An important part of the Physiotherapy Board’s role is receiving and processing complaints and notifications. We are the statutory body which sets standards, monitors and promotes competence, continuing professional development and conduct for the practice of physiotherapy in the interests of public health and safety. The physiotherapy profession is highly respected and consists of 4501 physiotherapists with an Annual Practising Certificate and 1679 Non Practising (as at June 2016).
Although the number of complaints is small compared to the total numbers of registered physiotherapists, it is increasing at a greater rate than can be expected with the profession’s growth. All recent fraud complaints and notifications were referred to a PCC, with one forwarded to the Police. Complaints are resource and time intensive so this process may take over a year from the time the initial complaint is laid. The cost of processing complaints for PCC and Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunals (HPDT) are covered by the Disciplinary Reserve. The Disciplinary Reserve is a reserve funded by the Disciplinary Levy currently paid by registered physiotherapists who hold a current APC.
The average cost of PCC and HPDT hearings are $16,500 and $64,500 respectively, although there is some potential for limited cost recovery if the decision goes against the practitioner. The increased number of complaints has consequences for the Disciplinary Reserve, which is projected to be in deficit by $144,034 by 2018 if the Disciplinary Levy is not increased and the current volume of conduct complaints and notifications continue as projected.
The Disciplinary Levy is calculated based on an average historical and projected future cost of PCC investigations and HPDT hearings. The Board has a Reserves Policy that prescribes the level of the Disciplinary Reserve. The Reserves Policy was reviewed by the Board based on recent levels of PCC investigations and HPDT hearings. The Board must therefore maintain a level of reserves for disciplinary (PCC and HPDT) costs. This is based on 10 PCCs ($165,000) and two HPDTs ($129,000) – a total required reserve of $294,000. The trend of increasing conduct disciplinary issues is the major driver in the shortfall in the Disciplinary Reserve.
The Board proposes increasing the Disciplinary Levy to $135.58 for the 2017/2018 practising year, and has published ‘Consultation on proposed levy and fee increases for 2017/2018 practising year‘ to explain the levy increase. There is also a proposal to increase the Return to Practice application fee to $432.30 (the average cost of each application) as there is currently a shortfall of $30.30 per application.
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