AHPRA will publish all serious sexual misconduct findings on public register: health ministers

Health ministers are yet to respond to other proposed changes to AHPRA.

Health ministers have backed publishing criminal sex offences or professional misconduct involving sexual boundaries “in perpetuity” on doctors’ AHPRA listings.

The plan is one part of draft reforms drawn up in January following a Four Corners exposé on doctors who kept practising after sexual misconduct findings.

In a joint statement on Friday, health ministers said: “Patients should be aware of previous serious sexual misconduct of any health practitioner.”

“Therefore, ministers have agreed that [the] National Law will be amended to ensure any such proven allegation remain on a practitioner’s record in perpetuity.”

The draft plan said a guilty verdict in a criminal sexual offence case or a professional misconduct finding over sexual conduct would count as ‘serious’ sexual misconduct.

“Any conduct which results in a tribunal finding that meets one or more of the thresholds will be considered in scope for these reforms regardless of whether the offending conduct occurred during the course of practice or not,” it said.

“Conduct does not necessarily have to involve a patient, or direct relation to a patient, to be considered in scope.”

However, a successful appeal against a tribunal or court decision would require AHPRA to take the information down, it said.

It was unlikely that the changes would affect more than 25 doctors a year, and many of these would already have some information on the public register because of AHPRA’s listing of adverse tribunal findings.

The AMA backed the publication of serious sexual misconduct findings.

It said the threshold was high enough to “tilt the balance in favour of the prospective patient’s right to know”.

However, it took issue with suggestions that the entire disciplinary history, including non-sexual misconduct, of doctors found guilty of serious sexual misconduct should also be published.

Health ministers are scheduled to respond to the full draft plan by mid-year.