AHPRA still not winning any popularity contests

2 minute read

‘Modern’, ‘caring’ and ‘in touch’ are some words not being used to describe the regulator.

Trust in AHPRA and the boards is at its lowest ebb since the regulator began collecting data, with new survey results revealing that just 40% of doctors say they have trust or confidence in the Medical Board.

The data, which was collected in 2021, contained responses from around 1500 medical practitioners across Australia.

Less than a quarter reported having been the subject of an AHPRA notification and just 8% had been audited in the past.

While awareness and understanding of the Medical Board’s functioned have remained steadily high since the yearly survey kicked off in 2018, confidence and trust levels have taken a tumble.

In the first three surveys, trust was consistently above 50%, making the 13 percentage-point decrease to 38% in 2021 quite dramatic.

Confidence, meanwhile, has decreased just slightly from 44% in 2018 and 2019 to 40% in 2021.

Putting those results in context, trust in the regulator across all health professions was 59% in 2021 and confidence was at 49%.

According to AHPRA, the surge in doctor distrust was largely driven by opinions relating to covid-19 vaccination and mandates.

Beyond covid, ubiquitous themes from people reporting distrust included the view that the Medical Board worked with “blind injustice”, had little concern for supporting practitioner mental health and was made up of “distant bureaucrats”.

Overall, just 41% of respondents indicated that they viewed the Medical Board in a positive light.

The report notes that this is significantly less positive than how other health professions viewed their respective boards.

But it’s the word association section that is perhaps the most telling.

Asked to choose words to describe AHPRA from a pre-defined list, around 40% chose “regulators” or “bureaucratic” and 30% chose “administrators”.

Not one person chose the term “nurturing”, but “modern”, “caring” and “in touch” received 1% of the vote each.

In terms of perceived practical support, only 23% of doctors rated AHPRA as providing “excellent” or “good” support, and around a third said the support they received was “poor” or “very poor”.

While by no means positive, these results actually represented a slight increase in positive ratings of AHPRA’s support compared to the year previous.

From this year onward, AHPRA has elected to follow a “different approach” to surveying and engaging with practitioners to get insight on its role and work.

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