Protect Your Practice

When running a practice, it is vital that you are aware of a range of national accreditation and regulation standards that exist for both health professionals and the practice.

According to the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, accreditation is the public recognition by a healthcare accreditation body, demonstrated through an independent external peer assessment, of an organisation’s performance in relation to set standards.

There are various levels of accreditation and regulation, which are provided at a national registration, speciality specific and practice level.


The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is the body that supports the Medical Board of Australia. The Medical Board of Australia is responsible for protecting the public by regulating the profession of medicine through the setting of standards and policies that all medical practitioners must meet.

All medical practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals must be registered with AHPRA in order to be able to practice in their discipline in Australia. You can check on the AHPRA website if a particular person is registered and if they have any restrictions in place.

General practice

General practice accreditation is independent recognition that your practice is committed to delivering safe and high quality healthcare to your patients by complying with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) standards for general practice

To register for accreditation, your practice must meet the RACGP’s definition of general practice:
General practice provides patient centred, continuing, comprehensive and coordinated primary care to individuals, families and communities.

To maintain currency in accreditation, practices must undergo accreditation every three years. The accreditation process promotes continuous quality improvement and practice accreditation is conducted by two accrediting bodies: AGPAL and GPA Accreditation Plus.

Once a practice has achieved accreditation they are eligible to apply to be part of the government’s practice incentive program, the Practice Incentives Program (PIP). The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) is aimed at supporting general practice activities that encourage continuing improvements, quality care, enhance capacity, and improve access and health outcomes for patients. Support is financial.

As the practice manager, you must ensure that your practice’s accreditation is up to date at all times. Practices registered for accreditation are required to achieve full accreditation within 12 months of joining the program. If a practice is unable to achieve full accreditation before the expiry of the registration certificate, a request can be made with the relevant accreditation body seeking an extension. Practices must ensure registration for accreditation covers the entire period until full accreditation is achieved to avoid PIP payments being withheld.

Practice managers

Whilst not mandatory to be registered, the AAPM provides practice managers with a Certified Practice Manager (CPM) program that promotes and recognises standards for the profession. AAPM members can also achieve the AAPM Fellowship, which is the highest level of certification in the association.

Medical colleges

The medical colleges are responsible for the training of medical specialists and maintaining standards across each specialty. The Medical Council of New South Wales takes a role in ensuring that medical practitioners in NSW are fit to practise medicine through ensuring that registered doctors adhere to standards of conduct and competence.

Some medical colleges and other healthcare professionals have also introduced practice accreditation e.g. diagnostic imagery, physiotherapy and dental practice. It is expected that practice accreditation for other specialties will increase in coming years as the demand for improvement in safety and quality in healthcare grows.

Accreditation bodies

Various bodies, such as the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, AGPAL and GPA provide accreditation of practices. Whilst not an accrediting body, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care provides leadership and coordination of improvement in safety and quality in healthcare across Australia.

When setting up a practice, it is important to be familiar with the requirements for accreditation for the particular services that you wish to provide.

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  • Accessibility
  • Visibility
  • Improve your practice
  • Demographics
  • Town planning
  • Practitioner density
  • Back-up services in the area

This publication is proudly brought to you by Avant Mutual Group. The content was authored by Brett McPherson, reviewed by Colleen Sullivan and Avant Mutual Group.

This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to the individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Avant is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. Information is only current at the date initially published. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2014.

IMPORTANT: Professional indemnity insurance products and Avant’s Practice Medical Indemnity Policy are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and PDS, which is available at or by contacting us on 1800 128 268. Practices need to consider other forms of insurance including directors’ and officers’ liability, public and products liability, property and business interruption insurance, and workers compensation and you should contact your insurance broker for more information. Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions of the policy. Any advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the product is appropriate for you before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us.