Medically dependent consumers of electricity

This information for health practitioners outlines the high-level aspects of the process of identifying medically dependent domestic electricity consumers.

The process has been developed in consultation with the Ministry of Health, DHBs, the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, other health providers, electricity retailers and social agencies.

The process is set out in more detail in the Guideline on arrangements to assist medically dependent consumers (Guideline), available on the Electricity Authority’s website.

Who is a Medically Dependent Consumer (MDC)?

An MDC is a person who is dependent on mains electricity for critical medical support, such that a loss of electricity may result in loss of life or serious harm.

Ventilators, oxygen concentrators or ventricular assistance devices are examples of critical medical equipment, but non-medical equipment can also be required for critical medical support. For example, an MDC may need to use a microwave to heat fluids for renal dialysis.

Guideline on arrangements to assist medically dependent consumers

If a member of a household is medically dependent

If any member of a household, such as the person that pays the electricity bill, a child, or any other person that normally lives at the property is medically dependent, then they need to let their electricity retailer know as soon as possible.

How is a Medically Dependent Consumer identified?

When a person is prescribed or supplied critical electrical medical equipment (such as a ventilator), he or she should be provided with a Notice of Potential Medically Dependent Consumer Status (Notice of Potential MDC Status) by their District Health Board (DHB), private hospital or General Practitioner (GP).

The Notice of Potential MDC Status confirms that the person is potentially a MDC, as defined in the Electricity Authority’s Guideline.

What is a Notice of Potential MDC Status?

The Notice of Potential MDC Status is a form that is filled in by both the person being prescribed or supplied with critical electrical medical equipment and also the prescriber or supplier of that equipment (for example, a DHB, private hospital or GP).

Part A of the Notice of Potential MDC Status contains the patient’s details, an alternate contact, and the electricity account holder’s details for the household where the patient with the critical electrical medical equipment will be residing.

Part B of the Notice of Potential MDC Status details the fact of the patient’s actual MDC status at the point of signing the Notice of Potential MDC Status, that they have received appropriate training and education about the critical electrical medical equipment, and what to do in an emergency. This section also details who the patient’s prescribing health practitioner, or designated health practitioner is (as that term is defined in section 5 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003). The Notice of Potential MDC Status is signed and dated by both the patient and the health practitioner.

Guideline on arrangements to assist medically dependent consumers

What happens once a patient has a Notice of Potential MDC Status

It is the responsibility of the patient, or the person who pays the household’s electricity bill to immediately notify their electricity retailer that they have a Notice of Potential MDC Status. This can be done by telephone.

  • The patient needs to give their Notice of Potential MDC Status to their electricity retailer (e.g. by post). Some electricity retailers may be happy to receive a copy; others may want to see the original.
  • When changing electricity retailers, a person needs to let their new electricity retailer know of their MDC status, and they may be asked to send their Notice of Potential MDC Status to their new electricity retailer. A new Notice of Potential MDC Status does not need to be provided each time a person changes electricity retailers.

Verification of a person’s MDC status

From time to time, electricity retailers may ask their customers to provide suitable evidence that their MDC status is still the same, for example, a letter from a person’s GP that confirms a Notice of Potential MDC Status is still valid. The electricity retailer should reimburse their electricity customer for the reasonable costs incurred in obtaining suitable evidence, if the MDC status is confirmed.

The Electricity Authority recommends that electricity retailers ask for evidence of consumers’ MDC status no more than once a year, but may do so more often if a consumer gets into arrears with their electricity bill.

The DHB / private hospital / GP / issuer of the Notice of Potential MDC Status on behalf of the patient is not responsible for any debts incurred by the patient in relation to transactions or arrangements entered into by the patient with the electricity retailer.

More information

For more information go to the Electricity Authority’s website.

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