As we near the end of the year, I am pleased to update dental practitioners about important reforms to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
The wide-ranging changes focus on public safety, entrenching public protection as paramount within the legislation, and recognising cultural safety as a guiding principle and objective of the National Law.
The new guiding principle is to ensure the development of a culturally safe and respectful health workforce that is responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and their health, and contributes to the elimination of racism in the provision of health services.
The Board has recently released a position statement on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. The position statement provides practitioners with information about the convention, including actions dental practitioners can take to phase down the use of dental amalgam in accordance with the convention.
What we all want is public safety. We don't want rhetoric that's framed through ideology. Kamala Harris, 2022
Dr Murray Thomas
Chair, Dental Board of Australia
Dental practitioners have until 30 November 2022 to renew their general, specialist or non-practising registration on time.
We encourage you to renew now to avoid delays during the busy renewal period. Renewing on time also means you’ll avoid late fees which apply after 30 November 2022.
Look out for an email from Ahpra providing access to online renewal. When renewing, make sure you also renew your endorsement to practise conscious sedation, if applicable – see more in the CPD article below.
Read more in the news item.
The Board has frozen its registration fees for 2022/23 at $719 for dentists and specialists, $639 for dental prosthetists and $355 for dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists.
Practitioner registration fees fund the work of Ahpra and the National Boards to keep the public safe. The National Boards work closely with Ahpra to keep fees as low as possible while continuing to meet regulatory obligations and the expectations of the public and practitioners.
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The widest-ranging reform to health practitioner regulation since the National Scheme was established in 2010, has now passed into law.
While some of the changes have already come into place, the majority have a delayed start, allowing Ahpra and the National Boards time to implement the reforms.
Some of the significant changes that have already started include a new paramount principle that puts public safety at the centre of regulatory decision-making and a new guiding principle and objective that embeds cultural safety into the National Law.
Next year will see new powers to strengthen public protection while maintaining fairness for practitioners come into effect. These reforms include:
Read more in the news item. Resources including an information guide and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the National Law amendments page on the Ahpra website.
If you’re a registered dental practitioner, you need to meet the Board’s Continuing professional development registration standard to meet your registration requirements.
To meet the standard, you must complete a minimum of 60 hours of CPD activities over a three-year CPD cycle. The current cycle started on 1 December 2019 and ends on 30 November 2022.
The Board and Ahpra acknowledged that in 2020 and 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected your ability to carry out CPD. We will not take action if you have not been able to complete CPD during those years, and subsequently have not been able to meet the registration standard for the CPD cycle ending on 30 November 2022.
It’s important that you answer all questions honestly and accurately when completing your registration renewal. You must declare that you have not met the CPD requirements if that is the case. In the future the Board may request evidence of what you have done to address any identified gaps in your CPD learning needs. We encourage you to make up the shortfall in hours during the next CPD cycle.
Practitioners who hold an endorsement to practise conscious sedation have a professional obligation to complete a competency based course in dental sedation and medical emergencies every year, under the Endorsement for conscious sedation registration standard. If you hold this endorsement you must meet this requirement when renewing in 2022.
The Board has developed a reflective practice tool to help you reflect on your individual knowledge and skills and how they relate to your current practice. The tool can help you plan CPD, and time taken to complete the tool can be claimed as CPD. To find out more and to download the tool, go to the Know your scope information hub.
You’ll find the registration standard, Guidelines for continuing professional development and more on the Board’s CPD web page.
If you haven’t done it for a while, now is the time to review your professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements to make sure that you are compliant with the registration standard.
To practise as a dental practitioner, you are required to hold appropriate PII – it’s a requirement of the National Law, it’s a requirement of the registration standard, and it’s an important part of keeping the public safe.
Registration renewal is due and you’ll need to declare you hold PII. Before you make this declaration, the Board suggests you:
Note that if you have a gap in PII and fail to notify Ahpra at the time but instead declare the gap later, you will have failed to comply with your obligations under the National Law.
If you are uncertain about the PII you need, seek professional advice from your employer, professional or industrial association, insurance broker or legal advisor.
The Board has developed a Position statement - Dental practitioners and students and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The position statement provides information to dental practitioners and students about the Minamata Convention on Mercury (the convention), to which Australia is a party. Parties to the convention are required to take actions to phase down the use of dental amalgam. The aim is to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.
Under the convention, Australia is required to take action to ensure:
The Board expects dental practitioners and students will refer to and practise in alignment with the convention, including the phase-down actions for dental amalgam.
Dental practitioners can use dental amalgam but should consider whether it is appropriate based on a patient’s individual needs and circumstances. Under the Board’s Code of conduct, practitioners need to consider the balance of potential benefit and harm in all clinical management decisions.
Read more about the Board’s position statement in our news item.
Dental graduates set to complete their course this year can take the first step in their new career by applying for registration now. You can watch a video, Applying for graduate registration, to help you get your application right.
You’ll find the video, helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay, and downloadable information flyers including the Quick guide: how to apply on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.
Applying before you finish your studies means we can start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results.
A total of 1,792 practitioners opted in to remain registered on the pandemic response sub-register for another year, continuing to support the health system. These include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists who have opted to extend their registration on the sub-register to 21 September 2023 or apply to transition to the main register for ongoing registration.
Practitioners who were on the sub-register and did not contact Ahpra are no longer registered as of midnight on 21 September 2022. The names of these practitioners were removed from the sub-register; if they wish to continue to be registered, they will need to apply for registration through the standard process.
For more information go to:
Ahpra is committed to making cosmetic surgery safer. Patients who have been harmed by cosmetic surgery can now report their concerns to a hotline. Practitioners who are aware of unsafe cosmetic surgery practices are also encouraged to call.
The hotline and hub are part of the response by Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia to the Independent review into the regulation of medical practitioners who perform cosmetic surgery.
We hold, publish and share data about all registered health practitioners in Australia, including through the public register of health practitioners.
Public consultation on a draft Data strategy is now open. Ahpra is inviting feedback from health practitioners on the future uses of the data we collect and hold, including about three focus areas:
We want to know what you think about including additional information about you and your practice on the public register. We’re also seeking your views on publishing practitioners’ disciplinary history on the public register.
We’re interested in sharing some of the data we hold (where legally allowed and while protecting privacy and confidentiality) to help protect the public, improve access to health services and contribute to patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. We want to hear from you about how we can share, or receive, data to benefit health practitioners and the public.
In addition, we’re consulting on using new data technologies ethically and safely to help make our regulatory work more efficient and effective and streamline practitioners’ interactions with us.
The consultation is open until 31 January 2023. We encourage you to have your say on how we use and share the data we hold about you, where lawful, to protect the public.
To learn more or to make a submission, read the consultation paper and information for practitioners on the Ahpra website.
Our Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. We also publish transcripts of our podcasts.
Recent episodes include:
Download and listen to the latest episode today. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player
Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. Our next issue will be published in December, and you can subscribe on the newsletter web page.
As always, we encourage you to regularly check the Dental Board website for information and updates relating to the dental profession.