Ahpra responds to review of notifications confidentiality safeguards

18 June 2020

In late 2018, Ahpra asked the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner (NHPOPC) to conduct an independent review of the confidentiality safeguards in place for individuals making notifications about registered health practitioners. 

While NHPOPC found that Ahpra’s current approach offers reasonable safeguards for notifiers and was consistent with the practices of other regulators, it did suggest that improvements could be made. 

Ten recommendations were handed down to to strengthen the protection of notifiers from risks of harm, all of which have been accepted by ahpra which has committed to implementing them in the following ways: 

Consideration of confidentiality safeguards for notifiers (Recommendation 1) 
Ahpra will make several adjustments to improve the process with a policy to be developed by 31 July 2020 and in place by 30 September 2020. 

Improvements to the administrative management of confidential and anonymous notifications (Recommendations 2-5) 
A review has begun of Ahpra’s Privacy Policy and statement on the collection and use of information, and documents relating to notifications. A draft of a revised Privacy Policy and collection statement will be developed before 30 June 2020 and will be published and operationalised with our teams by 1 July 2020. 

Improvements to communication about privacy and confidentiality for notifiers (Recommendations 6-7) 
All relevant communications are under review to ensure consistency and transparency in the way in which Ahpra communicates with notifiers. This review includes consideration of the information and pathways available to notifiers through our online notification portal, as well as all online guidance and fact sheets that relate to the notifications process. This will be completed by 31 December 2020. 

Consequences for practitioners who harm, threaten, intimidate, harass or coerce notifiers (Recommendations 8-9) 
Ahpra will develop guidance for staff on how to identify and flag potential harassment or intimidation of notifiers by a practitioner. Ahpra will consult with the Professional Reference Group, Community Reference Group and professional indemnity providers before any change to current processes with guidance drafted by 30 June 2020 and made operational by 30 September 2020. 

Managing the risk of vexatious notifications (Recommendation 10) 
Ahpra will publish a new guide for staff by 31 July 2020 and consult with the Professions Reference Group, Community Reference Group and professional indemnity providers before operationalising the advice by 30 September 2020. 

For full details of Ahpra's response, please go to "Ahpra's response to NHPOPC recommendations"