Optometry Board of Australia - 2021 pandemic response sub-register gets a boost
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2021 pandemic response sub-register gets a boost

06 Apr 2022

More than 20,000 health practitioners are now on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register after practitioners on the 2020 sub-register opted in to extend their temporary registration.

The 2020 sub-register was established in April 2020 to provide a surge health workforce to support the COVID-19 response. Inclusion was voluntary and practitioners could opt out at any time. The temporary registration of practitioners who were still on the 2020 sub-register (did not opt out) expired on 5 April 2022 and that sub-register is now closed.

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher thanked all practitioners who recently opted in to extend their temporary registration and be included on the 2021 sub-register.

‘Along with the National Boards, I would also like to thank everyone who stayed on the 2020 sub-register, but especially those who answered the call to support the COVID-19 response for their contribution to our health services during a difficult and uncertain time.'

In September 2021, Ahpra and the National Boards established a new sub-register (the 2021 sub-register), enabling recently retired practitioners from 12 regulated health professions to return to practice for up to 12 months.

‘The establishment of the two pandemic response sub-registers in 2020 and in 2021 means we have had a surge workforce available to help if and where needed, whether that’s bolstering the frontline workforce, helping with the vaccination roll out or backfilling furloughed staff,’ Mr Fletcher said.

‘We estimate that at any given time, about 10 per cent of the practitioners on the temporary sub-registers have been employed to support the COVID response. That’s a workforce that normally would not have been available.’

Who is on the 2021 sub-register?

Today’s boost to the 2021 sub-register means there are now 20,730 health practitioners with temporary registration to support the COVID-19 response. They are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners (all divisions), diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists.

All practitioners on the 2021 sub-register can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations). Their registration expires on 21 September 2022 when the 2021 sub-register is scheduled to close. However, if governments alert Ahpra and National Boards to significant changes in need, the sub-register may stay open for longer.

See pandemic response sub-register and FAQs for practitioners for more information.

What is the registration status of practitioners who were on the 2020 sub-register?

Practitioners who were still on the 2020 sub-register (did not opt out) have done one of the following:

  • opted in to be on the 2021 sub-register so their registration is extended to expire at midnight on 21 September 2022
  • formally applied for registration on the main register (Register of practitioners) using a transition pathway, or
  • allowed their registration to expire (these practitioners can no longer practise from 6 April 2022).

Practitioners who had non-practising registration before being on the 2020 sub-register have been returned to that registration type on the main register unless they have applied for general registration.

Important information for employers

  • Employers should check the registration status of anyone employed from the 2020 sub-register. If they are not on the Register of practitioners, they are not registered.
  • If the practitioner has applied for registration on the main register and their application is still being assessed by Ahpra, their temporary registration will remain in effect and will be shown on the main register until the application is decided and the practitioner’s details are updated.

See FAQs for employers for more information.

Background to the pandemic response sub-register

Established as a temporary measure, the 2020 pandemic response sub-register allowed the return to work of qualified and experienced health practitioners to provide a potential surge health workforce during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 sub-register enabled practitioners who previously held general registration and had left the Register of practitioners, or those who had moved to non-practising registration in the past three years, to return to practice.

In early April 2021, the Commonwealth Health Minister requested that the 2020 sub-register be extended for up to 12 months for specific professions. The temporary registration of practitioners from those professions expired yesterday.

The establishment of the 2021 sub-register in September last year enabled recently retired practitioners from 12 regulated health professions to return to practice for up to 12 months.

For more information

  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200
  • For more information about the 2021 pandemic response sub-register, visit the COVID-19 information page: www.ahpra.gov.au/News/COVID-19.
Page reviewed 6/04/2022