Health Program

The Impaired Registrants Program (referred to as the Health Program) is established under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) to enable Councils to assist practitioners and students who have health issues that may impact upon their practice.

The Program is designed to protect the public while maintaining the impaired registrant’s ability to practise (or the student’s ability to undertake clinical training), when it is safe to do so.

The Program is notification based and manages registrants and students suffering from psychiatric illnesses, problems with the abuse of alcohol or the self-administration of addictive drugs, and occasionally, physical illnesses.

Impairment has a specific, statutory definition.  A practitioner is impaired if they have a physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence) that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect their capacity to practise, or for a student, the student's capacity to undertake clinical training.  Illness does not necessarily equate to impairment. If an unwell practitioner is insightful and practises within their residual capacity, and is being safely managed and supported, then they are not necessarily impaired for the Council's purposes. For example, registrants with a mental health disorder who are stable and being adequately managed may not be considered impaired by the Council. Psychiatric illness where the registrant may have little insight or is not being appropriately managed and drug and alcohol abuse are likely to be of concern to the Council.

When a credible notification is received, the registrant will be assessed by a Council-nominated practitioner to determine the extent and nature of their impairment. The practitioner’s report is considered by the Council and if necessary, the practitioner may be required to meet with the Council's Impaired Registrants Panel. The panel consists of a medical practitioner and one or two registered practitioners and manages health issues in a constructive and non-disciplinary manner.  The Panel seeks the agreement of the health professional through interview and discussion and makes written recommendations to the Council about any action considered necessary. The most common outcome is conditions on the registrant's registration, although on occasions, it may be necessary for the registrant to be suspended for a period of time.

Should the practitioner not be considered to have an impairment there may be no further action taken.

The Council monitors compliance with conditions, which may include urine drug screening, regular reviews and assessments. Registrants are expected to fully comply with their conditions of registration so as to assure the Council that they pose no risk to the public.

As the registrant demonstrates progress in rehabilitation and recovery, the conditions on their registration are gradually relaxed. While return to unconditional practice is a goal of the program, some practitioners, for example those with recurring psychiatric illness, may remain on the program indefinitely, albeit with low level, occasional reviews by the Council/panel.