Crown entities and agencies

Crown entities form part of New Zealand’s state sector and are responsible to the Minister of Health.

Health Quality and Safety Commission

The Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) is a Crown agent with the objectives of leading and coordinating work across the health and disability sector for the purposes of monitoring and improving the quality and safety of health and disability support services.

The functions of the Commission include providing advice to the Minister of Health on how quality and safety in health and disability support services may be improved, and matters relating to mortality, including appointing and supporting mortality review committees. It is also responsible for determining and reporting quality and safety indicators (such as serious and sentinel events) for health and disability support services.

The Commission encourages and supports the participation of consumers in decision making in governance, planning, policy and service delivery.

Health Benefits Limited

Health Benefits Limited (HBL) is a national shared services organisation formed to reduce costs and deliver savings through the effective and efficient delivery of administrative, support and procurement services for district health boards.

This includes services such as financial management and information systems, procurement and supply chain, human resource and shared payroll, information technology and facilities management. Savings made from these activities will be reinvested into frontline health services and in many cases this will mean services can be maintained in the face of increasing costs and tight fiscal conditions.

While not a Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act, HBL is a Crown-owned company. It is owned in equal shares by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance.

Health and Disability Commissioner

The main role of the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC), an independent Crown entity, is to ensure that the rights of consumers are upheld, and health or disability service providers learn to improve their performance. This includes making sure that consumer complaints are taken care of fairly and efficiently. The HDC also provides funding for a national advocacy service to help consumers with complaints.

As of 1 July 2012, the HDC has also assumed the monitoring and advocacy functions previously delivered by the Mental Health Commission.  A Mental Health Commissioner position, reporting to the Health and Disability Commissioner, has been established to oversee the performance of these new functions.

Health Promotion Agency

The Health Promotion Agency (HPA) has been established to lead and deliver innovative, high quality and cost-effective programmes that promote health, well-being and healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, illness and injury prevention. This includes providing advice and recommendations to government, government agencies, industry, non-government bodies, communities, health professionals and others on the supply, consumption and misuse of alcohol. The HPA will also engage in research on the use of alcohol in New Zealand, public attitudes towards alcohol and problems associated with alcohol misuse.

The HPA has assumed the functions previously delivered by ALAC and the Health Sponsorship Council, as well as responsibility for a number of health promotion programmes previously delivered by the Ministry of Health. The ALAC levy has been retained by the HPA to address alcohol-related harm.

Health Research Council of New Zealand

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) is the Crown agent responsible for the allocation of the government’s investment in public-good health research. The HRC funds health research in four broad areas.

  • Health and wellbeing in New Zealand – keeping New Zealanders healthy and independent throughout life.
  • Improving outcomes for acute and chronic conditions – better recovery for people suffering an illness or injury.
  • New Zealand health delivery – improving service delivery.
  • Rangahau Hauora Maori – supporting Maori health research.

New Zealand Blood Service

The New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is the Crown agent that ensures the supply of safe blood products. NZBS takes responsibility for the development of an integrated national blood transfusion process, from the collection of blood from volunteer donors to provision of blood products within the hospital environment.


PHARMAC is the New Zealand government agency that decides, on behalf of district health boards, which medicines and related products are publicly funded in New Zealand and to what level. In addition to medicines used in the community, PHARMAC manages all hospital medicines and the vaccines funded by Government. PHARMAC is also working towards management of hospital medical devices, working in conjunction with Health Benefits Ltd.

PHARMAC's main roles include: 

  • managing the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget for community medicines, vaccines, and hospital cancer medicines;
  • determining the Pharmaceutical Schedule (the list of Government-funded medicines prescribed and dispensed in the community, medicines available in DHB hospitals (including pharmaceutical cancer treatments) and vaccines);
  • managing the hospital medicines list – the medicines all DHB hospitals provide for their patients;
  • managing access to medicines for named individuals through the Named Patient Pharmaceutical Assessment policy, and other special access programmes;
  • promoting the responsible use of medicines; and
  • engaging in research, policy work and support to others in the health sector.
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