Welcome to the November 2018 newsletter of the Optometry Board of Australia (the Board).
Have you read the Board’s revised Endorsement for scheduled medicines registration standard and Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines? These have been in effect since 10 September 2018 and all optometrists need to be familiar with them.
It’s also time to renew your registration by 30 November 2018. The quickest and easiest way to renew is online.
The Board held useful discussions in October 2018 with member organisations on the Optometry Regulatory Reference Group (ORRG). This included the availability of training and supervision skills for optometry courses and programs, and developments and innovations that could shape what the profession would look like in 10 years. Read the full report in the newsletter.
We thank and acknowledge the contributions of three members who have served their maximum terms with the Board: Garry Fitzpatrick, Jane Duffy OAM and Derek Fails. We wish them well for the future.
We also welcome the appointments of three new members, Judith Hannan, Carla Abbott and Stuart Aamodt. Their profiles will be available on the Board’s website shortly.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) CEO Martin Fletcher, Executive Directors, National Directors and officers in all directorates for their professional service and hard work in helping the Board achieve its regulatory objectives and for facilitating collaboration across all professions to ensure that public safety remains paramount.
All of us on the Board extend our best wishes to optometrists and our many internal and external stakeholders for a safe, healthy and community-spirited festive season.
Chair, Optometry Board of Australia
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The Optometry Board’s revised Endorsement for scheduled medicines registration standard (registration standard) and Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines (the guidelines) are now in effect as of 10 September 2018. Registered optometrists need to familiarise themselves with this guidance to ensure their practice meets the Board’s expectations.
The registration standard sets out the requirements that an optometrist must meet to be granted an endorsement. The related guidelines outline the Board’s expectations about the use of scheduled medicines by endorsed and non-endorsed optometrists. The guidelines apply to optometrists with general registration who use scheduled medicines for diagnostic purposes and to optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines, who use scheduled medicines for the purposes of the practice of optometry.
See Appendix B of the guidelines for the revised Board-approved list of topical scheduled medicines that endorsed optometrists are qualified to prescribe for the purposes of the practice of optometry. The revised list is also published on the Board’s website. An FAQ has been developed to provide further information about the changes and the Board’s expectations.
The registration standard and guidelines have been updated as a result of a scheduled review, following wide-ranging public consultation in 2017. The COAG Health Council (the Ministerial Council) approved the revised registration standard and guidelines on 31 May 2018. The Ministerial Council approval letter is on the Board’s website. A transition period in effect from June has now ended.
If you are a registered optometrist with a scheduled medicines endorsement you must also be familiar and comply with the current legislative requirements in the jurisdictions in which you practise.
For more information
The registration standard, guidelines and FAQ are available on the Board’s Endorsement for scheduled medicines webpage.
The Board has published an updated fact sheet to provide greater clarity for applicants seeking limited registration for postgraduate training and/or supervised practice.
To practise as an optometrist in Australia, all practitioners need to apply for and be registered with the Board. This registration standard applies to overseas trained optometrists and other eligible optometrists applying for limited registration for postgraduate training or supervised practice, or renewal of limited registration for postgraduate training or supervised practice.
The updated fact sheet helps applicants, limited registrants and their employers to understand the requirements of the registration standard.
The Board convened the annual meeting of the Optometry Regulatory Reference Group (ORRG) on 8 October 2018. The group is a discussion forum for matters relating to the registration of optometrists and the accreditation of optometry programs under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). ORRG also helps foster communication and understanding of the different regulatory and accreditation issues in Australia and New Zealand.
The meeting was chaired by Board Chair Ian Bluntish. Participants at this year’s ORRG comprised representatives of the following organisations:
The Board extends its gratitude and thanks to ABSTARR Consulting CEO Professor Greg Phillips. Greg is from Waanyi and Jaru Aboriginal Australian Peoples. He is also co-author of the National Health Workforce Strategy. Greg kindly offered his time to present on cultural safety and unconscious bias in the health system.
We also appreciate and thank Mitchell Anjou AM, Academic Specialist in Indigenous Eye Health and Senior Research Fellow, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, for his presentation on optometry’s service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health. This included regulatory considerations for closing the gap for vision loss.
Participants provided updated reports on important activities carried out by the organisations over the past 12 months.
General issues were discussed such as:
ORRG participants also discussed what the profession could look like in 10 years. We considered developments in relation to regulation and professional education including:
Overall, the Board is pleased that discussion centred on matters affecting the profession and the public, for future consideration at ORRG meetings and focus groups.
At its September meeting the Board farewelled three valued members who have served on the Board for the maximum three terms or nine years each. The three members were:
We thanked our departing members noting our appreciation for their tireless energy and commitment to achieving the Board’s regulatory objectives. We noted their contributions to the success of our many activities and projects, and wished them the very best for the future and in their continued contributions to the profession and the Australian community.
We extend a warm welcome to three newly appointed practitioner members, Judith Hannan (New South Wales), Carla Abbott (Victoria) and Stuart Aamodt (Western Australia). Their profiles will be uploaded on the Board’s website shortly.
Optometrists have until 30 November 2018 to renew their registration on time. The quickest and easiest way to renew is online.
If your application is received on time or during the following one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is processed. Applications received in December will incur a late payment fee in addition to the annual renewal fee.
If you do not apply to renew your registration by 31 December 2018 you will have lapsed registration. You will be removed from the national register and will not be able to practise in Australia.
More information about registration renewal is available on the Board’s website.
The Board released its latest quarterly registration statistics in November, for the period 1 July to 30 September 2018. Registrant numbers have increased from 5,532 as of the June report, to 5,595. The number of registrants with endorsements for scheduled medicines has increased from 3,059 to 3,151, bringing the percentage of general registrants with endorsements to 58.2 per cent.
Registration type by principal place of practice
*PPP: principal place of practice
Endorsements by principal place of practice
* Only optometrists holding general registration are eligible to hold the scheduled medicines endorsement.
For more information, visit the Board’s Statistics page.
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A pilot audit to check health practitioner compliance with advertising requirements will be conducted by AHPRA in early 2019.
The pilot audit has been modelled on the well-established approach to auditing compliance with core registration standards and involves adding an extra declaration about advertising compliance for two professions when applying for renewal of registration in 2018. (The National Law1 enables a National Board to require any other reasonable information2 to be included with a renewal application.)
The National Boards for chiropractic and dental are taking part in the pilot audit.
When applying to renew their registration, chiropractors and dental practitioners will be required to complete a declaration about their advertising compliance. The pilot audit will not delay a decision on the application for renewal.
Random audits of advertising compliance will advance a risk-based approach to enforcing the National Law’s advertising requirements and facilitate compliance by all registered health practitioners who advertise their services.
Regulatory Operations Executive Director Kym Ayscough said the audit for advertising compliance would provide opportunities to extend the current action under the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy launched in April 2017.
‘This pilot audit will potentially improve compliance with advertising obligations across the entire registrant population, not just those who have had an advertising complaint,’ Ms Ayscough said.
‘It will also provide opportunites to become more proactive in preventing non-compliant advertising by registered health practitioners.’
The audit will be carried out by AHPRA’s Advertising Compliance Team from January 2019 and will involve a random sample of chiropractors and dental practitioners who renewed their registration in 2018.
‘One of the audit’s main objectives is to analyse the rate of advertising compliance for those practitioners who advertise and who have not been the subject of an advertising complaint in the past 12 months,’ Ms Ayscough said.
Other objectives of the audit are:
A pilot audit report addressing the above objectives and including data analysis and recommendations will be prepared for National Boards to consider the pilot outcomes and implications for future compliance work.
For information about your advertising obligations see AHPRA’s advertising resources page.
1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
2 Section 107(4)(e) of the National Law.
AHPRA and the Board have started accepting an updated format of test results for the Occupational English Test (OET).
All National Boards have a registration standard for English language skills, which require applicants for initial registration to demonstrate English language skills to be suitable for registration. The OET is one of the English language skills tests accepted by the Board.
The English language level being tested by OET remains the same. Test takers are not being measured differently, with the only change being the way the OET scores are described. As such, the National Boards’ English language skills registration standards referring to OET have not changed. Rather, updates have been made to internal systems and relevant application forms to accommodate and reflect the new numerical scale. You can read more in the news item.
AHPRA has issued more guidance for advertisers to make it clearer that selectively editing reviews is not acceptable.
Under the National Law, testimonials about clinical care are not permitted, but reviews about non-clinical aspects of care are allowed.
In a recent case, an advertiser removed all negative comments from patients’ reviews. This selective editing changed the meaning of the reviews and had the potential to mislead the public. AHPRA’s new guidance makes it clear this is not acceptable and outlines the rules about editing or moderating reviews. It is misleading to:
Reviews influence consumers’ healthcare choices so advertisers must make sure reviews are genuine and not misleading.
The way advertisers moderate and publish reviews must comply with the National Law and the Australian Consumer Law.
The updated testimonial tool is available in the Advertising resources section on the AHPRA website.
For more information, access the Advertising resources on the AHPRA website.
The National Scheme has made a landmark commitment to helping achieve equity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians to close the gap by 2031.
Nearly 40 health organisations have signed the National Scheme Statement of Intent, including leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations, AHPRA, all National Boards, all accreditation authorities and other entities.
AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group is leading this work, in close partnership with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and experts.
The group shares a commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have access to health services that are culturally safe and free from racism so that they can enjoy a healthy life,
To help achieve this, the group is focusing on:
More information is available in the news item, the Statement of Intent and AHPRA’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
Photo: Associate Professor Gregory Phillips and Dr Joanna Flynn, co-chairs of AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, at the Statement of Intent launch.
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