Progress on national registration

A national registration and accreditation system for health professionals, including nurses and midwives, is on course to come into effect on 1 July 2010.

Considerable progress towards implementation of the national registration and accreditation system for the health professions has been achieved with the second stage of the national registration and accreditation laws, Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009, introduced into Queensland Parliament on 11 November 2009.

The national registration and accreditation system is expected to come into effect on 1 July 2010.

Ten health professions will be included in the national system. These are: chiropractors; dental care practitioners; medical practitioners; nurses and midwives; optometrists; osteopaths; pharmacists; physiotherapists; podiatrists; and psychologists.

Agreement by the Commonwealth and States to create a national registration and accreditation system for the health professions was signed off by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 26 March 2008.

The system is being established through State and Territory laws, using an ‘applied law’ model, which will result in a finalised National Law being enacted in Queensland, with other States and Territories entering the system as participating jurisdictions.

Each State and Territory will repeal existing laws covering the functions to be performed by the new system.

The national laws will provide a public national register for each profession, independence of accreditation functions, the establishment of national boards for each profession, and the establishment of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to support the boards.

While the new national system will cover functions relating to registration and accreditation, complaints handling will still be handled in NSW by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.

A new Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia has been established, comprising eight nurse professionals, including Professor Mary Chiarella from NSW, and four community members.

The next stage of progress towards a national registration and accreditation system will be deciding the mandatory requirements for each profession for registration and accreditation. The NSWNA and ANF are currently engaged in consultation with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia about the five mandatory requirements for nurses for registration, and the standards for endorsement and accreditation.

Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda said the NSWNA strongly supports the move to a national registration and accreditation system.

‘The move to create a national registration and accreditation system aims to improve consistency in standards across the States and Territories and enable health professionals to move across Australia more easily.

‘A national system will also improve public safety by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably educated and able to demonstrate they are qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered,’ she said.

‘The Association has participated in all relevant consultation processes, at both State and national levels, to represent the interests of nurses and midwives in NSW,’ said Judith.

‘We’re pleased with the progress that has been achieved towards the development of a scheme that achieves the purpose of protection of public safety while maintaining health professions’ integrity.’

Judith added: ‘The NSWNA will continue its active involvement in the development of the system in consultation with key nursing and midwifery groups to ensure that NSW standards for nursing and midwifery are maintained and, where possible, improved.’

Important information about registering in the national system

The National Registration and Accreditation Implementation Project has announced the following arrangements for registration transition:

  • if you are registered on 30 June 2010, you will automatically be registered in the national system on 1 July 2010;
  • boards will advise you of your category and type of registration well ahead of 1 July 2010;
  • the national board will work with existing boards to design registration transition for nursing and midwifery;
  • special provisions will be made where required (eg. specialist registration) in preparation for 1 July 2010.

Benefits of national registration and accreditation

The national registration and accreditation system aims to:

  • provide greater safeguards for the public;
  • help health professionals move around the country more easily;
  • reduce red tape;
  • promote a more flexible, responsive and sustainable health workforce.

New elements for NSW nurses

The national system includes:

  • development of national standards for registration and accreditation by national boards, including the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia;
  • continued existence of State and Territory boards for handling operational matters;
  • a flexible model for complaints handling. In NSW, the Health Care Complaints Commission will continue to deal with complaints processes;
  • independent accreditation processes;
  • legislated obligation for mandatory reporting;
  • mandatory criminal history and identity checks;
  • privacy protections for practitioners and consumers;
  • mandatory requirements for continuing professional development and professional indemnity insurance;
  • student registration.

Nursing titles protected 

As under current State legislation, the following nursing and midwifery titles will be protected under the new national system:

  • Registered Nurse;
  • Nurse Practitioner;
  • Enrolled Nurse;
  • Midwife;
  • Midwife Practitioner.

In addition, the new national legislation includes and protects the title Nurse.