Mental Health District Inspectors

District inspectors’ provide an important safeguard for people who have concerns about compulsory care or treatment.

District Inspectors are lawyers appointed by the Minister of Health to protect the rights of people receiving treatment under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 (the Mental Health Act), or the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003 (IDCCR Act).

They are independent from the Ministry of Health and from health and disability services.

You can contact a district inspector in your area by choosing an inspector from the Mental health district inspectors list.

Roles and responsibilities

The main responsibilities of district inspectors are to ensure that the provisions of these Acts are upheld, including people’s specific rights set out in each Act. District inspectors have three main roles:

  1. ensuring that every individual who is subject to a compulsory order under either the Mental Health Act or the IDCCR Act is cared for in accordance with the statutory requirements
  2. monitoring quality and safety of mental health and disability services providing treatment to people who are or subject to these Acts (including those under assessment)
  3. investigating complaints and conducting inquiries.

A district inspector must meet with the patient or care recipient early in the compulsory assessment process to advise them of their situation and their right to a review in the District Court. District inspectors can also facilitate legal representation for such a review.

If you have questions about the treatment you are receiving, your local district inspector will be able to advise you about your rights as a patient and discuss how you can apply for a review of your condition.

You can also complain to a district inspector if you think your rights under each Act have been denied or breached.  If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint investigated by the district inspector, you can ask the Mental Health Review Tribunal to review the district inspectors’ investigation.

District inspectors can only look into breaches of specific rights. You also have other health and disability consumer rights. The Health and Disability Commissioner offers a free assistance service to help you raise your concerns about any health service you receive in New Zealand. The service can help with a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner as well.

Making a complaint

Any complaints made about a district inspector will be referred to the Director of Mental Health for investigation. If you need to make a complaint about a district inspector,  the following diagram outlines the process:

Process for complaints about District Inspectors

Process for complaints about District Inspectors
Click to enlarge image

Process for complaints about District Inspectors

1: The Director of Mental Health receives complaints about District Inspectors from the public or from the Minister.

2: The Director sends a letter of acknowledgement to the complainant and/or to the Minister outlining the complaints process.

3: The Director will assess the complaint, and may seek further information from the complainant.

Option 1: If the complaint can't be addressed by the Director, the complainant will be notified, and may be directed to another agency.

Option 2a: The director will contact the District Inspector involved and request their response to the complaint.

Option 2b: The Director will assess the evidence and may seek to remedy the situation.

Option 2c: The Director will order an investigation if the complaint raises procedural concerns about the District Inspector's investigations or involves any of the following concerns about the District Inspector:

  • failure to perform
  • negligence of duty
  • misconduct
  • inability to perform.

Option 2d: Investigations will be carried out by a former District Inspector and Psychiatrist chosen by the Director.

Option 2e: Following the investigation, the Director will assess the evidence and consider the most appropriate response.

Option 2f: Depending on the circumstances, the director may decide to:

  • attempt to remedy the situation (eg. counselling the District Inspector)
  • dismiss the complaint
  • ask the Minister of Health to suspend or remove the District Inspector pursuant to section 94(7)(c).

Final: The District Inspector as well as the complainant and/or the Minister will be informed of the Director’s decision and/or the outcome.

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