National registration comes on board

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions has now taken effect. Here’s what you need to know.

On 1 July 2010, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 commenced and introduced the regulation of 10 health professions by nationally consistent legislation.

For the first time, there is now one National Board setting standards and policies for the regulation of each of the 10 Australian health professions covered by the National Law. Each National Board is supported in this task by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The NSW Government has implemented a co-regulatory model for the regulation of registered health professionals employed in NSW by adopting the parts of the National Law that deal with registration and accreditation and maintaining NSW legislation for complaints handling.

The new NSW law, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW), repeals the Nurses and Midwives Act 1991 and other health professions’ Acts and makes provision for a Health Professional Council’s Authority that includes individual Councils for each of the health professions in NSW.

The Nurses and Midwives Board in NSW will change its name but will have a continuing role as a health professional ‘Council’ dealing with the disciplinary provisions of the new NSW legislation. Under the new law, the members of the Nurses and Midwives Board (as it is now) will undertake two separate roles:

  • As the State body (board) for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia; and,
  • As the Nursing and Midwifery Council, dealing with complaints, impairment and performance issues.

The new Nursing and Midwifery Council will continue to occupy the current location at Level 6, 477 Pitt Street, Sydney.

More information

Information on the full requirements for national registration is available at: www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/index.php, www.ahpra.gov.au/index.php, www.nmb.nsw.gov.au/New-South-Wales-Health-Professional-Councils-Authority/default.aspx

New obligations for nurses and midwives

Continuing professional development (CPD)

All nurses and midwives who are engaged in any form of nursing or midwifery practice will be required to complete CPD that is relevant to their context of practice. This will require 20 hours of CPD per year which involves learning activities to maintain and enhance knowledge and skills pertaining to their area of practice.

Nurses and midwives in NSW will be given a full 12 months in the national scheme to comply with the requirements for the Board’s registration standards.

Recency of practice

Nurses and midwives must have undertaken sufficient practice within the preceding five years, for a period equivalent to a minimum of three months full time, to demonstrate competence in their profession. Practice is defined as any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses skill and knowledge as a nurse or midwife.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)

Nurses and midwives must not practise their professions unless they are covered in the conduct of their practice by appropriate PII arrangements.

Mandatory reporting obligation

The National Law requires that a registered health practitioner must notify the Board if, in the course of practising their profession, they form a reasonable belief that another registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct only as defined in the law.

Student registration

From March 2011, all nursing and midwifery students enrolled in an accredited program will automatically be registered in the national scheme. Students do not apply for registration; this information is given to the Board by their education provider. Students do not pay a registration fee and are not required to comply with the registration standards for health practitioners until they apply for registration after they have graduated.