Regulating a new profession

There are 18 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 professions that provide health services.

The document link on this page discusses these provisions (see ‘Downloads’). Before you begin the process for regulation under the Act, we recommend discussing this with Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) officials.

The need for regulation is determined based on assessment of the risk of harm to the health and safety of the public. The process for a profession to become regulated is lengthy and is outlined below.

  1. The prospective applicant(s) meet with the Ministry of Health to discuss issues when considering applying.
  2. The Ministry of Health receives an application from the professional body or bodies.
  3. The Ministry of Health undertakes a preliminary assessment of the application and seeks further information if required.
  4. If the Ministry of Health 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 profession.
  5. If necessary, discussions may be held between the applicants 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 of Health undertakes a consultation process and analyses submissions.
  7. The Ministry of Health then provides advice to the Minister regarding whether the profession should be regulated and the appropriate responsible authority to regulate it. (Note: If agreement has not been reached regarding an appropriate authority, the Minister may assign the new profession to an existing authority.)
  8. If in agreement with the proposal, the Minister seeks agreement from Cabinet.  
  9. If the proposal is agreed to by Cabinet, an Order in Council is prepared by the Parliamentary Counsel Office. The Order in Council will then be considered by Cabinet and - if agreed - the Minister will recommend to the Governor-General that the profession is designated under the Act.
  10. The profession then either joins or is established as a responsible authority.
  11. The Minister then appoints members of the responsible authority.

If you are considering applying to become a regulated profession, we suggest that you contact the Ministry of Health for a preliminary discussion.  If you have any queries about the criteria or application process, please email [email protected].

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 physiology (July 2010)
  • cardiac perfusion (November 2014)
  • physician associates (February 2017)
  • Western medical herbalists (May 2015).

Chinese medicine

On 20 September 2021 an Order in Council was made under the Legislation Act 2012 to designate the Chinese medicine profession (including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and tui na massage therapy) as a health profession and to establish the Chinese Medicine Council as the responsible authority appointed in respect of the health profession. Nominations for members of the new Chinese Medicine Council were then sought and on 17 May 2022 the first Council members were appointed by the Minister of Health. The new Council is now completing the foundational work to enable registration of practitioners (eg, establishing scopes of practice, prescribing qualifications). Once the Council has set up a website, a link to it will be included in the list of RAs provided at Responsible authorities under the Act.

Clinical physiology

Clinical physiology includes cardiac, exercise, neuro, renal, respiratory, and sleep physiology.

This application is currently on hold at the request of the applicants.

Cardiac perfusion

An expert panel has assessed the application (step 4) and discussions have been held regarding the profession being included in an existing responsible authority (step 5). Subject to the Minister of Health’s agreement, Health Workforce will soon undertake a public consultation process (step 6).

Physician associates

A preliminary assessment (step 3) of the application is underway.

Western medical herbalism

A preliminary assessment (step 3) of the application is underway.

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