International Health Worker Registrations Grow
The number of internationally trained practitioners arriving to work in Australia is rising back to pre-pandemic levels, supporting a surge in graduates and bolstering the nation’s largest ever health workforce.
A 41 percent increase in International Medical Graduates registrations in 2021–2022 saw 2985 overseas trained doctors undergo vital qualification and safety checks to work in Australia, matching the levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic shut international borders.
The number of Internationally Qualified Nurses and Midwives registered also rose 35 percent over the past year, with 4629 recruits arriving in 2021–2022 directly through the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia processes or via the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition arrangement. The international nursing and midwifery registrations are now approaching the pre-pan-demic level of 5/753 international registrations in 2018-2019.
With record levels of practitioner graduates also registered last year, Australia’s health workforce has swelled beyond 850,000 practitioners for the first time and is now 14.5 percent larger than it was before the pandemic struck.
“There are now more healthcare workers in Australia than ever before, with all state and territories benefitting from an increase,” Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.
“At a time of unprecedented demand there are thousands of fully qualified doctors, nurses and midwives who can ease the strain on Australia’s stretched health systems and help patients receive the care they need sooner. Public safety is always our priority, and this means not only ensuring patients have access to a practitioner when they need them but upholding robust requirements so they can be assured of the training and qualifications of the health practitioners they are seeing.”
To be registered to work in Australia, internationally trained practitioners must provide proof of their training and qualifications, international criminal history checks, English language skills, Australian employer documentation, application forms and identity checks, among other safeguards.
Source: Ahpra News Release, December 20, 2022
Discussion Regarding State of Health Care
On September 29, 2022 as part of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) 2022 Annual Meeting, the Council invited more than 40 health care leaders and stakeholders to contemplate 6 questions on the state of health care in Canada. Held in Ottawa, located on the Territory of Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, these discussions examined a range of topics on the health care landscape in Canada, including physician burnout and emerging competencies required of physicians. During these sessions, co-facilitated by MCC Council members and Executive team, 3 primary themes that are related to the work of MCC emerged:
The need for the assessment of emerging competencies, such as virtual care and nonmedical expert skills, including resiliency, continuous learning, and humility.
The need for thoughtful and robust integration of antiracism and cultural safety training throughout a physician’s career.
The need for increased access and more alternative routes to licensure for international medical graduates (IMGs).
The feedback gathered will be used by the Council to inform MCC’s strategic direction. A detailed summary of the questions and discussions were captured by members of the MCC staff acting as notetakers and is now available for review at 2022-MCC-Annual-Meeting-Stakeholder-discussion-summary.pdf (stackpathcdn.com)
Source: Medical Council of Canada website, December 8, 2022
Reduction in Retention Fees Announced
The Medical Council of Ireland has announced a change in the annual retention fee for doctors who are on maternity leave. The change took effect on July 1, 2022.
Ann Curran, the Medical Council’s Head of Registration said, “The Council is pleased to announce that doctors who are on or going on maternity leave will be entitled to a refund of 50 percent of their annual retention fee.”
“We hope this change to our fee structure supports doctors, and their families, at a time when there can often be additional financial challenges. This is the first in a number of changes to our registration fee structures and we look forward to making further changes to support doctors over the next year.”
If a doctor’s maternity leave stretches across two retention periods, then they can opt for which retention period the 50 percent refund applies to.
In the past, doctors who have been on maternity leave have either paid the full retention fee or have voluntarily withdrawn from the register. This change will allow doctors to stay on the register while on maternity leave, receive a 50 percent refund on retention fees, and reduce the administrative burden on the doctor if they were to voluntarily withdraw and reapply to the register.
In 2021, some 25,959 doctors were on the medical register, with 45 percent female. Some 45 percent of specialist registered doctors and 53 percent of doctors aged 20–35 were female.
Source: The Medical Independent, July 15, 2022
Implementation of Personalized Contact to Initiate an Investigation
The General Medical Council (GMC) will begin making initial contact with a doctor by phone if they need to investigate a concern.
The change, which follows positive feedback from medical defense organizations, is part of a series of improvements by the GMC to take a more compassionate approach and reduce the impact of investigations.
To reduce anxiety for doctors the person handling the investigation will first e-mail the doctor to arrange a phone call then introduce themselves as the doctor’s contact, explain what the immediate next steps will be, and signpost them to relevant support services. This will be immediately followed up with written correspondence.
Source: GMC News Release, December 16, 2022