AHPRA.

Extra resources will be provided to the national health registration agency in an effort to fix its significant administrative problems.

The pledge was made by state and federal health ministers at a recent meeting in Hobart, after agreeing action needed to be taken to “restore professional confidence” in the new system.

Plagued by controversy since the national scheme was introduced in July last year, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Agency has welcomed the offer of assistance.

The most recent problems raised by nurses and other health workers surround lapsed registration. They have complained of not receiving renewal notices, the loss of documents by AHPRA, long waits in getting through to the helpline and AHPRA’s failure to process renewals on time.

Martin Fletcher, AHPRA CEO, told the ministers a number of steps are being taken to address the most recent challenges including the establishment of a process to fast track practitioners whose registration has lapsed, immediate upgrades to improve online services and improving communication systems through the state office network.

“We are now focused on making our processes as user friendly as possible for practitioners,” Fletcher said.

The ministers said it was important that health practitioners wanting to continue to practice, and their patients, not be disadvantaged and pledged to “provide additional support and expertise to assist AHPRA in managing this vital function”.

Additional monitoring of the agency will also be introduced, with AHPRA required to report to future meetings of health ministers.

The federal government will also consider continuing to pay Medicare rebates for a period of time to patients of practitioners whose registration has lapsed.

For practitioners who did not renew their registration within one month of its expiry date, the fast track application form is published online with AHPRA usually processing fast track applications within 48 hours.

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