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Conduct concerns and the complaint process

The Medical Council’s main purpose is to promote and protect public health and safety in New Zealand. This includes setting standards that doctors are expected to meet. If a complaint or other information is received that a doctor’s conduct falls below the expected standard and/or presents a risk to public health and safety, we may commence our complaints process.

What happens when a complaint is received?

A complaint or information relating to a doctor’s conduct will be received by our Professional Standards team. If the complaint alleges that the practice or conduct of a doctor has affected a health consumer, the complaint must be referred to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC).[1]

Following the HDC process, the matter may be referred onto, or back to, the Medical Council. We must then act promptly to decide what action to take.

The matter will be reviewed by the Medical Council’s Complaints Triage Team (CTT). CTT may refer the matter to a full meeting of the Medical Council. The possible outcomes of that include requiring the doctor to undergo a Performance Assessment Committee process, and/or that the matter be investigated by a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).

Further information about the Medical Council’s complaint assessment principles is included in Principles for the assessment and management of complaints and notifications.

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What happens when a complaint is referred to a PCC?

If the Medical Council considers a complaint or information raises concerns about the conduct or the safety of a doctor’s practice, it may refer the matter to a PCC for investigation.

A PCC will then investigate the concerns, subject to the rules and principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.

At the end of its investigation, the PCC will make appropriate recommendation(s) and/or determination(s) pursuant to section 80 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.

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Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal

One of the determinations available to a PCC at the end of its investigation is to lay a charge against the doctor the subject of the investigation with the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT).

The HPDT hears and determines disciplinary proceedings brought against health practitioners by PCCs and the Director of Proceedings.

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[1] Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, s64.


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