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Health Complaints Amendment (Code of Conduct) Bill 2018 (No. 26)

[12.24 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, the number of registered health practitioners continues to grow. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - AHPRA - and the National Boards released an annual report summary on health practitioner regulation in Tasmania for the year ending 30 June 2017. There were 14 522 registered health practitioners in Tasmania compared with 14 123 in the previous year - an increase of 399 registered health practitioners. Tasmanian practitioners accounted for 2.1 per cent of all registered health practitioners in Australia and 2.4 per cent of all nurses were based in Tasmania.

Three hundred and twenty-nine notifications, complaints or concerns were received about registrants with their principal place of practice in Tasmania - a 36 per cent increase in notifications on the previous year.

Twelve new statutory offence complaints were received, down from 13 on the previous year.

There are 700 000-plus registered health practitioners and over 150 000 registered students nationally.

I am pleased the code will not restrict entry to practice, but will allow action to be taken against any unregistered healthcare worker who fails to comply with proper standards of conduct or practice. The bill provides the right of appeal for affected healthcare workers in relation to actions taken in response to breaches of the code.

I am also pleased, as agreed by the COAG Health Council, that an independent review of the national code regulation regime is to be initiated by health ministers no later than five years after implementation.

For those who are not registered, I welcome the introduction of the code of conduct, which sets minimum standards of conduct and practice and national standards against which disciplinary action can be taken in circumstances where a healthcare worker's continued practice presents a serious risk to public health and safety.

The vast majority of practitioners practice in a competent and ethical manner. For those who do not, the code will provide an additional level of public protection. I support the bill.

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