Department of Health

Review of Regulation of Health Professions in Victoria 2002–05

Background

The previous Victorian model of health practitioner registration was introduced in 1993–94, with the passage of the Nurses Act 1993 and the Medical Practice Act 1994. Eight new Acts of Parliament were subsequently passed and common core provisions were introduced to regulate the registered health professions. However, not all of the health practitioner registration Acts were updated to incorporate the modern provisions.

In May 2002 the Victorian Parliament passed a series of significant reforms to the Medical Practice Act 1994. These included powers for the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria to regulate:

  • practitioners who may have been performing poorly
  • corporate owners of medical practices.

The review provided the opportunity to consider whether legislation and reforms introduced since 1993–94 in various Acts should be extended to cover all of the registered health professions.

The review was also an opportunity to examine the Victorian model of health practitioner regulation to make sure that the legislative framework:

  • equipped the registration boards to protect the public
  • addressed emerging challenges in the regulation of the health professions.

Following a public announcement by the then Minister for Health, the Hon. John Thwaites MP, the department’s review of the regulation of the health professions began in late 2002.

Objectives of the review

The review’s three main objectives were to:

  • ensure the framework for regulating Victoria’s health professionals was up to date, responsive and equipped health practitioner registration boards to protect the public and address emerging challenges
  • promote consumer and community confidence in the operation of Victoria’s regulatory scheme
  • ensure good links existed between the mechanisms that oversee practitioner quality and those that ensure health system quality.

Principles for reform

The review was guided by the following principles for reform.

Accountability

Registration boards should be accountable to the Victorian community for their decisions and operations.

Transparency

The decision-making processes of registration boards should be open, clear and understandable to both consumers and professionals.

Fairness

Registration boards should maintain an acceptable balance between protecting patients’/consumers’ rights and interests, and those of the regulated health professionals.

Effectiveness

The regulatory system should be effective in protecting the public from harm while supporting and fostering the provision of high-quality care.

Efficiency

The resources expended and the administrative burden imposed by the health professions regulatory system should be justified in terms of the benefits to the Victorian community.

Flexibility

The regulatory system should be able to respond to emerging issues in a timely manner as the healthcare system evolves and the roles and functions of health professionals change.

Consistency

There should be consistency across Australian states and territories in the regulatory arrangements for the health professions.

Discussion paper – October 2003

A 2003 discussion paper provided practitioners, professional associations and interested consumers the opportunity to comment on proposals for the reform of the Victorian health professions regulatory system.

Regulation of the health profession in Victoria: a discussion paper – executive summary

Options paper – April 2005

Following consideration of the issues raised in submissions to the discussion paper, the department released a 2005 options paper with various proposals for structural and legislative reform.

Review of health practitioner regulation in Victoria – options for structural and legislative reform

Consultation – May 2005

To allow interested parties to comment on the issues raised in the discussion paper, the department held a further round of consultation early in May 2005.

Final reforms – July 2005

Following consultation, the proposed reforms were finalised and in-principle approval was granted to begin drafting new legislation.

Various minor reforms were introduced by the Health Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2005, which was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 19 July 2005. These minor reforms were identified through the review process as amendments that could be made immediately to improve the functionality and administration of various boards.

Health Professions Registration Act 2005

However, the key result of the review was the passage of the Health Professions Registration Act 2005, which came into operation on 1 July 2007.

Commissioned research

A range of research projects were commissioned as part of the Review of the Regulation of the Health Professions in Victoria,including:

Study of complainants’ experience of registration boards

Alternative dispute resolution

Inquiry into the Practice of Recovered Memory Therapy

Seventeen submissions were received in response to the review’s discussion paper. In November 2004 the Minister for Health requested the Health Services Commissioner conduct an inquiry into the practice of ‘recovered memory therapy’ in Victoria under s. 9(1)(m) of the Health Services (Conciliation and Review) Act 1987.

Further information:

Inquiry into the Practice of Recovered Memory Therapy

Reviewed 09 September 2015

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