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Obligations of Registered Health Practitioners when charged with criminal offences

A question we regularly get asked by medical practitioners charged with a criminal offence is “I am a (doctor, nurse, psychologist, dentist, chiropractor, pharmacist etc), do I have to...

Justin Wong

A question we regularly get asked by medical practitioners charged with a criminal offence is “I am a (doctor, nurse, psychologist, dentist, chiropractor, pharmacist etc), do I have to notify APHRA?”. The answer is almost always, yes.

All Registered Health Practitioners are governed by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) 2009 (NSW). Section 130 of that Act requires all Registered Health Practitioners to notify the National Board of ‘certain events’, which includes:

  1. Being chargedwithan offence carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment, or more.
  1. Being found guilty (regardless of whether convicted) of an offence carrying any term of imprisonment.

Most importantly, the Practitioner must notify the National Board within 7 days (calendar days, not business days) of either of the above. For example:

  1. You are charged with the offence of ‘common assault’ which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 2 years. Even if you dispute your guilt, you must notify the National Board within 7 days of being charged by the police.
  1. You are charged with driving with a ‘first offence’ middle range PCA (mid-range drink driving). This offence carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 9 months. Therefore, you do not need to notify the National Board when charged, but would need to do so within 7 days of pleading guilty or being found guilty.

This rule also applies to a student.

Ordinarily, the easiest way to comply with section 130 is to notify AHPRA using their online portal to ‘submit a concern to AHPRA’ and self-reporting the event.

A failure to notify the National Board of an event under section 130 can satisfy grounds for unsatisfactory professional conduct, resulting in action being taken against registration (for example, a ‘section 150 hearing’), known as ‘disciplinary proceedings’.

It is important to obtain legal advice if charged with any criminal or traffic offences to confirm your obligations under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

This article was written by Streeton Lawyers Senior Associate Adam Faro, who regularly acts for doctors and other registered health practitioners charged with criminal offences. In doing so, Adam, while acting for his client in the criminal proceedings, works closely with various Medical Indemnity Insurers and their referral firms, acting for the client in concurrent disciplinary proceedings.

Photo by Leonid Yastremskiy