Regulating a new profession

There are 17 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 (see ‘Downloads’). Before you begin the process for regulation under the Act, we recommend discussing this with the Health Workforce directorate in the Ministry of Health.

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 Health Workforce to discuss issues when considering applying.
  2. Health Workforce receives an application from the professional body or bodies.
  3. Health Workforce undertakes a preliminary assessment of the application and seeks further information if required.
  4. If Health Workforce 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, Health Workforce undertakes a consultation process and analyses submissions.
  7. Health Workforce 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 us 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:

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

Chinese medicine

On 19 May 2021 the Cabinet Social Wellbeing Committee agreed that an Order in Council be made under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 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 (step 8). Nominations for members of the new Chinese Medicine Council will be sought early in 2022.

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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