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 Imaging and Radiation Therapy||Medical Radiation Technologists Board|
|Medicine||Medical Council of New Zealand|
|Nursing||Nursing Council of New Zealand|
|Occupational Therapy||Occupational Therapy Board|
|Optometry and optical dispensing||Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians 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 the 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.
View the consultation document, submissions received, a summary of the submissions, and a document explaining the changes made in response to submissions:
- Core Performance Standards for Responsible Authorities – Consultation document (Word, 315 KB)
- Core Performance Standards for Responsible Authorities – Consultation document (PDF, 273 KB)
- Core Performance Standards for Responsible Authorities – Consultation submissions 1 to 69 (Word, 2 MB)
- Core Performance Standards for Responsible Authorities – Consultation submissions 1 to 69 (PDF, 2 MB)
- Summary of submissions regarding core performance standards for responsible authorities (Word, 312 KB)
- Summary of submissions regarding core performance standards for responsible authorities (PDF, 328 KB)
- Changes made in response to submissions regarding core performance standards for responsible authorities (Word, 288 KB)
- Changes made in response to submissions regarding core performance standards for responsible authorities (PDF, 137 KB)
View the final terms of reference and standards document - this is the document that will be used for the first round of performance reviews, beginning in 2021:
- General terms of reference for performance reviews of responsible authorities (Word, 296 KB)
- General terms of reference for performance reviews of responsible authorities (PDF, 214 KB)
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.