Protecting the public from harm is paramount for the Dental Board of Australia in its role of regulating the dental profession. We support practitioners to remain fit to practise by:
This summary highlights some of the Board’s initiatives in 2019/20.
The year has seen the Board review several standards and guidelines and the development of a flagship initiative – a national health and wellbeing support service.
Dental Practitioner Support, which is starting on 6 July 2020, is a national service and the first 24/7 free and confidential telephone and online service for all dental practitioners and students.
A significant focus in the first part of 2020 was our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and support for practitioners to continue to comply with their regulatory obligations in a rapidly changing environment.
The Board released several COVID-19 updates to practitioners by email, explaining the evolving advice about the restrictions to dental practice issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and how Ahpra and the Board would respond to the challenges of COVID-19.
It also developed and published a series of FAQs on matters such as registration, professional indemnity insurance, financial hardship and registration fees, continuing professional development and other issues.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has readily adapted to fully remote meetings, working groups and committees since March.
The COVID-19 Dental Stakeholder Liaison Group was first convened within an environment where COVID-19 was posing extraordinary challenges to the health system. Membership includes representatives from over 10 organisations, including professional associations, other regulators, accreditation authorities, private and public sectors and the education sector.
Having facilitated greater stakeholder collaboration and communication, the function of the group was expanded as the membership acknowledged the ongoing benefits and opportunities of continuing the forum for engagement around professional and consumer challenges and issues.
On 1 July 2019 a new five-year accreditation agreement came into effect. The Australian Dental Council (ADC) continues as the Board’s accrediting authority. The ADC also carried out a review of the accreditation standards. The new standards will come into effect 1 January 2021. The Board has also worked closely with the ADC to monitor the effects of COVID-19 on approved programs of study.
The revised Scope of practice registration standard, in effect from 1 July 2020, was approved by the Ministerial Council in November 2019. A ‘Know your scope’ online hub launched by the Board in May has information and resources to support dental practitioners’ understanding of their obligations under the revised standard, including:
In 2019, the Board carried out a review of the Guidelines for dental records. Following extensive consultation, the Board decided to retire these guidelines as the Code of conduct contains adequate guidance about health record management. A fact sheet and self-reflective tool have been developed and will be published before the guidelines are retired in the second half of 2020.
Together with four other Boards, the Board consulted on and approved new Guidelines for registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses, which were coming into effect 6 July 2020. The Board’s guidelines are for practitioners and students who perform exposure-prone procedures and for registered health practitioners who are treating registered health practitioners or students living with a blood-borne virus who themselves perform exposure-prone procedures. The Board holds the view that most dental practitioners working in clinical practice will perform exposure-prone procedures.
Dr Murray Thomas (Chair)