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Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003

1: Preliminary and key provisions

4   Outline

    4 Outline

  (1)  Part 1 is concerned with preliminary matters, such as the definitions of
terms used in the Act. It also contains certain key provisions. These include
provisions that---

      (a)  prohibit persons who are not qualified to be registered as health
practitioners of a profession from claiming or implying to be health
practitioners of that profession:

      (b)  prohibit persons other than registered health practitioners of a
profession with current practising certificates from claiming to be practising
the profession:

      (c)  prohibit health practitioners from practising their professions
without current practising certificates or from practising their professions
their scopes of practice:

      (d)  authorise the making of Orders in Council restricting the provision
of the whole or part of certain health services to health practitioners who are
permitted to perform those activities by their scopes of practice.

  (2)  Part 2 sets out the conditions that a health professional must meet in
order to practise as a health practitioner under this Act. The Part includes
provisions that---

      (a)  require every health practitioner to be registered for a scope of

      (b)  require applicants for registration---

          (i)     to have the qualifications prescribed by the responsible
authority for the applicant's intended scope of practice; and

          (ii)    to be competent to practise within that scope of practice;

          (iii)   to be fit for registration, which includes the ability to
communicate effectively for the purposes of practising within that scope of

      (c)  stop a health practitioner from practising without a current
practising certificate:

      (d)  stop the authority, in the case of applications for practising
certificates, from approving those applications unless the authority is
satisfied that the health practitioners concerned are competent to practise in
accordance with their scopes of practice.

  (3)  Part 3 provides mechanisms for improving the competence of health
practitioners and for protecting the public from health practitioners who
practise below the required standard of competence or who are unable to perform
the required functions. These mechanisms include competence reviews, competence
programmes, recertification programmes, medical examinations, and protected
quality assurance activities. The Part also contains provisions

      (a)  allow health practitioners to notify the responsible authority if
they have reason to believe that another health practitioner may pose a risk of
to the public by practising below the required standard of competence:

      (b)  enable the responsible authority to order the interim suspension of
a health practitioner's practising certificate if
there are reasonable grounds for believing that the practitioner poses a risk
of serious harm to the public by practising below the required standard of

      (c)  enable the responsible authority to order the suspension of a health
practitioner if the authority is satisfied that the practitioner is unable to
perform the functions required for the practice of his or her profession
because of some mental or physical condition or if the practitioner has not
complied with a requirement for a medical examination:

      (d)  enable the Minister to confer protection on quality assurance
activities conducted to improve the practices or competence of health
practitioners and so
protect the confidentiality of information that becomes known solely as a
result of those activities and give those engaged in those activities immunity
from civil liability.

  (4)  Part 4 provides for the establishment by each authority of professional
conduct committees to investigate complaints referred to the
authority by the Health and Disability Commissioner.
Professional conduct committees are also required to investigate the
circumstances of certain offences committed by health practitioners. The Part
also establishes a single tribunal, called the Health Practitioners
Disciplinary Tribunal, to hear and determine charges brought against
practitioners by
the Director of Proceedings or by a professional conduct committee.

  (5)  Part 5 provides for appeals to a District Court against the decisions of
an authority, and for appeals to the High Court against decisions of the Health
Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

  (6)  Part 6 continues certain registration authorities as authorities under
the Act. It also establishes the Midwifery Council, the Osteopathic Council,
the Pharmacy Council. The Part also contains provisions that---

      (a)  enable additional health professions to be designated under the Act
and authorities to be appointed for such additional professions:

      (b)  set out the functions of authorities. These include---

          (i)     prescribing the qualifications required for scopes of

          (ii)    authorising the registration of health practitioners:

          (iii)   reviewing and maintaining the competence of health

          (iv)    setting standards of clinical competence, cultural
competence, and ethical conduct:

          (v)     setting programmes to ensure the ongoing competence of health

      (c)  provide for the membership of authorities:

      (d)  confer certain powers on the Minister in relation to authorities:

      (e)  require authorities to maintain public registers of health

  (7)  Part 7 contains (in subpart 1) miscellaneous provisions, including
provisions of general application (such as, for example, a provision on the way
notice is to be given under the Act), consequential amendments, repeals,
savings, and (in subpart 2) transitional provisions, including provisions for
the continued recognition of the registration of health practitioners who were,
immediately before the
 expiry of 1 year beginning on the date on which this Act received the Royal
assent, registered under a health-registration statute.

  (8)  This section is only a guide to the general scheme of this Act.

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