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Important Information - October 2014
Board presence at annual association conferences
Representatives of the Board will be present at both upcoming Association conferences this year. Should you have a question or issue that you would like to raise with the Board, please feel free to approach Board representatives, who will be situated in the main foyer/registration area at the ADONZ and NZAO conferences. Board signage will be displayed to assist you in identifying whom to approach. Board representatives look forward to meeting some of you and answering any queries you might have.
End of 2-year recertification cycle for optometrists fast approaching
The end of the 2-year recertification cycle for optometrists is fast approaching (31 October). Optometrists, please ensure you are aware of your current CPD status and are working towards achieving the remaining credits you need.
If you think you may be at risk of being unable to fulfil the requirements of the recertification programme, you should get in touch with the Board as early as possible to discuss your situation and receive advice on how to proceed. If this applies to you, please contact the Registrar on 04 474 0705.
Further call for applications for Conduct and Competence Review Committee members
The Board is interested in recruiting additional practitioners to serve as professional conduct and competence review committee members when the need arises for a practitioner’s conduct to be investigated or competence to be assessed.
A Professional Conduct Committee is a committee of two practitioners and a lay person appointed to consider a complaint or other information (including convictions) referred to the Board which raises concerns about the appropriateness of the conduct of a health practitioner. The committee governs its own process and is independent of the Board. At the conclusion of its investigation it makes a determination and/or recommendation in line with section 80 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 and submits a report to the Board detailing its procedure and outcome. Investigations can run anywhere from 3 to 12 months, sometimes longer, depending on the complexity of the matter being considered. Business of the committee is usually transacted via email or teleconference, but there will be times when a committee needs to meet face-to-face, which may involve travel, particularly when interviewing people or meeting with lawyers.
A Competence Review Committee is similarly a committee of two practitioners and one lay person, but in contrast, this committee is referred matters where there is a question as to whether a practitioner may be practising at the required standard for the scope of practice in which they are registered. The committee’s process is governed by terms of reference and procedure set largely by the Board, but in consultation with the practitioner being reviewed. Generally, the review takes the form of a 1-day practice visit by the Committee who will meet with and interview the practitioner, get a sense of the practitioner’s working sttle and environment, review a sample of clinical records, and in most instances, will observe some patient consultations (with consent). They will then make a determination as to whether they consider the practitioner to be practising at the required standard and report this back to the Board via a written report detailing their findings. This whole process is usually completed within a 2-3 month timeframe.
If you would like to apply to be considered for membership of a professional conduct or competence review committee, please send your CV to the Board together with a supporting cover letter indicating why you are interested in becoming a committee member and what you believe you could bring to the role. Please indicate in your letter your preference for serving on conduct or competence review committees, as the roles are quite different and members are typically appointed to only one.
Your responsibility to report concerns
Do you know of a colleague with a health problem that may be starting to affect their work?
Or perhaps someone whose practice of optometry or dispensing has declined in recent years and who may no longer be providing a safe standard of care?
Or even someone who may be registered and practising without a current APC?
As health practitioners, you have a duty to intervene to stop unsafe, incompetent, unethical or unlawful practice. Health consumers are relying on you to take appropriate actions necessary, or to report to an appropriate person or organisation, when their safety is being placed at risk.
The Board wishes to foster openness with peers and consumers and to be active about talking with practitioners when concerns have been raised. This does not necessarily mean action will be taken, but simply means that for the safety of the public, the Board will make enquiries into the concerns raised.
With this in mind, the Board’s Registrar is happy to have a confidential ‘no names’ telephone discussion with anyone who has concerns about another practitioner and is unsure of what to do. Simply talking through your concerns with a third party may help you decide what to do. The Registrar can be reached on 04 474 0705.
Debt recovery from disciplined practitioners
As previously advised, the Board has been attempting to formally recover the discipline-related debt owed to the Board by optometrists, Desmond White and Andrea Buckingham, via debt collection agency, Baycorp. No funds have yet been recovered on either debt, and as a significant amount of time has now passed, the Board has made provision for this debt as ‘doubtful debt’ in its recently published financial statements.
The Board has not yet given up hope of recovering this debt, but a decision has recently been made not to take the step of pursuing legal action (at additional cost to the Board) for the recovery of the larger of the two debts, owed by Ms Buckingham, unless new information concerning Ms Buckingham’s whereabouts is forthcoming. The other debt, owed by Mr White, has been transferred to Baycorp Australia for collection, as information in the Board’s possession indicates Mr White may have relocated there.
The Board will continue to update practitioners and stakeholders on any progress in recovering these debts.
Your feedback welcomedThe Board welcomes feedback and enquiries on its standards, policies, and processes at any time. If you would like to make an enquiry or submit feedback, please feel free to email the Board’s Registrar, Lindsey Riley, at Lindsey.Riley@odob.health.nz