14 October 2020

A new registration standard is on its way

ACRRM General Practice RACGP

An overhaul of continuing professional development for health practitioners is being finalised ahead of its submission to Australia’s health ministers.

However, a switch to a new registration standard is still years away.

Recent legislative changes have released medical professionals from their continuing professional development homes by removing the role of colleges in verifying to Services Australia that professionals have met ongoing training requirements.

In practice, they have nowhere else to go until the Medical Board of Australia’s revised registration standard gets the green light from health ministers.

The Medical Board told TMR it was in the process of finalising a new standard.

“Consistent with the required process, the Board will then submit the revised standard to all Australia’s Health Ministers for approval,” it said.

“The Board will ensure there is a long transition and give doctors plenty of notice before the new standard applies.”

The MBA is not committed to a timeframe, but it is understood the system’s implementation is still a couple of years away.

The RACGP currently accredits education providers and administers CPD points for more than 30,000 general practitioners. It charges $945 plus GST for the service as a component of full college membership.

ACRRM, which administers about 5000 members, did not provide a breakdown of CPD fees within its overall fulltime membership fee of $1260.

The shift to a new model means GP colleges can only accredit activities and set standards for practitioners that choose those colleges as their CPD home.

It in theory opens the system to competition from other organisations, new or existing, that want to attract members with cheaper fees.

In a Healthed survey earlier this year, a majority of GPs said they would be very or somewhat likely to use a cheaper alternative for the ongoing administration and allocation of their CPD points.

But in its submission to the Medical Board, obtained by TMR, the RACGP insists a practitioner’s entry and continued registration should remain conditional on membership and active participation within college CPD structures.

“Failure to do so dilutes quality and safety for patients and the community and additionally places the medical practitioner at risk,” the submission says.

The college also argues giving practitioners more CPD home choices is worthy, but that doing so risks the integrity of the existing structure.

It acknowledges the legitimacy of training activities from various sources and has pushed for open access to any activities that might be offered by other CPD homes under the new model, except for highly specialised training.

The college does not back forcing practitioners to take part in more than one CPD program and says the scope of practice for non-vocationally registered doctors would be the best indicator of which CPD home they should join.

It is still unclear whether any prospective non-college CPD homes will hold an accreditation role over CPD activities like the colleges’, or will be merely administrative.

The power over what activities are required for registration has for now reverted to the Medical Board of Australia.

The Australian Medical Council is interested in accrediting new CPD homes and education providers granted under the new standard, but no arrangement has been reached, The Medical Republic understands.

TMR also understands that if appointed, the council would consult on and establish accreditation standards for CPD homes before accrediting any.

Current CPD cycles between medical colleges vary from one year to three, and GPs practitioners will continue training under the current model until the new standard’s rollout.

The RACGP tracks non-compliance under the current model, but in future can only monitor practitioners engaged in its program.

It is unclear how those who choose an alternative CPD home would be monitored or audited.

Fees charged by the college to cover its role as a CPD home could change, and it is investing in technology improvements to its system to better log training activities. It says it is developing new products and services for its members.

“I can’t reveal too much just yet, but can say that we have many exciting announcements to make in the near future,” RACGP Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda told TMR.

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