Penalties for offences committed by people who hold themselves out to be a registered health practitioner when not registered will be strengthened, as will penalties for those who use reserved professional titles or carry out restricted practices when not registered.
Federal, State and Territory Health Ministers attending the COAG Health Council Meeting in August, agreed to proceed with amendments to the National Law to strengthen the penalties and to proceed with an amendment to introduce a custodial sentence with a maximum term of up to three years for these offences.
The reforms will be fast tracked to strengthen public protection under the National Law. Preparation is to begin on a draft amendment bill, with a view to being introduced to the Queensland Parliament in 2018.
Ministers also discussed mandatory reporting provisions for treating health practitioners, agreeing that protecting the public from harm is of paramount importance, as is supporting practitioners to seek help and treatment for their health concerns, including for their mental health and well-being.
They agreed practitioners should be able to confidentially seek treatment for health issues while preserving the requirement for patient safety. It was agreed that the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council will recommend a nationally consistent approach to mandatory reporting following a consultation process with consumer and practitioner groups. A proposal on mandatory reporting is expected to be considered at the November 2017 meeting of the COAG Health Council.