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National Code of Conduct for Healthcare Workers to be implemented

COAG (Council of Australian Governments) has agreed to proceed with implementation of a new National Code of Conduct for Health Care Workers who are not regulated by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency). This decision followed and extensive consultation process from 2011 to 2014, in which PACFA participated.

Health Ministers who met in April to consider the final report on the consultation process noted that while the vast majority of unregistered health care workers practise in a safe, competent and ethical manner, “there are however, a small proportion of unregistered health care workers who present a serious risk to the public because they are incompetent, impaired or they engage in exploitative, predatory and illegal conduct such that if they were a registered health practitioner, would result in cancellation of their registration and removal of their right to practise”. The report notes that code-regulation regimes are already operating in three states: NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

In releasing this report, Ministers agreed to the terms of the first National Code of Conduct for health care workers, a copy of which is available for download at the PACFA website.

The National Code will set standards of conduct and practice for all unregistered health care workers. Ministers agreed to use their best endeavours to give effect to the National Code and code-regulation regime, noting  that  those  jurisdictions with  existing schemes will consider adjustments to  their codes  and  arrangements  to  achieve national consistency. Ministers also agreed to a policy framework to underpin nationally consistent implementation of the National Code and code-regulation regime.

A common web portal will be developed and a nationally consistent suite of explanatory materials to support the National Code. This work will be led by the Australian Health Complaints Commissioners. There will also be a common framework for the collection and reporting of data and for annual performance reporting to the COAG Health Council. There will be an independent review of the national code-regulation regime after five years, or earlier at the request of Health Ministers. The Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) will oversee the joint work required to give effect to these arrangements.

At this stage, it is not known when implementation of the new National Code will commence but PACFA will keep practitioners informed of any news.

A copy of the Final Report – A National Code of Conduct for health care workers is available at www.coaghealthcouncil.gov.au/NationalCodeOfConductForHealthCareWorkers.