National law changes bring WA in line with other states, territories

Tuesday, 28 May, 2024

National law changes bring WA in line with other states, territories

Health practitioner regulation and public protection have been further strengthened in Western Australia following the passage and enactment of changes to the National Law as it applies in the state.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Application Act contains a suite of changes, including protecting the title ‘surgeon’ when used by medical practitioners.

The Act brings Western Australia into greater alignment with the other states and territories and continues to build a system of practitioner regulation which has patient safety at its heart. It also establishes a mechanism for WA to adopt any future changes to the National Law, while retaining the ability to make modifications and disallow amendments as necessary.

The changes also allow the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards to issue a statement warning the public about individual practitioners, when there is a serious, unmanaged risk to public health and safety. Most of these changes have started, with some to start later this year on a date to be agreed by governments.

Ahpra Chief Executive Martin Fletcher said the WA Bill was important to ensure health practitioner regulation is more consistent across Australia in the interests of patient safety.

Fletcher said this legislation also recognises the unique needs of the WA community and health sector, while enabling an efficient mechanism to apply any future changes to the National Law.

Mandatory reporting obligations for all WA registered health practitioners have not changed.

Professor Mark Edwards, Chair of the WA Board of the Medical Board of Australia, said the amendments highlight the crucial role that regulators play in creating public value, minimising harm and protecting the community.

These amendments ensure Western Australia remains in step with the National Law as applied in other jurisdictions and has built in flexibility to respond to local needs, Edwards said.

Michelle Dillon, Chair Nursing and Midwifery Board WA, said, “Health workforce challenges are a strong focus for all of us. With more than 48,000 registered nurses and midwives in WA, we know there are efforts underway to make the journey into our health system easier for overseas graduates, as well as to explore ways to boost workforces in regional and rural areas. These amendments will support this important body of work.”

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