06 November 2011


Reading the latest figures from the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency, a national body operating under the state statutes known as the Health Practitioner National Law Act 2009.

The AHPRA 2010-11 annual report is claimed as providing -
the first national snapshot of health practitioner registration in Australia. It details the number of registrants in each state and territory by profession and includes detailed data about categories of registration, endorsements on registration and the distribution of practitioners in each profession and in each state and territory.
The report includes information on the introduction of mandatory criminal record checks under the Health Practitioner National Law Act 2009 (now in each state and territory). The 2010-11 is the first time health practitioner criminal record checking has been conducted nationally. Under the regime all applicants for initial registration as a practitioner must undergo a criminal record check, with information being provided to the CrimTrac crim records clearing-house. AHPRA may also seek a report from a police commissioner or an entity in a jurisdiction outside Australia that has access to records about the criminal history of persons in that jurisdiction.. Checking of practitioners may be subsequently undertaken.

Failure to declare a criminal record by a registered health practitioner does not constitute an offence under the Health Practitioner National Law statutes. However, it may constitute behaviour for which a practitioner registration board (eg those concerned with general practitioners, nurses, surgeons, radiologists) "may take health, conduct or performance action".

APHPRA indicates that in 2010-11 the agency requested 52,445 criminal record checks. Of these, 2,992 (6%) of results indicated that the applicant had a criminal history. Of these, 449 (15%) were assessed as having the potential to affect registration. Action by a National Board in relation to 40 of that 449 was -
• one application refused: psychology
• six applications withdrawn (two medical, two psychology, one dental, one pharmacy)
• 31 conditions or undertakings imposed on registration (16 nursing and midwifery, eight medical, four pharmacy, two psychology, one physiotherapy)
• two practitioners had conditions imposed on registration at renewal (one nursing and midwifery, one pharmacy)
AHPRA currently has 140 personnel who are accredited to deal with CrimTrac.

The report offers statistics about practitioners -
• on 30 June 2011 there were 530,115 health practitioners registered in Australia under the national scheme. (Over 46,000 health practitioners have registered since 1 July 2010, many for the first time)
• AHPRA has managed more than 630,000 health practitioner renewals, with some practitioners renewing more than once "in the transition to nationally consistent renewal dates for professions across states and territories"
• nursing and midwifery are the professions with the most practitioners, with 290,072 registered nurses, 1,789 registered midwives and 40,324 practitioners registered as both nurses and midwives
• medical practitioners are the second largest group, with 88,293 registered practitioners followed by psychologists (29,142 practitioners), pharmacists (25,944 practitioners), physiotherapists (22,384 practitioners) and the 18,319 dentists, dental specialists, dental therapists, dental hygienists, oral health therapists and dental prosthetists who make up dental practitioners
• the remaining professions of optometry (4,442 practitioners), chiropractic (4,350 practitioners), podiatry (3,461 practitioners) and osteopathy (1,595 practitioners) make up the balance of Australia’s registered health practitioners
• New South Wales has the largest number of registered practitioners, with 156,104 practitioners across the 10 professions, followed by Victoria (136,651 practitioners) and Queensland (99,200 practitioners)
• the largest group of registered practitioners across the 10 professions is aged 50 – 54 years (72,457 practitioners or 14% of total registrants), followed by practitioners aged 45 – 49 years (65,308 practitioners) and practitioners aged 40 – 44 (65,203 practitioners).
• there are more females than males practising psychology, pharmacy, nursing and midwifery, podiatry and physiotherapy. There are more males than females practicing medicine, chiropractic, dental, optometry and osteopathy
• on 30 June 2011, there were 57,552 practitioners with specialist registration across three professions – medicine (56,012), dental (1,520) and podiatry (20).