Regulating a new profession

There are 16 responsible authorities under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the Act).

The Act contains provisions enabling the scope of the Act to be extended to cover other practitioners and professions that provide health services.

The document link on this page discusses these provisions. Before you begin the process for regulation under the Act we recommend discussing this with Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ).

The need for regulation is based on criteria regarding public safety, under the Act. The process for a profession to become regulated is lengthy and is outlined below as follows.

  1. The prospective applicants meet with HWNZ in the Ministry of Health (the Ministry) to discuss issues when considering applying.
  2. The Ministry receives an application from the professional body or bodies.
  3. The Ministry undertakes a preliminary assessment of the application and seeks further information if required.
  4. If the Ministry accepts that the application makes a robust case, it convenes an expert panel to consider the application. This includes an independent assessment of whether the public is at risk of harm and whether it would be in the public interest to regulate the health service.
  5. If necessary, discussions may be held between the professional bodies and existing responsible authorities to seek agreement on whether the proposed new profession can be included in an existing authority.
  6. Subject to the Minister of Health’s agreement, the Ministry undertakes a consultation process and analyses submissions.
  7. The Ministry provides advice to the Minister regarding whether the profession should be regulated and the appropriate responsible authority to regulate it. If agreement has not been reached regarding an appropriate responsible authority, the Minister may assign the new profession to an existing responsible authority.
  8. If he agrees with the proposal, the Minister seeks agreement from Cabinet.  If the policy for the proposal is agreed by Cabinet an Order in Council is prepared by the Parliamentary Counsel Office.  This Order in Council will be considered by Cabinet and if agreed the Minister will recommend to the Governor-General that the profession is designated under the Act.
  9. The profession joins a responsible authority.

If you are considering applying to become a regulated profession we suggest that you contact us for a preliminary discussion.  If you have any queries about the criteria or application process, please email info@healthworkforce.govt.nz.

Current applications

There are several professions who have applied to become regulated under the Act. Applications for regulation under the Act have been received from:

  • clinical physiologists (July 2010, with renal technicians subsequently expressing interest)
  • practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) (October 2010)
  • paramedics (October 2011)
  • perfusionists (November 2014)
  • Western medical herbalists (May 2015)
  • oral health therapists (January 2017)
  • physician associates (February 2017).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners

In 2011, the Ministry consulted on the proposal to regulate the TCM profession which outlines the reasons for regulating a profession, a brief background on the profession and invited comments on the proposal.

Since then, there have been a number of meetings with the profession to identify suitable governance options.

Clinical physiologists (with renal dialysis technicians)

Clinical physiology includes clinical cardiac physiology, clinical respiratory physiology, and clinical sleep physiology.

A preliminary assessment was undertaken and further information requested and supplied. However, this application has not yet been formally assessed by an expert panel.

Paramedics

The Minister of Health has agreed that Ambulance New Zealand's application for regulating paramedics under the Act can proceed to the next stage of the application process.

In April 2016, the Ministry of Health convened an expert panel to review Ambulance New Zealand's application.  The expert panel advised that the paramedic profession meets the criteria for being considered for regulation.  The Minister reviewed the expert panel's advice in May 2016 and agreed that the Ministry of Health should undertake targeted stakeholder consultation about Ambulance New Zealand's application.

Perfusionists

A preliminary assessment is underway.

Western medical herbalists

We have made a preliminary assessment of the application and met with the applicants to discuss next steps.

Oral health therapy

The Dental Council of New Zealand has applied for oral health therapy to become a regulated profession under the Act. 

Designation under the Act would reflect current practice and competencies of recent graduates graduating as “oral health therapists”.

Oral health therapists have been graduating since 2008 and are currently registered by the Dental Council under two scopes: dental therapy and/ or dental hygiene. No new dental hygienists or dental therapists have graduated in New Zealand since the changes were made to the undergraduate qualifications. In July 2017 Cabinet agreed to the proposal.

To find out more, you can download the following:

Physician Associates

This application has not yet been assessed.

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