Last November the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) called on the Federal Government to protect the title ‘physio’ in line with the protected status of ‘physiotherapist’ and ‘physiotherapy’, giving the public assurance that any practitioners using these titles are fully qualified, registered physiotherapists using evidence-informed treatments. This issue is now more pressing than ever, following the announcement by AHPRA that tougher sanctions have come into force for people falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner.
From today, the penalty for anyone prosecuted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) under the National Law for falsely claiming to be a registered health practitioner includes fines of up to $60,000 and the prospect of prison time.
The APA strongly endorses this tougher stance, but remains frustrated by the inaction of the federal government to enact protection of the title ‘physio’ which currently can, and is still being used, by non-physiotherapist practitioners which poses serious safety and quality risks to the Australian public.
APA National President Phil Calvert knows of several instances where non-physiotherapists (both registered health care providers and non-registered) have used the term ‘physio’ in their treatment discussions with patients and families, or in their advertising. “These situations should not be allowed to occur. They open up the real possibility that patients’ health and wellbeing is put at significant risk.”
“It is ingrained in the Australian vernacular that ‘physio’ is synonymous with physiotherapy, and for patients to be unwittingly subjected to treatment or advice from someone who is not the trusted, safe practitioner they think they are seeing is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.”
“The tougher penalties announced by AHPRA today should spur immediate action by the federal government to make sure this nonsensical loophole is closed once and for all.”
Phil Calvert is available for further comment.
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