Legislative Acts which establish boundaries of massage practice in New Zealand/Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003

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Objectives of the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003

The main purpose of this Act is to protect the health and safety of the public. It seeks to ensure that the treatment and healthcare received from a registered health practitioner is of a high standard. The Act does not yet cover massage therapists, but it is likely it will do so when the massage therapy profession develops a national registration protocol and national registration body.

The HPCA Act

  • ensures health practitioners are properly trained and qualified before they can be registered
  • requires health practitioners to continually update and improve their skills
  • establishes independent registering authorities to register and monitor health practitioners
  • establishes an independent Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.

Registering authorities (such as the proposed Massage Therapy Board) ensure that health practitioners:

  • are registered in a scope of practice which describes the health services they can provide
  • have the right qualifications for their scope of practice
  • have a current practising certificate (license) which has to be renewed each year
  • maintain and develop their skills and competence
  • have good English language and communication skills
  • are physically and mentally able to work.

Each registering authority also

  • maintains a register or list of health practitioners that is available to the public
  • monitors the quality and standard of practitioners’ work
  • if the quality and/or standard of a practitioner’s work are found to be unacceptable, the registering authority may require a practitioner to undertake some further training, practise under the supervision of another practitioner or limit the kind of services he or she can provide.

Complaints against practitioners can be dealt with by the

  • Health and Disability Commissioner, and/or
  • Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. The Tribunal considers serious disciplinary matters and can impose penalties ranging from fining the practitioner, ordering that the practitioner practise only under certain conditions (for example under supervision), to suspension or cancellation of registration.