Peer Review - The role of peers in the PSR Scheme

A key underlying principle of the PSR Scheme is a professional review system where professionals are given the opportunity to explain their practice to a Committee of peers. A peer is defined as a member of the PSR Panel who has been appointed, after consultation with their relevant professional association, to represent the general body of their profession. The professions recognised under section 81 of the Act are:

  • medicine
  • dentistry
  • optometry
  • midwifery
  • the practice of a nurse practitioner
  • chiropractic
  • physiotherapy
  • podiatry
  • osteopathy
  • audiology
  • diabetes education
  • dietetics
  • exercise physiology
  • mental health nursing
  • psychology
  • occupational therapy
  • social work
  • speech pathology
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health services
  • Aboriginal health worker services
  • orthoptic health services.

When constituting a Committee, the Director will seek to appoint members from the Panel who practise in the same field as the practitioner under review. PSR does not have a role in formally recognising areas of medical practice and bases its decision on the Department of Health referral and the professions published list of recognised practice areas. When required the Director will consult with relevant professional colleges when putting together a Committee to ensure that appropriate professionals review the practitioner's practice.

Key Decision Makers

The Director of PSR

The Director is an independent statutory officer appointed by the Minister for Health under section 83 of the Act. The Director must be a medical practitioner, and his or her appointment is subject to the agreement of the Australian Medical Association (the AMA). The Director conducts reviews of practitioners referred to PSR by delegates of the Chief Executive Medicare.

The PSR Panel

The PSR Panel comprises medical and other health care practitioners, who are appointed by the Minister for Health after consultation with the AMA and other relevant professional bodies to sit on peer review Committees.

A PSR Committee

A PSR Committee comprises members of the PSR Panel (typically 2 Panel members in addition to one Deputy-Director who is the chair) and is established by the Director on a case-by-case basis to consider the practice of a specific referred practitioner.

The Determining Authority

The Determining Authority is established within the Professional Services Review Scheme under section 106Q of the Act. It has two main roles:

  1. to decide whether or not to ratify Negotiated Agreements reached between the Director of PSR and a practitioner on the sanctions to apply where both parties agree that inappropriate practice has occurred.
  2. to determine the sanctions to apply whenever practitioners have been found by a PSR Committee to have engaged in inappropriate practice.

The Determining Authority comprises a permanent Chair (medical practitioner), a permanent lay person and a member from the profession of the practitioner. The Minister for Health appoints the Chair and members after consultation with the AMA and the relevant professional bodies.