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.
|Dentistry, dental hygiene, clinical dental technology, dental technology, dental therapy and oral health therapy||Dental Council|
|Medical Laboratory Science, Anaesthetic Technology||Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand|
|Medical Radiation Technology||Medical Radiation Technologists Board|
|Occupational Therapy||Occupational Therapy Board|
|Optometry and optical dispensing||Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board|
Professions being considered for regulation under the Act
Traditional Chinese Medicine is currently being considered for regulation under the Act.
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.