All health professionals are required to behave lawfully.

The legislation which governs the practice of registered health practitioners in New South Wales is the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW). There are sections in this legislation that applies to all health professionals and some parts that are specific to certain areas of practice.

New South Wales legislation may be accessed directly by going to www.legislation.nsw.gov.au and selecting the legislation “in force”. 

Changes to the Law from 1 November 2015 – Mandatory provision of information to complainants and employers

In November 2014 the NSW Parliament passed the Health Practitioner Regulation Legislation Amendment Act 2014.  That legislation made a range of amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) (the National Law) including amendments requiring the various health professional Councils to 

inform complainants of the outcome from their complaints (section 145BA), and 
provide employers with information about any conditions imposed by a Council on a practitioner’s registration (section 176BA).  

These provisions came into effect on 1 November 2015.

The government’s policy basis for the amendments included adding transparency to the complaints process, as well as promoting public safety and the broader public interest by ensuring that employers would be aware of conditions on their employed practitioners’ registration. 

Notifying complainants – Section 145BA
Section 145BA requires Councils to give the original complainant notice advising of the outcome of their complaint.  Notice is to be given when a Council manages a complaint by way of 

a Council Inquiry (NB the Medical and Nursing & Midwifery Councils do not conduct these inquiries and utilise Professional Standards Committees instead),
an independent assessment, 
direct referral to an Impaired Registrants Panel without a preliminary assessment,
referral to another body, or
by deciding to take no further action.

While Councils are required to notify of these actions and the outcome they are not required to notify of the detail of any conditions that may be imposed nor are they required to provide complainants with the written reasons for decision or any confidential reports prepared for the purposes of their processes. The only exception to this rule is in the case of a Council Inquiry where Councils are required by section 148H of the National Law to provide the complainant with a copy of the written reasons for decision.

Of course any condition or other information that is recorded on the national register of practitioners is publicly available and complainants will have access to that information. 

Notifying employers – Section 176BA
Following commencement of section 176BA Councils will be required to notify a practitioner’s employer or employers (this includes licensed private health facilities that have accredited a practitioner to provide services) whenever the Council:

imposes conditions on the practitioner’s registration, 
amends conditions on the practitioner’s registration, and 
removes conditions on the practitioner’s registration.   

Note that the legislative obligation under s176BA is limited to decisions made by a Council.  The obligation does not include decisions made by a Performance Review Panel, a Professional Standards Committee, or the Tribunal as conditions, suspensions and cancellations arising out of these processes are almost invariably published on the publicly available national register of practitioners at www.ahpra.gov.au 

The composition of the Councils, infection control standards, record keeping requirements for medical practitioners and other relevant matters are set out in the Health Practitioner Regulation (New South Wales) Regulation 2016.

In June 2012, the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 came into effect. This Act makes miscellaneous amendments to various Acts that relate to health and various matters. 

The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) is now in effect, having commenced on 1 July 2010. It replaced the Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

Earlier versions of legislation, since 1990, are also archived on this site. State and Commonwealth legislation may be accessed at the website of the Australasian Legal Information Institute, www.austlii.edu.au

Other New South Wales legislation includes:

Health Care Complaints Act 1993
This legislation applies to dealing with complaints concerning health professionals.

Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966
Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008
This legislation relates to the regulation, control and prohibition of the supply and use of poisons, restricted substances, drugs of addiction, certain dangerous drugs and certain therapeutic goods.  

Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002
Health Records and Information Privacy Code of Practice 2005
Health Records and Information Privacy Regulation 2012
This legislation commenced on 1 September 2012 and replaces the 2006 legislation.

This legislation protects, with certain exceptions, the privacy of an individual’s health information that is held in the public and private sectors.

Human Tissue Act 1983
Human Tissue Regulation 2005
This legislation establishes parameters relating, among other things, to donations of body fluids, the use of surgically removed tissue for therapeutic or research purposes, organ donation and transplantation.

Public Health Act 2010
This legislation relates to the maintenance of proper standards of health for the public; and for other purposes.

Mental Health Act 2007
This legislation is to make provision with respect to the care, treatment and control of mentally ill and mentally disordered persons and other matters relating to mental health; and for other purposes.  

Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
This legislation relates to the provision of care and protection of children and young persons at risk in New South Wales. It outlines the guiding principles in child protection and early intervention. 

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
This legislation provides for the protection of personal information, and for the protection of the privacy of individuals generally.

Copies of New South Wales legislation

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