There are health regulatory authorities under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 that are responsible for the registration and oversight of practitioners in specified health professions.
Each of the regulatory authorities describes scopes of practice for its profession (these set the boundaries within which a practitioner can practise), prescribe necessary qualifications, register practitioners and issue annual practising certificates. They also set standards of competence. The regulatory authorities, via professional conduct committees, can investigate individual practitioners’ competence and conduct.
These authorities are funded by a levy on their professions and have their own staff and premises. While the Minister of Health has a power of audit, the regulatory authorities have autonomy in making decisions such as setting scopes of practice or fees. The notices that give effect to those decisions are ‘deemed regulations’.
While the Minister of Health appoints the members of all regulatory authorities, there is a power in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act for the Minister to make regulations so that a proportion of the health professional members of an authority would be appointed according to elections held among the profession. Such regulations have been made with respect to the Nursing Council and the Medical Council.
Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal
The Minister of Health is responsible for a single shared disciplinary body for all professions – the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal – which hears and determines more serious cases against health practitioners.