Third statement from National Boards and Ahpra

02 Apr 2020

As we continue to face the biggest public health challenge of our lives, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will test our health system and each of us like nothing before it.

While many are caring for sick and frightened patients, some of us will face our own illness and need to care for our families and loved ones. Some will be called on to work in unfamiliar situations where our knowledge and experience are needed most.

Professional judgement will be critical to guide us when resources are limited and demand intense.

The Board and Ahpra understand that the current national emergency presents extreme challenges and we sincerely thank you for your commitment and the care you provide. We know our regulatory approach must be modified to accommodate these exceptional circumstances.

The Board has already started to make a series of pragmatic decisions, temporarily modifying some of our regulatory requirements while maintaining patient safety. These changes are set out below. We have also published responses to questions we’ve been asked, some of which may apply to you.

Our profession has well-established behaviours and values which provide a framework for ethical decision-making in a wide range of situations. You should continue to apply such guidance as far as is practical, recognising these are unique and challenging circumstances.

We must care for our patients and clients, ourselves and each other. In providing care the Board does not expect you to place yourself in harm’s way. Ensuring effective use of personal protective equipment and following relevant infection control requirements and public health advice is key to this.

The Board is aware some health services will be reduced or stopped, including where care cannot be provided in ways that ensure both the practitioner’s and the patient’s safety.

During these unprecedented times, it is important that all practitioners look after themselves and each other. Information about general support services is available on the Ahpra website.

If you know or suspect you are infected, you should follow current public health advice including self-isolating. If you have pre-existing health conditions that increase your risk of infection, you should manage this actively, such as by discussing it with your colleagues, employer or place of work.

The Australian Government Department of Health provides up-to-date information on COVID-19 including:

We remind you that you must comply with the Commonwealth and your respective state and territory jurisdictional health directions and guidance about COVID-19.

The Board has agreed to the following measures. We are closely monitoring the situation and may make further changes as needed.

Continuing professional development

The COVID-19 emergency is impacting on registered health practitioners’ CPD in various ways, including where CPD events or leave are cancelled. National Boards encourage practitioners to continue CPD relevant to their practice where possible. However, we do not want CPD requirements to take practitioners away from clinical care or cause additional concerns to practitioners already under extra pressure due to COVID-19. Accordingly, if a practitioner can't meet the CPD standard because of the COVID-19 emergency, then we won't take any action for the registration period during which the COVID-19 emergency is in force, without the need to apply for exemption.

However, if the COVID-19 emergency resolves more quickly than expected, we may issue updated guidance about what CPD National Boards would expect to be completed within the current registration period.

The Board recognises that learning can occur through a wide variety of CPD activities that would not require you to meet in large gatherings or to travel, this could include online platforms.

Further CPD resources can be found on the Board’s website.

First aid certificate

The Board’s CPD registration standard requires you to hold a senior first aid certificate. However, these courses have been postponed by private providers, including the CPR component of the course which has to be done in person. Some aspects of the course may be able to be done online. The Board will be flexible during the pandemic and asks you to complete the senior first aid certificate component when there is no longer an unnecessary risk involved in participating in a course.

Infection control

Please continue to comply with the Board’s Guidelines for infection prevention and control, available on our website.

The Commonwealth Government has created COVID-19 Infection Control Training which you can do online.

Other practical suggestions include:

  • cleaning and disinfecting treatment tables after every treatment as if there was a contamination
  • cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, e.g. doorknobs and light switches, and
  • practising hand hygiene.

Recency of practice

The Board will consider taking a flexible approach for those unable to work in their normal clinical roles during the pandemic, and who as a result may work less than 450 hours over a three-year period.


 
 
Page reviewed 2/04/2020