COVID-19 response

On this page:

 


Council websites

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Council

Chinese Medicine Council

Chiropractic Council

Dental Council

Medical Council

Medical Radiation Practice Council

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Occupational Therapy Council

Optometry Council

Osteopathy Council

Paramedicine Council

Pharmacy Council

Physiotherapy Council 

Podiatry Council

Psychology Council


 

COVID-19 response

The HPCA and NSW health professional Councils understand the current widespread concerns regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As a health regulator, we are considered an essential service at this time and are continuing to operate.

However the way we operate is changing in a rapidly evolving situation.

We have taken steps to help contain and manage the risks associated with COVID -19 for our people, while continuing to fulfil our key responsibility of protecting public health and safety through the regulation of health practitioners in NSW.

We are committed to working in a flexible and fair way. This is particularly important at a time when the community needs to be confident in the standards and professionalism of health practitioners, especially when these practitioners face intense pressure to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

Complaints about health practitioners can still be lodged online and you can continue to call the HPCA if you would like to discuss your concerns.

The changes in our work arrangements and prioritisation of serious matters may lead to some delays in our response times, or action may take longer than usual.

We have moved to conducting business online via conferencing (video and teleconferencing) and remote work arrangements as far as possible instead of face to face meetings, interviews, hearings and panels.

We continue to promote precautions including good hygiene, cleaning, social distancing and containment of those who are unwell or need to self-isolate.

National Coronavirus Helpline

Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1800 020 080

If you need public health guidance and information on COVID-19, please refer to the NSW Health website.

 

Message for Health Practitioners

The HPCA and Councils appreciate the added pressures on many health practitioners as they respond to COVID-19. As such, Councils will consider the individual circumstances of practitioners. If you require special consideration please contact the officer listed in our correspondence to you ASAP or phone the HPCA.

Medical practitioners – 02 9879 2200

Other health practitioners – 1300 197 177

Upcoming hearings or assessments for practitioners, where possible, are being conducted by video, teleconference or on the papers.

Any case requiring a face to face component will require all parties to answer the questions:

  1. Have you returned from overseas travel within the last 14 days?
  2. Have you been in close contact with a person with COVID-19?
  3. Do you have any cold or flu-like symptoms?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, you must not participate in any face to face to face activities. Please be proactive in notifying us immediately if any of the above situation apply to you so that we can make alternative arrangements.

As well as changed work arrangements for the HPCA and Councils, some of the people and organisations that we work with have been affected by the pandemic. In particular, some drug testing collection centres, education providers, supervisors and mentors, and health and performance assessment facilities are affected.

 

Practitioners with conditions

Practitioners are expected to comply with requirements as stated in your conditions. If you become aware of, or are informed by any of your Council approved practitioners that they are unable to perform their role on behalf of the Council, please advise your monitoring officer immediately. 

 

If you need to self-isolate

Please follow NSW Health guidelines for self-isolation and management of COVID-19 and do not attend for drug and/or alcohol screening or any face to face meetings such as mentoring, education/courses or supervision.

On the first day of your self-isolation, please email your monitoring officer and indicate if you are not working or engaged in remote work such as telehealth while self-isolating. Conditions still apply to any practice during self-isolation. If you are:

  • employed – include written correspondence from your employer(s) confirming the date you began to self-isolate and your expected return to practice date.
  • self-employed or not working – include any supporting documentation which confirms the date you began your self-isolation and your expected return to practice/study.
  • a student – include written correspondence from your university confirming the date you began to self-isolate and your expected return to study date.

If you cannot attend screening or are required to work onsite with other practitioners or require onsite supervision (for example category A or category B supervision) you must not practise in any form.

On the last day of your self-isolation please email your monitoring officer to inform them of this and include written confirmation from your employer(s)/university that you are returning to practice/study the next day. If you are self-employed or not working within 48 hours of your self-isolation ending, please email your monitoring officer supporting documentation such as a statutory declaration confirming the date your self-isolation ended. If you are subject to urine drug and/or alcohol screening conditions you must also attend for screening no later than the next business day.

If you have any concerns about meeting the requirements of your conditions or have any questions please contact your monitoring officer by email:

Medical practitioners – medicalcouncil.monitoring@mcnsw.org.au

Other health practitioners – HPCA-Monitoring@health.nsw.gov.au

 

Services temporarily affected by COVID-19

Drug and alcohol screening collection centres

Some Council approved collection centres are temporarily closed because they have been designated as coronavirus testing centres. We have been advised this currently affects only a small number of centres but this may change at short notice.

For up to date information about centres affected by these closures please check the collection centre’s website before attending for screening.

If you do not have an accessible collection centre please contact your monitoring officer as soon as possible to discuss.

Medical practitioners – medicalcouncil.monitoring@mcnsw.org.au

Other health practitioners - HPCA-Monitoring@health.nsw.gov.au

Course providers/education training

Some courses and education training programs are temporarily not offered because of the social distancing measures put in place to minimise the transmission of the coronavirus.

If you are affected by these circumstances, please contact your monitoring officer as soon as possible to discuss.

Medical practitioners – medicalcouncil.monitoring@mcnsw.org.au

Other health practitioners – HPCA-Monitoring@health.nsw.gov.au

Conditions which require face to face meetings with Council approved practitioners and Council appointed delegates

Some conditions require practitioners to meet face to face with Council approved practitioner(s) such as supervisors, mentors, psychiatrists, senior medical practitioner or Council appointed delegates, for instance auditors or reviewers. You may not be able to meet with your supervisor face to face because of the social distancing measures put in place to minimise the transmission of the coronavirus.

We are exploring ways for such meetings to proceed while still meeting social distancing requirements. For example, supervision in some circumstances may be possible via video or teleconference. If you are affected by these circumstances, please contact your monitoring officer as soon as possible to discuss.

Medical practitioners – medicalcouncil.monitoring@mcnsw.org.au

Other health practitioners – HPCA-Monitoring@health.nsw.gov.au

 

HPCA is no longer accepting payment by cheque or money order.  All payments, including for GIPA Act applications and subpoenas, must be made by bank transfer. Credit card facilities are being implemented but are not yet available. 

Payment is to be made to the following account:

Account name: HPCA main account BSB: 032 000 Account number: 802 675

When making the payment please include the following information:

  • Payee name
  • Descriptor, e.g. “Subpoena issued by {name of Court}” or “GIPA Application”
  • Abbreviated name of relevant Council:

Name                                                                                                    Abbrev

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Council   ATSI
  • Chinese Medicine Council                                                         CMed
  • Chiropractic Council                                                                   Chiro
  • Dental Council                                                                            Dent
  • Medical Council                                                                          MC
  • Medical Radiation Practice Council                                            MRP
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council                                                   NMC
  • Occupational Therapy Council                                                   OT
  • Optometry Council                                                                      Opt
  • Osteopathy Council                                                                    Osteo
  • Paramedicine Council                                                                 Para
  • Pharmacy Council                                                                       Pharm
  • Physiotherapy Council                                                                 Physio
  • Podiatry Council                                                                           Pod
  • Psychology Council                                                                      Psych

 

FAQ’s in response to Covid-19

Registration

1. What is the pandemic response sub-register?

The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (Ahpra) and a number of National Boards have established a pandemic response sub-register to fast track the return to the workforce of experienced and qualified health practitioners in some professions. This currently includes medical practitioners, nurses and midwives and pharmacists. Visit Ahpra’s website for more information about the pandemic response sub-register.

 

Not currently registered

2. I am not currently registered. How do I apply for registration?

Apply directly through Ahpra for registration with the relevant national health practitioner board.

3. I am not currently registered but when I was last registered I was on a health professional Council’s health program and/or I had an outstanding performance assessment. How do I apply for registration?

As above, you must apply directly through Ahpra or registration with the relevant National health practitioner Board. Ahpra will liaise with the Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) about any outstanding matters for consideration by the relevant National health practitioner Board.  

4. Is there a fast-track process for registration to help with the COVID-19 response?

Applications for registrations should be made directly to Ahpra. Further information can be found on the Ahpra website by following this link.

 

Suspended practitioner

5. My registration was suspended by a health professional Council under section 150 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) (National Law). How can I get the suspension removed?

You can seek a review of the suspension under section 150A of the National Law. The HPCA and Councils are aware of the added pressure this pandemic has placed on health practitioners. Councils will consider your individual circumstances on review. Please be aware that a NSW health professional Council may only vary or set aside a decision if it is satisfied that there has been a change in your circumstances that justifies the variation or setting aside of the decision.

You can also seek to appeal the suspension at NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Appeals must be made within 28 days of you being told about the suspension decision (not 28 days of receiving the written reasons).

Practitioners are encouraged to seek independent legal advice on the suitability of each option.

6. My registration was suspended by NCAT and I want to apply for registration.

If your period of suspension has passed, you should contact Ahpra for information relevant to your registration.

If your period of suspension has not ended, please seek independent legal advice on how to appeal NCAT’s decision.

 

Cancelled practitioner

7. My registration was cancelled by NCAT and the preclusion period has passed. How do I apply for registration?

You will need to apply for a reinstatement order from NCAT. The reinstatement order will enable you to apply for registration from the relevant National health practitioner Board.

To progress with your application for a reinstatement order, please email a completed copy of this NCAT form to HPCA-Mail@health.nsw.gov.au, addressing it to the Executive Officer of the applicable health professional council.

 

Disqualified practitioner

8. I am disqualified from being registered as a health practitioner by NCAT and I want to apply for registration.

You will need to apply for a reinstatement order from NCAT. The reinstatement order will enable you to apply for registration from the relevant National health practitioner Board.

To progress with your application for a reinstatement order, please email a completed copy of this NCAT form to HPCA-Mail@health.nsw.gov.au, addressing it to the Executive Officer of the applicable health professional council.

 

Conditions

9. I have conditions imposed on my registration by a health professional council under section 150 of the National Law. Can I have the conditions removed?

You must comply with the conditions on your registration. The COVID-19 pandemic does NOT provide an excuse for non-compliance.

You can contact your monitoring officer and seek guidance about how to apply for a review of the conditions under section 150A of the National Law by the relevant health professional Council.

The HPCA and Councils are aware of the added pressure this pandemic has placed on health practitioners. Councils will consider your individual circumstances on review. Please be aware that a Council may only vary or set aside a decision if it is satisfied that there has been a change in the practitioner’s circumstances that justifies the variation or setting aside of the decision.

You can also seek to appeal the conditions at NCAT. Appeals must be made within 28 days of you being told about the decision to impose conditions (not 28 days of receiving the written reasons).

Further information about registration conditions can be found via this link on our website.

Practitioners are encouraged to seek independent legal advice on the suitability of each option.

10. I have conditions imposed on my registration by NCAT. How can I have the conditions removed?

You can seek a review of your conditions with the appropriate review body identified in the decision imposing the conditions. If no review body is specified then it is NCAT.

You can also seek to appeal NCAT’s decision to impose conditions.

Practitioners are encouraged to seek independent legal advice on the suitability of each option.

 

Complaints

1. I would like to make a complaint. Where do I direct my complaint?

Complaints must be submitted using our online complaint form. Because our offices are temporarily closed as a result of COVID-19, we cannot accept complaints by post. You can continue to contact the HPCA by referring to the contact information on our website.

2. Are you still able to respond quickly to complaints against practitioners – especially serious complaints?

We have adjusted our internal processes in response to the changes in working arrangements to ensure we are actioning complaints as quickly as possible. There are currently no delays but there will be some change in the way we liaise with practitioners such as by holding hearings via video conference. We will be in contact with you if there are any changes to the way we are actioning your complaint. Otherwise, we are considering complaints in the usual way according to the seriousness of the issues raised.

3. I would like to submit my documents to Council. Where do I send it?

Because our offices are temporarily closed and our staff are working remotely in response to COVID-19, we cannot process posted documents or accept courier deliveries. All documents must be submitted electronically to the relevant team or staff member at HPCA. If you have made a complaint, a HPCA staff member will be in contact to provide details on how to submit your documents.

4. I am the subject of a complaint and need more time to respond to the request for submissions, information and/or documents.

Each complaint will be managed according to its seriousness. If you need an extension of time to provide responses, information or documents, please inform your case manager or program officer and explain your reasons for seeking the extension. Your request will be considered based on the reasons you have provided.

5. I am the subject of a complaint. Will there be delays with the resolution of my case?

We have adjusted our internal processes in response to the changes in working arrangements to ensure we continue to resolve cases in the usual time frame. There are currently no delays but there will be some change in the way we liaise with practitioners such as by holding hearings via video conference. We will be in contact with you if there are any changes to the way we are handling your case. Otherwise, the consideration of your case will progress as usual.

 

Meetings and Hearings

1. How will meetings and hearings be convened between practitioners and a health professional Council?

Meetings and hearings will be convened by video conferencing, with the option of teleconferences. You will need to have a device that is connected to the internet or your telephone to access the meeting or hearing. Some matters may be conducted on the papers. However, please note that you will be notified by email of any meetings and hearings concerning you.

2. Are meetings and hearings held by video conference confidential and secure? Will it be recorded?

Meetings and hearings are currently convened by Skype for Business or Pexip and attendance is by invitation only. For more information, please review the security details for Skype for business and Pexip. Section 150 hearings will be recorded as required by section 150B of the National Law. Other meetings are not routinely recorded.

3. Can I be present at a section 150A or section 150C review to speak to the Council members?

Yes, by video conference and teleconference.

Please notify your case manager or program officer that you wish to be present and HPCA staff will assist. 

4. What are the options if video-conferencing fails – how do we manage those hearings?

If video conferencing fails the meeting will be conducted via teleconference or it will be rescheduled.

 

Compliance with conditions and performance assessments

1. My registration is subject to conditions, do I still have to comply?

Yes. 

Conditions are imposed to protect the public and you must comply with all the conditions on your registration. If you become aware or are informed by your supervisor, mentor or other relevant approved practitioners that they are unable to perform functions that are necessary under the conditions, you should immediately advise your monitoring officer.

2. I am scheduled to undertake a Performance Assessment at my place of practice. Will this proceed?

Please contact your case manager or monitoring officer to discuss your situation with them.

3. I have been directed to self-isolate and I am not employed. Do I need to attend drug and/or alcohol screening or any face to face meetings such as mentoring, education, courses or supervision?

Please follow the NSW Health guidelines for self-isolation and management of COVID-19 and do not attend for drug and/or alcohol screening or any face to face meetings such as mentoring, education/courses or supervision.

If you have been directed to self-isolate you must also take further steps in regards to your conditions. For the full details, please visit our COVID-19 response webpage, under the heading ‘If you need to self-isolate’.

4. I have been directed to self-isolate and I am still working; for instance providing consultations by tele-health. Do I need to attend drug and/or alcohol screening or any face to face meetings such as mentoring, education, courses or supervision?
 

Please follow the NSW Health guidelines for self-isolation and management of COVID-19 and do not attend for drug and/or alcohol screening or any face to face meetings such as mentoring, education/courses or supervision.

If you intend to work remotely while self-isolating, you must follow the steps set out on our COVID-19 response webpage, under the heading ‘If you need to self-isolate’.

 

NCAT

1. I would like to appeal a decision of Council are there any changes to NCAT’s processes that I need to know about?

Information about temporary changes to NCAT’s operations is available on their website.