New Zealand Health Select Committee on Health Practitioners (Replacement of Statutory References to Medical Practitioners) Bill 2015


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7 October 2015

RACS notes that the Bill amends seven statutes to increase the range of functions performed by health practitioners that are currently restricted to medical practitioners.

The intent is that the amendments should "make it easier for the public to access statutory services from health practitioners and will facilitate innovative and effective practice by practitioners". Health practitioners that fall under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act) should be sufficiently regulated and competent to enable them to perform their statutory responsibilities. The existing statutes were instituted to protect the public and the Health Select Committee needs to ensure that protection continues. While the proposed changes may make access to services easier, there is little evidence to suggest that the changes will "facilitate innovative and effective practice".

The HPCA Act defines a health practitioner as "a person who is, or is deemed to be, registered with an authority as a practitioner of a particular health profession". Health practitioners encompass a considerable range of training, knowledge and skills, many of which are not interchangeable. RACS acknowledges that some procedures or processes currently carried out by medical practitioners may be safely devolved to other health practitioners.