Responsible authorities under the Act

Responsible authorities are bodies corporate legislated for by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.

The purpose of the Act is to protect the health and safety of the public, and responsible authorities fulfil that purpose by ensuring all health practitioners registered with them are fully competent in the practice of their profession.

Every health practitioner who practises in a regulated profession in New Zealand must be registered with the relevant responsible authority and hold an Annual Practising Certificate (APC) issued by that authority. Additionally, the Act specifically bars any individual from claiming to be a practitioner of a regulated profession, or in any way imply that they practise or are willing to practise a regulated profession, unless they are appropriately qualified, registered with the relevant authority, and hold an APC.

The HPCA Act also specifies registered health practitioners registered with a particular authority must not perform activities that fall outside the scope of practice for which they are registered. Scopes of practice for each profession are defined by the responsible authority in the way in which that authority sees fit. A scope of practice may include reference to common tasks performed by the profession; an area of science or learning within the profession; references to names and words commonly understood by those working in the health sector; and reference to illnesses or conditions to be diagnosed, treated or managed by the profession. Only practitioners registered under a scope of practice may use the title associated with their scope.

Responsible authorities also perform other functions. These include:

  • prescribing qualifications required for the profession’s scopes of practice, and accrediting and monitoring educational institutions that teach and award/confer these qualifications
  • considering applications for annual practising certificates
  • reviewing and promoting the competence of health practitioners
  • recognising, accrediting and setting programmes to ensure the ongoing competence of health practitioners
  • receiving and acting on information from concerned parties about the competence of health practitioners, and in turn notifying the relevant authorities if a health practitioner poses a risk of harm to the public
  • considering the case of a practitioner who may be unable to perform the functions required for the practice of the profession
  • setting standards of clinical competence, cultural competence and ethical conduct to be observed by health practitioners
  • promoting education and training within the profession.

For a complete list of the functions performed by responsible authorities, please refer to the legislation: HPCA Act 2003 - Functions of Authorities.

Responsible authorities are different to professional practitioners’ associations, such as the New Zealand Medical Association, and unions.

Please find a list of regulated professions below. Each profession is followed by the name of its responsible authority and a corresponding link to that authority’s website.

Professions regulated under the HPCA Act 2003
Profession Responsible authority
Chinese medicine services Chinese Medicine Council of New Zealand
Chiropractic Chiropractic Board
Dentistry, dental hygiene, clinical dental technology, dental technology, dental therapy and oral health therapy Dental Council
Dietetics Dietitians Board
Medical Laboratory Science, Anaesthetic Technology Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand
Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Medical Radiation Technologists Board
Medicine Medical Council of New Zealand
Midwifery Midwifery Council
Nursing Nursing Council of New Zealand
Occupational Therapy Occupational Therapy Board
Optometry and optical dispensing Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board
Osteopathy Osteopathic Council
Paramedic services Paramedic Council
Pharmacy Pharmacy Council
Physiotherapy Physiotherapy Board
Podiatry Podiatrists Board
Psychology Psychologists Board
Psychotherapy Psychotherapists Board

Performance reviews of responsible authorities

When the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 was amended in 2019, the requirement for independent performance reviews of responsible authorities (refer s 122A of the Act) was introduced. The background and rationale for introducing reviews were outlined in a consultation document published in May 2020.

The Ministry subsequently worked with the responsible authorities to draft general terms of reference and core performance standards for the reviews, which were then published for public consultation.

The final terms of reference and standards document, which was used for the first round of performance reviews in 2021, can be viewed here:

The Performance Review reports for each authority can be viewed on its website (refer list of authorities and website addresses above).

The Ministry will now work with the responsible authorities to review and revise the terms of reference and standards document in preparation for the next round of reviews.

Professions being considered for regulation under the Act

To see what applications for regulation are currently being considered, please see Regulating a new profession.

Professions regulated under other legislation

Social workers are not covered by the HPCA Act 2003, but are regulated under the Social Worker Registration Legislation Act 2019, which is administered by the Ministry of Social Development. Their regulatory body is the Social Workers Registration Board

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