Our processes and procedures
Following receipt of a complaint about a doctor practising in NSW, we consult with the Health Care Complaints Commission to decide which organisation will manage each complaint. Serious complaints which may result in a civil prosecution are investigated by the Commission. Complaints referred to the Council are managed through the health, performance or conduct pathways or a combination. The aim of the health and performance pathways is generally to protect the public from unsafe practice whilst supporting a practitioner with health or performance problems to return to unconditional practice. The conduct stream generally has a more disciplinary flavour and is more likely to result in the impositions of sanctions if the poor conduct is not corrected.
Depending on the pathway, a doctor may:
- be interviewed
- required to attend a medical examination
- have their knowledge and work skills assessed
The outcome of these assessments will determine the ongoing management of the doctor by the Council. Where no further action is required to protect the public, the matter is closed. However, where the Council considers remedial action is required, possible actions include requirements for:
- education about specific aspects of practice
- treatment for a health condition
- ongoing testing for drug or alcohol use
The Medical Council may impose conditions on the practitioner's registration in order to give effect to these requirements.
In cases where the Council considers that urgent action is required to protect the public whilst investigation takes place, it may also suspend a practitioner's registration. Suspension may also be considered in situations where it is in the public interest to do so.
The Council will monitor a doctor’s ongoing compliance with these any conditions imposed.
The complainant will be kept informed at key points of the process. Employers may also be notified of outcomes in certain circumstances.
Committees and panels
Council members are appointed to two or three sub-committees which carry out the Council’s work. These committees meet three times each month to make decisions about individual practitioners being managed within the health, performance and conduct pathways.
Other decision-making panels are comprised of medical and non-medical hearing members appointed by the Council. They include
- Impaired Registrant Panels: Assess whether a doctor’s health problem may affect his or her ability to practice and make recommendations.
- Performance Review Panels: Review a doctor’s performance.
- Professional Standards Committees: Independent from the Council, these disciplinary committees consider complaints which have raised an important issue of professional conduct. They may impose conditions and fines.
The Council's secretariat handles the Council's day to day work including coordinating and supporting hearings by the Council and its committees and panels, as well as monitoring doctors who have conditions placed on their registration. Secretariat staff are employed by the NSW Ministry of Health.
How we engage with our partners
The Medical Council works with regulatory partners and stakeholders in NSW and across Australia to protect the public by regulating registered doctors.
Together we manage complaints about doctors who practice in NSW. Some of the partners and stakeholders we work with include:
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) works with the national boards of health professions within the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. It registers health professionals, including medical practitioners, in Australia. Ahpra also receives complaints and mandatory notifications which are then managed in NSW by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) and, the in the case of medical practitioners, the Medical Council .
NSW Health Care Complaints Commission
The Health Care Complaints Commission is an independent health complaints agency in NSW. It investigates and prosecutes serious complaints about registered health practitioners, unregistered health practitioners and health service providers, including hospitals. The Medical Council works in collaboration with the Commission to receive and manage complaints about indvidual registered doctors and registered medical students in NSW.
NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has powers to restrict a health practitioner’s registration through the imposition of conditions or, in the most serious cases, to suspend or cancel a doctor's registration.
NSW Ministry of Health
NSW Ministry of Health is the government department responsible for health services in NSW. The Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) is an executive agency within the Ministry which provides support services to 15 health professional councils in NSW, including the Medical Council.
Medical Board of Australia
The Medical Board of Australia works in partnership with AHPRA. The Board:
- sets the registration and professional standards that registered medical practitioners in Australia must meet, and
- makes decisions about registering individual doctors and holds them to account against national standards.
How we engage with the community
The NSW Medical Council exists to protect the public so engagement with the community is important. Council Committees normally include at least one non-medical member to ensure that the patient perspective is taken into consideration and given due weight.
We receive and manage complaints to maintain high standards in the medical profession and to maintain public confidence in the delivery of health care in NSW. We work with stakeholder groups through public forums and presentations to talk about the work of the Council and to learn about the perspectives of others.
For more information or to make a suggestion, contact us.
Feedback about our work
Our aim is to improve public safety and wellbeing through fair, efficient and consistent regulation of medical practitioners in NSW. If you have any concerns about the way we do our work, you can make a complaint, provide feedback or make an inquiry about our policies, procedures or processes.
We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of our work and welcome your feedback.
People providing feedback have rights and responsibilities, including:
- providing feedback that is reasonable, lawful and appropriate
- to be treated with courtesy and respect
- to be provided with adequate information in a timely manner.