When we agree with the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) that disciplinary action is not warranted, but there may be performance issues to address, the complaint is referred to our performance program. This constructive and non-disciplinary program is focused on education and retraining to address gaps in clinical performance, while making sure the public is safe. It is designed to address patterns of practice rather than one-off incidents, although sometimes a single incident reflects a wider problem.
We expect all registered health practitioners to understand and meet the standards set for their profession. More detail is published on our website and on the National Board's website, accessible through the AHPRA website.
The professional performance of a registered health practitioner is considered unsatisfactory if it is below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience.
There are many different causes of poor performance. Two of the most common contributing factors are professional isolation and inadequate continuing professional development. Sometimes, health practitioners have the knowledge they need but find it difficult to apply it to their day-to-day practice. Sometimes there are other reasons for short or long term poor performance, such as illness and financial stress.
The performance program relies on people with concerns telling us about practitioners who are poorly performing. Employers are often in a good position to identify poor performance and it is useful for them to deal with issues locally and constructively, before getting us involved.
Sometimes practitioners are referred to the performance program as a result of a complaint or a series of complaints that indicate a pattern of concern.
While there is no statutory requirement to notify us about a poorly performing practitioner, employers have an ethical and professional responsibility to ensure practitioners are providing safe care to their patients.
What happens when we receive a complaint about professional performance
We may refer a practitioner for a performance assessment. This is usually conducted by one or more suitably qualified peer practitioners.
If a performance assessment finds that a practitioner’s performance is unsatisfactory, we will identify the areas of concern and may do one or more of the following:
- require you to attend:
- a counselling interview
- a performance interview
- a Performance Review Panel to inquire into your professional performance
- an Impaired Registrant’s Panel to inquire into your health and well-being
- seek your voluntary agreement to conditions or orders
- make a complaint about you to the Health Care Complaints Commission
- consider whether to take immediate action under section 150 of the National Law (NSW) for the safety of the public
We expect practitioners in the performance program to comply with all the conditions on their registration, so we can be sure they return to safe practice.