Unlike criminal courts where because you are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty and so sanction only comes after a guilty verdict, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has the power to suspend a Health Care professional’s ability to work on merely the preference of a charge or certain types of complaints.
Unfortunately for the practitioner suffering that fate, the sanction is immediate but the complaint or charge might take years to be resolved or determined in court. That sort of timeframe without work will prove calamitous to almost any health care professional.
How To Defend A Charge
Mercifully, there are ways of preventing that. Once a notification of the AHPRA Board’s proposed action has been received by a Health Care professional the first opportunity to prevent any negative action is to provide the Board with a response to the allegation. Great care must be exercised here though because where, for example, criminal charges are involved, AHPRA is likely to refer whatever information sent them to them back over to the police.
We have learned at McMillan Criminal Law that given that AHPRA’s primary concern is public safety, the best approach is to propose achievable measures which will convince the Board that the risk posed by the Health Care professional is rendered acceptable.
Alternative Defence Strategy
If that fails then forcing a written reason from the Board will allow the Health Care professional two avenues of appeal: one to QCAT which is merit based, and a judicial review to the Supreme Court of each State which requires finding an error of law. It is very important to note that in considering which road to take, a judicial review can also be accompanied by a stay in the execution of the Board’s decision.
Proven Experience With AHPRA Complaints
At McMillan Criminal Law we have represented many Health Care professionals whose lives have been turned upside down after the dual impact of charges and the intervention of AHPRA. Success in such matters always depends on a thorough understanding of the powers of that body and its charter.