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Competence concerns

If you have a concern about the competence or ability of a doctor and you are thinking about raising it with us, please consider the information below before doing so.

One of our professional standards team will be happy to talk to you about the process, what information is needed and the support available to you.

You can contact us by calling 0800 286 801 or sending an email to us at

Are you a patient?

If you are concerned about the treatment you have received and want to make a complaint, you should first contact the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC). For further information please refer to our making a complaint information.

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Are you an employer or a colleague?

If you have concerns about the performance of an employee or colleague, consider the following:

  • Was there a one-off incident that concerns you, or does there appear to be a pattern of poor performance emerging? (e.g. has the doctor failed to prescribe properly on one occasion in the last 3 months, or on four separate occasions?)
  • Have you talked to the doctor about your concerns?
  • Was it a one-off incident or a serious departure from accepted medical practise? Did the doctor have an acceptable explanation for this departure?
  • Has there recently been a change in the doctor’s behaviour or ability? If so, you may want to consider the possibility of a health issue impacting on the doctor’s ability to perform. Read more about health concerns.

If you raise your concerns with us, please note that any information you provide must come with your consent to send onto the doctor for their comment, as per the principles of natural justice. If we do not have your consent, we are unable to act on your concerns.

The more information you provide to us, detailing examples of the doctor's poor performance, the more informed we are to make a decision about what further action, if any, may be required. This could include:

  • requiring the doctor to undergo a performance assessment
  • requiring the doctor to undergo a recertification programme
  • sending the doctor an educational letter
  • placing the doctor under supervision
  • placing conditions on the doctor's practice
  • requiring the doctor to cease practise while the concerns are investigated further
  • taking no further action
  • referring the concerns to a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) for investigation. Read more about the PCC process.

For employers: if a doctor resigns or is dismissed for reasons relating to competence, you, as their employer, in accordance with the Act, must tell us the reasons for their resignation or dismissal.

Download What to do when you have concerns about a colleague (December 2010,PDF,132 KB)

Download Unprofessional behaviour and the health care team (August 2009,PDF,136 KB)

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Legal liability

You may want to tell the doctor that you are thinking about letting us know of your concerns. If you do tell us of about your concerns, you will not be legally liable for any statements made so long as you have acted in good faith and with reasonable care.




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