How much notice should I give?
If you have a written contract, you should give the notice period
required by your contract. You should give notice in writing.
If you do not have a written contract, you should give ‘reasonable notice’.
This will vary depending on factors such as the length of time you have
worked at the practice and how easy it will be for the practice to replace
you. At least four weeks’ notice will generally be expected. You should
give notice in writing.
You can agree with the practice that you will finish earlier. If such an
agreement is reached, it should be put in writing.
What happens to the practice records, prescription pads
and other property of the practice?
You should not take any property belonging to the practice (including
any of the practice’s confidential information) when you go. This
includes patient records, patient lists, patient contact details and financial
information about the practice.
You should return all practice property you have in your possession
that is not physically located at the practice (for example, any records or
equipment you may have at your home).
It may be prudent to ask the practice manager or owner to give you a
note confirming the practice has received the equipment and records.
Prescription pads remain the property of the practice. It is
recommended you destroy all old prescription pads with your name and
the practice address on them before you leave the practice.
What should I tell my patients?
You should ensure you comply with any obligations in your contract
about leaving the practice (including any restraint of trade obligations).
You should not breach any privacy obligations in dealing with patient
contact details (for example, you should not use patient contact details
to contact patients to let them know you are starting at a new practice).
If there are no restrictions in your contract:
- we suggest that before any announcements of your leaving,
you agree with the practice about the messaging you will give
- You should not encourage or ask patients to leave the practice and
become patients of your new practice.
- if a patient wants to see you at your new practice, you can ask the
patient to sign a consent form to transfer their medical records. See
below for further information about the transfer of patient records.
- you can advertise in the local press once you are established at your
new practice. See below for further information about advertising.
You should seek Avant’s advice if you are unsure about your obligations.
What happens with my patients’ records?
The question of ownership of medical records where doctors practise together or in shared premises can become complicated without an express agreement. It is useful to clarify these matters when you start work in your practice.
Can I get access to the records later if I have a claim,
complaint or other legal case?
It can be helpful to have a written agreement with the practice that if
any dispute arises about a patient you have treated at the practice, the
practice will provide you with a full copy of the records relating to that
patient so you can complete statements and reports, instruct lawyers
and respond to legal matters.
Are there any restrictions on what I can do at the
You should ensure you comply with any obligations in your contract about
leaving the practice, including any restraint of trade obligations. A restraint
of trade clause seeks to prevent you from poaching staff or patients
and/or from working at another practice that is within a specified distance
from your current practice for a specified period of time.
You should also ensure you are not breaching any obligations in your
FAQs for doctors leaving a practice
contract when you advertise your new practice.
What should I do with my personal property?
You should take your personal property when you go. You may wish to
consider taking important personal property before you resign. In some
cases, a practice owner may ask you to leave immediately and you may
not have an opportunity to gather all of your personal belongings.
Who has responsibility for the care of my patients when I
leave the practice?
Once you have left the practice, the practice will assume responsibility
for the care of your patients as it holds the patient’s medical records.
There are a number of things you should do in the lead-up to your
departure to ensure patient care is maintained.
- Patient recalls
You should bring to the attention of the practice the need to
follow up urgent and non-urgent patient recalls after you have
left and ensure the practice has a way of identifying the patients
requiring follow-up. If you are not confident that the usual practice
follow-up system will be sufficient, the simplest way is to provide
a list of patients who have outstanding investigations or otherwise
need follow-up together with a note about the urgency of the
investigation/need for a further consultation. All urgent recalls
should be generated by you in the first instance while you are still
at the practice. It may be wise for you to make a list of your urgent
recalls and provide a separate urgent recall list – incomplete
actions/responses – as part of your clinical handover, before you
leave the practice. You should also keep a list of the high-risk
patients you want to ensure are followed up or handed over when
you leave. Futhermore, you may wish to prepare a spreadsheet for
this purpose. Lastly, you should provide a copy to the practice when
- Referral tracking
You should develop a list of patients you have referred to a specialist
who have clinically significant issues and would be at medium to
high risk of a delayed diagnosis or a failure to diagnose if they do not
attend the specialist appointment, or if you do not receive feedback
from the specialist. You should provide a copy to the practice when
- Test tracking
There is a computer system facility that can be used to manage
an outstanding audit trail. You can go into your outstanding audit
trail and print a list of all tests (pathology and radiology) you have
requested where you have not received results (or not reviewed
Many computer programs have an inbox or task system for doctors to
receive results, messages etc. Where possible, you should ensure these
are completed before you leave the practice. You should provide a list
of incomplete tasks to the practice owner before you leave.
You should download relevant patient communications/discharge
summaries from the local public hospitals. A copy will probably be
sent to the practice and to you at your new practice.
You should review any correspondence and identify the patients
who require follow-up. You should contact those patients to advise
that follow-up is required. You should make a written request for
future communications relating to your patients to be directed to
you at your new practice, if those patients are going to follow you to
the new practice.
- Letter about clinical handover
It may be worthwhile writing a letter to the practice owner stating
that clinical handover has been completed and the remaining
follow-up processes are the responsibility of the practice.
You should keep copies of all handover documents provided to the
practice when you leave, including detailed records of how you have
managed the patient’s continuity of care.
The practice has directed me to leave immediately.
What should I do?
If you are directed to leave the practice premises, you should do so as
soon as you can. If you are distressed or upset, you should not drive
yourself home. Call a taxi or family member to collect you.
If possible, you should collect your important personal belongings
before you leave.
As soon as possible after you leave, you should write to the practice:
- confirming that you were directed to leave the practice immediately
(and perhaps setting out the circumstances)
- advising that you are unable to attend to patient care matters as
- advising that the continuity of care of your patients is now the
- asking for your computer password to be deactivated
- asking that your Medicare provider number not be used.
Should I contact Medicare?
Yes. You should ask Medicare to close down your Medicare provider
number for the practice. You can request details of the Medicare billings
for patients treated under your provider number if you wish. This
information can be helpful if there is a later dispute about amounts that
are owing to you from the practice.
A new provider number for your new practice will be required for future
Medicare item numbers billed to Medicare. This may take some time to
organise so it can be a good idea to apply as early as possible.
Can I advertise my new practice?
Yes, but you should ensure you comply with any obligations you have to
your former practice.
You should consider the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner
Regulation Agency) advertising guidelines which can be obtained from
the AHPRA website.
Some options to advertise your new practice include:
- letterbox drops
- local press
- internet – you may wish to include your name on the practice’s
website or other websites used to locate doctors. If possible, website
references to your former practice should be removed
- social media – you should have regard to AMA (Australian Medical
Association) and AHPRA guidelines
- posters in nearby pharmacies and other relevant businesses.
Who should I notify of my change of address?
You should change your postal address from your former practice to
your new practice or your home. In particular, you should notify the
- AHPRA (even if your mailing address is your home address, as AHPRA
needs an address for your principal place of practice)
- The Department of Immigration (if there are sponsorship issues)
- Your College (if any)
- The publishers of publications you receive at the practice.
You should leave a forwarding address for any personal mail that still
What should I do about any outstanding fees?
If possible, you should reach an agreement with the practice about
when and how outstanding fees will be paid and what documentation
will be provided to you.
Most doctors are engaged as contractors and are not entitled to annual
leave or long service leave. If you are an employed doctor, you may be
entitled to a payment in lieu of accrued leave when you leave the practice.
Is there anything I need to do with my computer?
You should disable your computer passwords.
You may wish to put an auto reply message on your former practice
email account indicating you no longer work at the practice.
If possible, you should arrange for all emails to that account to be
forwarded to another person so any urgent follow-ups can be
You should remove your personal information from the practice’s
computer system (for example, email addresses, personal documents)
when you go.
I have received a letter from my former practice’s lawyer
alleging that I stole confidential information. What should
You should contact Avant for assistance.
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 practise 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 Mutual Group Limited 2015. 1219 04/17 (0804)