Statements, definitions and publications

Our Statements outline the standards we expect of doctors. They set out the principles and values that define good medical practice, including medical care and prescribing, communication and consent, cultural safety, and professional conduct.

The Medical Council has published principles and procedures covering notifications management, performance assessment, and professional conduct committee processes.

All doctors must be familiar with our definitions of the practice of medicine, clinical and non-clinical practice, and fitness to practise, and follow this guidance.

Employment of doctors

  • Employment of doctors and the HPCAA

    This document provides general advice to employers (including Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand and some PHOs) about their responsibilities as an employer of a doctor.

Good medical practice

  • Good Medical Practice

    Our "Good medical practice" publication provides guidance to doctors on the standards of practice we expect.

Medical care

  • Medical emergencies - a doctor's duty to help

    This statement outlines how doctors should respond in an emergency and highlights a number of obligations that apply in that situation.

  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

    Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) refers to therapies and treatments that are not commonly accepted in conventional medical practice, but are sometimes used alongside or instead of conventional medical treatments. This statement guides doctors in situations where their patients are using CAM, and outlines what we expect when doctors practise CAM.

  • Cosmetic procedures

    This statement outlines Council's expectations of doctors who perform cosmetic procedures. These include standards relating to training, skill and expertise, advertising and obtaining consent from the patient.

  • This statement outlines the rights and responsibilities of health care workers and infected health care workers in relation to transmissible major viral infections.

  • Providing care to yourself and those close to you

    Doctors are often asked for input by their family and friends. This may include requests for medical advice or a prescription, or more substantial involvement such as performing a procedure. This statement explains why doctors must avoid treating themselves and those they have a close personal relationship with.

  • Resource constraints

    Resource constraints are a reality in health care. For doctors, this often means prioritising based on clinical need and waiting lists. This statement guides doctors working in a resource-constrained environment by setting out ethical principles and practical advice.

Good prescribing practice

  • Prescribing

    Prescribing medicines and treatment is an essential part of medical practice. This statement outlines what good prescribing practice involves and the legal requirements doctors must comply with.

  • Sport and performance enhancing medicines

    Certain medicines have the potential to enhance athletic performance or an individual's physique. We set out in this statement our position on doctors who prescribe, administer and supply performance-enhancing medicines, or who assist others in doing so.

Cultural safety

  • Cultural safety

    This statement outlines what cultural safety means and why it is important. The document reflects the evolution of thinking away from the cultural competence of doctors – that is acquiring skills and knowledge of other cultures – towards self-reflection of a doctor’s own attitudes and biases that may affect the cultural safety of patients. Council requires doctors to meet these cultural safety standards.

  • Cultural Safety Baseline Data Report - October 2020

    This independent report, produced in partnership with Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa (Te ORA), outlines findings of the current state of cultural safety and health equity delivered by doctors practising in Aotearoa New Zealand, and experienced by patients and whānau. The report on Baseline Data Capture: Cultural Safety, Partnership and Health Equity Initiatives has been republished in October 2020 to allow for the inclusion of an additional indicator on appropriate dispensing of medication for gout.

  • Māori experience disparities in outcomes compared to the rest of the population across nearly all areas of health due to inequity in determinants of health, including access to quality health care. This document outlines Council’s position on how doctors can support the achievement of best health outcomes for Māori. It also provides guidance for healthcare organisations to support cultural safety and Māori health equity. This document should be read in conjunction with Council’s Statement on cultural safety.


  • During the course of a medical career, a doctor may be involved in management or have a leadership role. This statement outlines the standards doctors are expected to meet when they take on such roles. While doctors in a leadership role have a duty to their workplace and the wider community, their first consideration must always be the interests and safety of patients.


  • Concerns about another doctor

    All doctors have a duty to act on their concerns about another doctor, but doctors in management roles have an extra responsibility to ensure that there are appropriate reporting procedures in place, and these procedures are known to staff who may need to use them. This statement provides guidance for doctors who are concerned about a medical colleague's conduct, performance, competence or health, and provides suggestions on what to do and who to approach.

  • Medical assessments for third parties

    Doctors are sometimes asked by a third party (such as an insurance company or ACC) to conduct medical assessments of patients. This statement explains the role of the assessing doctor and the standard of care expected of them within an assessing relationship.

  • Commercial organisations - doctors' responsibilities

    Health-related commercial organisations share some common goals with doctors: they seek to prevent, control, cure and manage diseases, or physical and mental conditions, and may conduct research to improve and advance health care. However, health-related commercial organisations can also have different and potentially conflicting goals in that generating a profit is often a principal goal whereas a doctor’s primary concern must always be the care of patients. This statement outlines our expectations when doctors interact with health-related commercial organisations, and provides guidance on recognising, assessing and managing conflicts of interest (including perceived conflicts of interest) that may arise.

  • Medical certification

    Doctors are often asked to sign certificates for a wide range of purposes, such as confirming sickness, impairment or death. This statement outlines factors to consider, and the standards that doctors must follow, when issuing a medical certificate.

  • Professional boundaries

    This statement outlines the doctor's responsibility to maintain professional boundaries with patients and covers the inherent power imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship, gifts, bequests and loans, other financial transactions, acting as a representative or enduring power of attorney, and social media.

  • Sexual boundaries

    This statement outlines the doctor's responsibility to maintain sexual boundaries with patients, includes advice on what to do if boundaries are threatened, and offers guidance on sexual relationships with former patients and with family members of patients.

  • Unprofessional behaviour

    As a doctor, you have an obligation to be respectful and professional as your behaviour may affect how a health team functions, how care is delivered to patients, and the public’s trust and confidence in the medical profession. If you have concerns about the conduct, competence or safety of a doctor’s practice, you should notify the Medical Council.


  • Sexual boundaries

    This statement outlines the doctor's responsibility to maintain sexual boundaries with patients, includes advice on what to do if boundaries are threatened, and offers guidance on sexual relationships with former patients and with family members of patients.

Notification management

  • The purpose of these principles is to provide a framework for good decision-making about notifications assessed and managed by the Council. The principles are not intended to cover every specific scenario but rather provide guidance in how notifications should be assessed and managed. The framework applies to the decisions of the Notifications Triage Team (NTT) and of Council.

Performance assessment committees

  • The performance assessment - what you can expect

    Under the HPCAA, doctors can have their competence or performance reviewed at any time, or in response to concerns about their practice. This guide outlines what you can expect if you are undergoing a performance assessment

  • Assessing Doctors Performance

    This document by Dr Ian St George, a former Council medical adviser, outlines the practice and theory of performance assessments. A range of topics are covered, from ‘How to identify an underperforming doctor’ to ‘Assessing the doctor who practises complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)’. It is particularly helpful for doctors wanting to avoid under performance and professional isolation.

  • This handbook is intended as a guide for doctors undergoing performance assessments and aims to provide you with an understanding of how performance assessments work,
    and to ensure that there are no surprises for you throughout the assessment process

Professional conduct committees