Dr Rebecca Mathews MAPS, Manager Practice Standards, National Office
Under the new national registration scheme, members of the public can make a notification (complaint) to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) regarding the conduct, health and performance of a psychologist or a student psychologist. AHPRA is assigned the ability to investigate notifications against health professionals and hence supports the Psychology Board of Australia in managing complaints against psychologists. The process for investigation of notifications against psychologists involves a Preliminary Assessment by AHPRA to determine if the matter will be handled by the Psychology Board or referred to the health complaints entity in each State or Territory.
Recently the APS has received an increasing number of calls from members who have been contacted by AHPRA regarding a ‘notification’ against them. Of concern, members have been asked to provide a generic response to what is a vague complaint. It would be more consistent with principles of natural justice for AHPRA to clearly inform registrants of their alleged wrongdoing and the grounds for the notification. Other members have received requests for client notes when their client happens to be a registered health practitioner who has had a complaint made against them.
The APS is looking into these matters and has sought clarification from the Psychology Board regarding the processes for investigations of psychologists who have had notifications made against them. This information has been placed on the APS website (www.psychology.org.au/practitioner/resources/AHPRA) along with information that is currently on the AHPRA website. However, several issues of concern remain to be clarified, such as how the Psychology Board will ensure that the process meets the principles of natural justice for practitioners and how confidential client information will be protected during the investigation process. Members will be provided with this information as it becomes available.
Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on June 2011. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.