The Osteopathic Council operates under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act). The Act was passed on 18 September 2003. Most of the provisions of the Act came into effect on 18 September 2004. The HPCA Act replaces the profession-specific legislation that was in force before this date.
The purpose of the Act is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that health practitioners are competent and fit to practise their professions.
The Act has regularised scopes of practice. Scopes of practice describe the contents of the profession. The scope of practice is required to be endorsed on each practitioner’s annual practising certificate. Every practitioner who practises must have a current practising certificate.
Section 7 is one of the key provisions of the Act. This section states that no person may claim to be practising a profession as a health practitioner of a particular kind or state or do anything that is calculated to suggest that the person practises or is willing to practise a profession as a health practitioner of that kind unless the person:
(a) is a health practitioner of that kind, and
(b) holds a current practising certificate as a health practitioner of that kind.
Health practitioners must not practise outside their authorised scope of practice. A copy of the Act can be viewed at www.legislation.govt.nz .
The Council's functions under the HPCA Act
Section 118 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 sets out the Council's functions:
- To authorise the registration of health practitioners under the Act, and to maintain registers.
- To consider applications for Annual Practising Certificates.
- To review and promote the competence of health practitioners.
- To recognise, accredit, and set programmes to ensure the ongoing competence of health practitioners.
- To receive and act on information from health practitioners, employers, and the Health and Disability Commissioner about the competence of health practitioners.
- To notify employers, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the Director-General of Health, and the Health and Disability Commissioner that the practice of a health practitioner may pose a risk of harm to the public.
- To consider the cases of health practitioners who may be unable to perform the functions required for the practice of the profession.
- To set standards of clinical competence, cultural competence, and ethical conduct to be observed by health practitioners of the profession.
- To liaise with other authorities appointed under the Act about matters of common interest.
- To promote education and training in the profession.
- To promote public awareness of the responsibilities of the authority.
- To exercise and perform any other functions, powers and duties that are conferred or imposed on it by or under the Act or any other enactment.
Accountability to Ministry of Health
- Each year the Council must give the Minister of Health an annual report, including the audited financial statements of the Council, to be presented to the House of Representatives by the Minister. Our most recent annual report can be viewed here.
- The Minister may also appoint an auditor to audit the records of the Council to determine whether the Council is complying, or has complied, with the provisions of the HPCA Act. A copy of the auditor's report must be presented to the House of Representatives by the Minister.
- The Minister may also ask the Council to supply statistical information relating the discharge of the functions of the authority.