24 Sep 2021
Optometrists Granted Temporary Registration To Participate in COVID-19 Surge Workforce
It has been decided that thousands of extra health practitioners can join the COVID-19 response through a new temporary sub-register established by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards.
The 2021 pandemic response sub-register was established in response to the changing needs of Australia’s health system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes 12 regulated health professions who can work to the full scope of their registration.
On the 2021 sub-register are key professions identified by governments in their pandemic response planning. These include medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists along with dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, occupational therapists, optometrists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are being added to the 2021 sub-register if they choose to opt in.
The extra health practitioners on the 2021 sub-register join 26,000 practitioners who are on the 2020 pandemic response sub-register first established in April 2020. Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register have registration limited to practice in areas supporting the COVID-19 response, such as administering the COVID-19 vaccination or backfilling furloughed staff.
Practitioners on both sub-registers can opt out at any time and don’t need to explain why.
Ahpra CEO, Martin Fletcher, said Ahpra and the National Boards were working with governments to help support Australia’s health system response to the pandemic. ‘Health service needs are constantly changing across Australia. The 2021 sub-register is a tool to help health authorities meet current workforce needs and those that might arise in the next 12 months.’
Public safety remains an important focus of Ahpra and the National Boards.
‘Our focus has been on ensuring that practitioners available as a potential surge health workforce are properly qualified, competent and suitable to be on the sub-registers,’ Mr Fletcher said.