Over the next 18 months, we will see the draft Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment Law 2017 pass through the Queensland Parliament and then the other jurisdictions to become National.
The passing of this law will enable the establishment of the Paramedicine Board of Australia, which should commence later in 2017. The Board shall finalise and approve the various instruments that will be used by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to commence registering Paramedics from late 2018.
It is indeed an exciting time for our profession, however, we recognise that this is a period of change and some may not be fully aware of what it all means ‘for me’, so we hope to help with that here and in future updates.
Registration Standards – General
There are a number of standards that people must meet to register in one or more of the nationally regulated health professions in Australia. These are set by the board for each profession and so these will be set for us by the Paramedicine Board of Australia.
These minimum standards include:
– Entry level education (we will deal with this separately below);
– Proof of identity (including name changes where relevant);
– English language skills (standard set by each board);
– Acceptable criminal history (each case reviewed by the board if relevant);
– Disclosure of any impairments (things that effect your practice);
– Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) coverage;
Once registered, each practitioner is required to make an annual declaration as they renew, confirming they are maintaining the above standards, as well as meeting any ongoing minimum standards that may also be required, such as:
– Continuing professional development (e.g. 20 hrs annually for nurses)
– Recency of practice (e.g. 450 hrs within the past five years for nurses)
Registration Standards – Entry level Education
The relevant board is empowered to set the minimum education standards under Section 53 of the Act for their respective profession, and this in almost all cases is a degree approved by the board. However, education changes over time and what is expected of new graduates today cannot be imposed on those who have been practicing for years effectively within the profession.
Grand parenting provisions 2018-2021 (Section 310 of the Act)
From 2018 there will be a three year period to allow currently practicing Paramedics to register under the National Registration & Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) through grand parenting provisions (at Section 310 of the Law) without an approved degree. This will commence with participation day – the first day someone can be registered in Paramedicine, and end with the relevant day –three years later. The Paramedicine Board of Australia will determine the specifics of what education (and experience) will or will not fit into this Section. It is envisaged that most people currently working as a Paramedic and who do not hold the minimum educational qualification will be admitted under Section 310.
Education Standard going forward (Section 53 of the Act)
There will be a list of education providers approved by the Paramedicine Board of Australia under Section 53 of the National Law. It is envisioned that this list of approved providers and programs will initially look something like the current list of providers accredited by the Council of Ambulance Authorities Paramedic Education Program Accreditation Scheme (PEPAS). Anyone with a qualification in this group and also meeting the other standards will be entitled to apply under section 53 for registration.
Education Standard going forward (NSW’s special Section 311 of the Act)
Controversially, there is also an accepted qualification for admission separate to Section 53 and grand parenting Section 310 mentioned above. Under a newly created Section 311 of the Act a person may be accepted for registration after 2018 if they complete a Diploma of Paramedical Science issued by the Ambulance Service of NSW. This is a very specific exception to NSW Ambulance based on their employment traineeship program. This means that the HLT51015 Diploma of Paramedical Science and predecessor qualification titles within the National Health Training Package will not be recognised as meeting the minimum educational qualification to enable registration going forward.
The Council of Australian Governments agreed to the inclusion of this Section (circumventing Section 53) after strong arguments from the NSW Government. Whilst this Section is not ideal, nor did the Professional Associations (ANZCP) support it, the Council of Australian Governments have accepted this Section to ensure the NSW Government agreed to the State of NSW being included in the National Scheme.
Other proposed changes in the draft 2017 Act
Within the draft Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment Law 2017 there are other changes that effect all the regulated professions. These range from changes to improve ineffective areas in the old law, to facilitate efficiencies for future changes, establishing nursing and midwifery as separate disciplines, as well as allowing the Paramedicine Board to operate prior to registration commencing. We have not gone into details about these changes at this time. They are explained in the FAQ and Summary documents provided by COAG Health Council if you wish to explore them in more detail.
Registration is a new chapter in our profession and we encourage all Paramedics to familiarise themselves with the changes involved.
National Law Amendment documents
Summary of the draft Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment Law 2017 – click here
Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Amendment Law 2017 – Frequently asked questions – click here
Australian & New Zealand College of Paramedicine – Registration
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
CAA Accredited Courses – Council of Ambulance Authorities