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In 2024, the AMC has commenced a review of the Standards for Assessment and Accreditation of Specialist Medical Programs.

The AMC is committed to a Shared Sovereignty approach involving culturally safe consultation and development led by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and Māori Peoples. The AMC Specialist Education Accreditation Committee will work with the AMC Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and Māori Committee to provide oversight of the review.

In accordance with the AMC’s published accreditation procedures, the AMC has constituted a Standards Review Working Group to lead the scoping, review and development work.

Professor Alison Jones (BA (Hons) Social Policy and PhD Med Ed) has been appointed to chair the Standards Review Working Group. Professor Jones is an experienced medical educationalist and AMC assessor, who has held roles in specialist medical colleges, jurisdictional departments of health, prevocational training accreditation authorities and medical schools, in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Professor Jones’ most recent roles was as Dean (Education) at Flinders University, College of Medicine and Public Health.

The AMC is working with the Medical Council of New Zealand and reporting to the Medical Board of Australia on the review.

Scope of the Review

The Review will cover all the accreditation standards detailed in Standards for Assessment and Accreditation of Specialist Medical Programs by the AMC 2023.

These standards relate to specialist medical programs that are delivered binationally, across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as those programs delivered only in Australia.

Timelines and process

The AMC takes account of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s Procedures for the development of accreditation standards when reviewing accreditation standards and works with the Medical Council of New Zealand to ensure the process and consultation is also appropriate for New Zealand.

The indicative timeline for the Review is outlined below. This timeline may change in response to consultation.

The Review process and timeline allow for extensive stakeholder consultation in developing the scope of the Review and detailed proposals for changes to the standards. There will be at least two formal consultation periods conducted on the:

  1. Scope and nature of the changes, and
  2. Detailed proposals for changes to the standards.

Consultation planned for mid-2024 includes:

  • yarning sessions with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and Māori stakeholders,
  • focus groups with consumers and trainees,
  • engagement with jurisdictional Departments of Health/Ministry of Health
  • engagement with local health networks, districts, and primary healthcare providers and,
  • meetings with all Colleges.

These engagements will inform the development of the scoping paper and a public consultation period will provide further opportunities for stakeholder input, prior to confirming the scope of the Review.

In 2022 and 2023, the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman (NHPO) undertook a review of specialist medical college policies, procedures, and practices for accreditation of specialist training sites. In November 2023, the Ombudsman published a report setting out recommendations for colleges and the AMC, Part one: A roadmap for greater transparency and accountability in specialist medical training site accreditation. Health Ministers received this report in late 2023 and agreed with the recommendations. Health Ministers have directed the AMC and the Health Workforce Taskforce to work with colleges on the implementation of the recommendations.

Colleges and the AMC have already progressed this work, working collaboratively to agree the Communication Protocol approved by Ministers in 2023. The protocol sets out the roles and responsibilities and expectations about communication regarding accreditation of training sites/posts in Australian public hospitals and health facilities. The protocol is now operational.

Making progress on the NHPO recommendations, and the implementation of the Communication Protocol is a Ministerial priority and therefore, work will occur on a faster track ahead of the Standards Review. This work will support the confirmation of the scope of the review and inform how the standards are developed at the relevant points in the review process, in particular, standard 8.2 relating to the accreditation of training sites by specialist medical colleges.

The response to the NHPO recommendations is being managed as an operational improvement project and the AMC has engaged the Miller Blue Group consultancy to support the AMC and colleges in the work, so progress can be made in a timely way. The AMC liaises with the Health Workforce Taskforce, the Medical Board of Australia, and Ahpra to report progress.

In December 2023, the National Cabinet endorsed the final report on the Independent Review of Australia’s Regulatory Settings Relating to Overseas Health Practitioners by Ms Robyn Kruk AO, which recommended broad reform to streamline regulatory settings for international health practitioners seeking to work in Australia. The report contains 28 recommendations for broad reform to streamline regulatory settings for international health practitioners seeking to work in Australia. The broad reform areas are:

  • Improve the applicant experience
  • Expand fast track registration pathways
  • Improve workforce data and planning
  • Increasing flexibility, while ensuring safety and quality of care
  • Enhance regulator performance and stewardship.

The recommendations in the report will inform the scoping work for standards relating to assessment of specialist international medical graduates.

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