The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards have announced the findings of surveys designed to evaluate practitioner and wider community attitudes and views regarding our role and activities.
The findings inform how we may strengthen our interaction with both regulated health professionals and the community to increase trust and confidence in the work we are doing to implement the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).
The study, which was issued today, contains the findings of an anonymous survey of a random sample of registered health practitioners performed in late 2020, as well as an anonymous survey addressed to a random sample of members of the public throughout Australia. There were roughly 10,230 replies from practitioners and 2,020 responses from the general public.
An independent consultant oversaw both polls.
The polls were mostly the same as those conducted in 2018 and 2019, allowing for a comparison of changes in awareness and mood over time. However, when compared to prior years' statistics, the overall survey findings remain constant.
In what was a challenging year owing to the effects of COVID-19, practitioners' confidence and trust among Ahpra and National Boards grew, whilst levels in the larger community remained unchanged.
The 2020 survey also includes a new question to assess Ahpra and National Boards actions to assist practitioners with the COVID-19 pandemic response. The pandemic response sub-register was the most well-known effort, with 47% of practitioners and 27% of the general public aware of it.
Results specific to a profession
The Physiotherapy Board of Australia also released a study based on the findings of an online poll of registered physiotherapists.
Board Chair Kim Gibson said that the 2020 survey gave particularly useful information, especially in a year when Ahpra and the National Boards interacted with practitioners more often than normal owing to COVID-19.
Whilst it was encouraging to observe an improvement in trust and confidence in Ahpra and National Boards from registered practitioners during a difficult year, some remain unclear about our role in administering the National Scheme and our powers under the National Law.
Ms Gibson said that the National Law employs a "protection of title" concept, with public protection as the primary focus. However according to the poll, there are still disparities in the knowledge of what a title protection model of health practitioner regulation entails and the responsibilities of regulators.
She added that they would poll practitioners again in 2021, and the findings will be revealed in 2022. This year, Ahpra has conducted focus groups with certain parts of the larger community whilst also studying various methods of data collecting to get insights and comments.