Dental Board of Australia - May 2024
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May 2024

Issue 31 - May 2024

Chair’s message

Murray Thomas

Welcome to our first newsletter for 2024. This edition covers recent activities aiming to enhance and strengthen the quality of care that registered practitioners provide to their patients. Ahpra’s recent partnership with Weenthunga Health Network is essential to eliminating racism. We will be working on a co-design project to develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines for cultural safety.

Please give your feedback on the draft guidance on embedding good practices in clinical placements, simulation-based learning, and virtual care for students. We encourage you to read the Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent, which strives to enhance patient safety through coordinated and interprofessional collaborative care.

Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity. – John Hume

Dr Murray Thomas
Chair, Dental Board of Australia

Priority news

Superannuation to fund dental care

The Dental Board is concerned about growing reports of dental practitioners encouraging patients to access superannuation to fund dental care. Patients may apply for early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds if they meet certain eligibility criteria.

While good dental practice involves upholding the right of patients to gain access to necessary levels of healthcare, practitioners must ensure services they provide are appropriate, necessary and likely to benefit the patient, and that they comply with the advertising requirements under the National Law.

Read the full news item.

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Consultation on embedding good practice in clinical placements and simulation-based learning

Ahpra’s Accreditation Committee is seeking feedback on its draft guidance on embedding good practice in clinical placements, simulation-based learning and virtual care in initial education for student health practitioners. The guidance will support improvements in these important components of every health practitioner’s initial education.

The committee wants to ensure that our student health practitioners have access to high quality clinical placements, simulation-based learning and virtual care educational experiences. These activities enable students to develop the capabilities they need for contemporary practice, and to provide patient-centred care safely and competently.

The aim of the guidance is to help National Scheme entities, in particular National Boards and accreditation authorities, improve student education in these areas.

Find out more about this consultation and provide feedback on the committee’s Current consultations webpage. The public consultation runs till close of business (AEST) Friday, 21 June 2024.

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Board news

Reminder: Board resources available to help your record keeping

We remind you about the resources available to help you reflect on and improve your record-keeping practices. The Board’s fact sheet and self-reflective tool can help you meet your obligations to maintain health records under the Code of conduct.

The Board recently reviewed its decision to replace the Guidelines on dental records with other resources in October 2020. We sought feedback from practitioners to understand how this change had affected them, and their dental record-keeping practices. The conclusion of the review was that there is no current requirement to make changes to the Board’s resources for dental records.

Board engages with community groups on priorities in regulation

The Board met in Adelaide in March 2024, and the Chair and Executive Officer also met with several South Australian-based community groups.

Organisations representing a range of users of dental and oral health services, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, aged or aging patients, people experiencing poverty, LGBTIQA+ people, and groups representing multicultural Australia told us about their concerns, priorities and queries relating to dental and oral healthcare and regulation.

Key themes we heard about included concerns about access to services, the importance of a community-based navigator approach to healthcare, and how inclusivity and awareness, from the waiting room to the dental chair, can support better health outcomes for community members. This engagement helps the Board inform its approach to reviewing its codes, guidelines and registration standards and we thank all organisations for their time in speaking with us.

TGA publishes new guidance for dental practitioners

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recently published new guidance to help dental practitioners comply with their regulatory obligations when manufacturing, adapting or supplying medical devices.

The TGA’s Guidance for dental practitioners provides examples of when a dental device needs to be included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) and who is responsible for the inclusion.

You can also review the recently released medical device regulatory basics to increase your understanding of how to comply with the TGA’s requirements.

Students and graduates

Beware of identity theft – don’t post your registration certificate online

Successfully registering with the Board is one of the final steps for new graduates starting their career in their chosen profession. It’s an exciting step and one to feel immensely proud of. The temptation might be strong to celebrate by sharing your first registration certificate with the world – but think twice before posting.

Identity theft is rife. Every day, websites pop up selling fake Ahpra certificates of registration based on real ones that graduating practitioners have posted on their social media. Never post your identity documents online. You’ve worked hard to earn your registration; don’t let somebody steal it.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

Quarterly registration data to 31 December 2023 shows that at this date, there were 27,658 registered dental practitioners in Australia:

  • 24,523 had general registration
  • 1,851 had general and specialist registration
  • 67 had specialist registration
  • 43 had limited registration (postgraduate training, supervised practice, teaching or research), and
  • 1,172 had non-practising registration.

Two practitioners had both general and non-practising registration.

Visit our Statistics page for more data, including registrant numbers by division of dental practice, age, gender, and principal place of practice.

What’s new?

Regulators come together as one million Australians turn to medicinal cannabis treatments

Maintaining a balance between access to medicinal cannabis and its safety is a priority for health regulators across Australia amid a growing number of prescriptions and the emergence of telehealth, online prescribing and direct-to-consumer health services. Australia’s medicine regulation system is complex, with different agencies responsible for overseeing the medicines themselves, the health professionals who prescribe and provide them, and the premises where they are stored and dispensed.

In February, Ahpra and several of the National Boards convened a forum in Melbourne that brought together health regulators to share information and regulatory intelligence, discuss any current risks to the public, and determine how all regulators can best work together.

The use of unapproved medicinal cannabis products has spiralled in recent years, from around 18,000 Australians in 2019 to more than one million in January 2024. The number of prescribers accessing the Authorised Prescriber and the Special Access Scheme has also risen sharply to more than 5,700 medical and nurse practitioners prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis products that have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for safety, quality, or efficacy.

The forum attendees agreed to continue discussions with the aim to monitor issues and identify any gaps in the regulatory and wider health response to this rapidly growing industry. In particular:

  • improving data and information sharing among Australia’s regulatory agencies
  • gaining a better understanding of the drivers of the recent rapid rise in access to these products
  • enhancing communication to prescribers, including clinical guidance, on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis products
  • examining ways of better educating consumers about medicinal cannabis medications, and
  • encouraging more research to drive the production of clinical guidelines for medicinal cannabis.

Read more in the communiqué on Ahpra’s website.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent

The Ahpra Accreditation Committee has published its Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent. The statement of intent aims to embed interprofessional collaborative practice across the continuum of healthcare settings.

The statement is a fundamental step towards achieving effective team-based and coordinated care across Australia. It is a commitment to improving the outcomes for patients and consumers by reducing the risk of fragmented and uncoordinated care.

Interprofessional collaborative practice is healthcare practice where multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together and with patients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination.

The statement represents a joint commitment from 53 stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action.

Read more in the news item.

Partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism. Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines on cultural safety for registered practitioners.

The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing. By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and continuing professional development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions in the National Scheme, we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated, as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour.

Read more in the media release.

Myths and misconceptions about notifications – getting the help you need

Too often, practitioners struggle in silence when they are dealing with a health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue – or even just the day-to-day challenges of being a health practitioner.

The best thing you can do – for yourself, for your family, and for your patients – is to seek help early and to actively engage in recommended treatments. This might be from your own GP, another health practitioner or from one of the many independent practitioner support services available. This includes the independent health service, Dental Practitioner Support, a national 24/7 health and wellbeing support service for all dental practitioners.

There is a common misconception that if you seek help, your treating practitioner will automatically be required to report it to Ahpra and your registration may be affected.

The threshold for when treating practitioners need to make a mandatory notification about health is very high and only necessary when the public is at substantial risk of harm. The need for a mandatory notification to be made is not often met.

If you are managing your health and getting the help you need, you can usually continue to practise. The Board wants you to be healthy and safe to practise, and encourages you to seek help early when you need support.

Keep in touch with the Board

As always, we encourage you to regularly check the Dental Board website for information and updates relating to the dental profession.

  • Visit our website for information on the National Scheme and the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets. Board consultation papers are published on the site under News.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Executive Officer, Dental Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 16/05/2024