The Impaired Registrants Program (referred to as the Health Program) enables 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 manages registrants and students suffering from impairments such as psychiatric illnesses, problems with the abuse of alcohol or drugs, and occasionally, physical or neurological conditions.
Impairment has a specific, statutory definition. A practitioner is impaired if he or she has 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 has little insight or is not being appropriately managed, and drug and alcohol abuse, are more likely to be of concern to the Council.
When a notification is received, the Council will organise for the practitioner to be assessed by a Council-appointed health practitioner to determine whether he or she has an impairment and if so, the nature and extent. The Council-appointed health practitioner’s report will be considered by the Council and, where appropriate, arrangements made for the practitioner to meet with the Council's Impaired Registrants Panel.
The Panel consists of a medical practitioner and one or two registered practitioners, who manage health issues in a confidential and non-disciplinary manner. If the Panel comes to the view that the practitioner has an impairment and that restrictions on practice, or suspension of registration is necessary to protect the public, it will seek the practitioner’s agreement to the particular course of action. Subsequently, the Panel will provide a written report to the Council including whether the practitioner agreed with the Panel’s recommendations. The most common outcome is that the practitioner will agree to practise in accordance with conditions on their registration, although on occasions, agreement to a suspension of registration for a period of time may occur.
Should the practitioner not be considered to have an impairment, the Panel may recommend that no further action be taken or that the matter that originally led to action under the Health Program be managed under the performance or conduct pathways.
The Council monitors compliance with conditions, which may include urine drug screening, testing for alcohol consumption, regular reviews and assessments. Practitioners are expected to fully comply with their conditions of registration to assure the Council that they don’t pose a risk to the public.
As practitioners demonstrate progress in rehabilitation and recovery, 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.
Information for Practitioners on the Health Program
Policy for Urinalysis (Urine Drug Testing UDT)
Protocol for Carbohydrate-Deficient Transferrin (CDT)
Protocol for Urine Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG)
Health Committee Decision Making Framework
Notification of Nominated Urine Drug Testing UDT Supervisor Form