02 Apr 2020
As we continue to face the biggest public health challenge of our lives, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will test our health system and each of us like nothing before it.
While many are caring for sick and frightened patients, some of us will face our own illness and need to care for our families and loved ones. Some will be called on to work in unfamiliar situations where our knowledge and experience are needed most.
Professional judgement will be critical to guide us when resources are limited and demand intense.
The Board and Ahpra understand that the current national emergency presents extreme challenges and we sincerely thank you for your commitment and the care you provide. We know our regulatory approach must be modified to accommodate these exceptional circumstances.
The Board has already started to make a series of pragmatic decisions temporarily modifying some of our regulatory requirements, while maintaining patient safety. These changes are set out below. We have also published responses to questions we’ve been asked, some of which may apply to you.
Our profession has well established behaviours and values set out in the Code of conduct which provides a framework for ethical decision-making in a wide range of situations. You should continue to apply such guidance as far as is practical, recognising these are unique and challenging circumstances.
We must care for our patients and clients, ourselves and each other. In providing care the Board does not expect you to place yourself in harm’s way. Ensuring effective use of personal protective equipment and following relevant infection control requirements and public health advice is key to this.
The Board is aware some health services will be reduced or stopped, including where care cannot be provided in ways that ensure both the practitioner’s and the patient’s safety.
If you know or suspect you are infected, you should follow current public health advice including self-isolating. If you have pre-existing health conditions that increase your risk of infection, you should manage this actively, such as by discussing it with your colleagues, employer or place of work.
The Board has agreed to the following measures. We are closely monitoring the situation and may make further changes as needed.
We encourage you to continue to do continuing professional development (CPD) that is relevant to your practice where possible. The CPD Guidelines include a range of activities that can be undertaken to maintain competence, develop professionally and improve the quality of care you provide relevant to your scope of practice.
Some examples of CPD activities that would not require you to meet in large gatherings or to travel include:
However, we do not want CPD requirements to take practitioners away from clinical care or cause additional concerns to practitioners already under extra pressure due to COVID-19. Accordingly, if you can't meet the CPD standard because of the COVID-19 emergency, then we won't take any action for the registration period during which the COVID-19 emergency is in force.
Should the COVID-19 emergency resolve more quickly than expected, we may issue updated guidance about what CPD the Board would expect to be completed within the current registration period.
The Board understands that many of you may not be able to meet the requirement to have current training in CPR this year as training organisations may not be delivering the training in the current environment. If any component of this training is not current, we encourage you to undertake the training as soon as practicable. You can continue to practise in the meantime.
Further guidance on the Board’s CPD requirements can be found on our website.
As acknowledged above, the Board’s Code of conduct seeks to assist and support chiropractors to deliver safe and effective health services within an ethical framework. Chiropractors are encouraged to apply the good practice guidance available in the Code of conduct including reviewing informed consent, maintaining and securing health records, advertising, insurance and maintaining health and wellbeing.
The Board together with Ahpra and the National Boards have released a joint statement responding to false and misleading advertising on COVID-19.
We recognise that registered health practitioners are working hard to keep people safe in a demanding and fast-changing environment. However, we are seeing some examples of false and misleading advertising which the statement aims to address.
The statement emphasises the importance of registered health practitioners only providing advertising information about COVID-19 that is scientifically accurate and from authoritative sources, such as a state, territory or Commonwealth health department or the World Health Organization. Other than sharing health information from authoritative sources, registered health practitioners should not make advertising claims on preventing or protecting patients and health consumers from contracting COVID-19 or accelerating recovery from COVID-19. To do so involves risk to public safety and may be unlawful advertising.
Practitioners should also ensure that any claims made about training or education undertaken on COVID-19 (such as infection control training) are accurate and not overstated, and do not give the impression their clinic is in any way certified in relation to treatment of COVID-19.
The Australian Government Department of Health provides up-to-date information via the Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert. This is updated daily and includes information on the current status, protection of yourself and others including appropriate infection control measures, and additional advice. There is also advice for the health and aged care sector.
We remind you that you must comply with the Commonwealth and your respective state and territory jurisdictional health directions and guidance about COVID-19.
During these unprecedented times, it is important that all practitioners look after themselves and each other. Information about general support services is available on the Ahpra website.
The Board and Ahpra will provide regular updates on our websites and via email as the situation develops and we respond.
If you have any further concerns or questions about any of this information, please contact us at COVID19@ahpra.gov.au.