About the Responsible Authority

Each health profession that is regulated under the Act is overseen by what’s called a Responsible Authority. This is a group of people who make sure the Act is implemented according to its requirements. They may do this with the help of an appointed Registrar and, if needed, staff.

The Responsible Authority is made up of people who are appointed by the Minister of Health. Most of these people come from the profession itself – they’re peers of those working in the sector who understand how their profession works. The Minister also appoints a small number of people from outside the profession to represent the public and users of ambulance services.

The Responsible Authority gets input from the profession to set up:

  • scopes of practice
  • standards of clinical competence, cultural competence and ethical conduct

They must do these tasks in consultation with the practitioners who will be covered by regulation, as well as others in the sector such as employers.

This group also sets up a register of practitioners covered by the Act. Using agreed criteria, processes and procedures that they put in place, they decide who can enter the profession, who stays on the register each year and who is removed from the register.

Each year a health practitioner who is registered under the HPCA Act has to apply for an Annual Practicing Certificate. If the practitioner meets the requirements of the Responsible Authority in terms of their proficiency and capability to practice they will have their Annual Practicing Certificate reissued.

The key focus is that the Responsible Authority must make sure the public can trust those on the register are competent and are able to practice safely.

Complaints on patient care that are made to the Responsible Authority are investigated by the Health and Disability Commissioner in the first instance. The Health and Disability Commissioner may refer a complaint back to the Responsible Authority for further action – especially if a review of a practitioner’s competence is necessary, or if more serious action needs to be taken.

The Act also makes the discipline of practitioners the responsibility of the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. The Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hears and determines disciplinary proceedings brought against health practitioners. The Tribunal considers disciplinary charges referred to it by the Director of Proceedings from the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner and professional conduct committees established by registration authorities.

The responsibilities of a Responsible Authority are to:

  • Develop a scope of practice for the practitioners it regulates to set out the tasks performed by them
  • Set the qualifications required for practitioners to be able to perform the tasks in the scope of practice
  • Accredit and monitor educational institutions and their training programmes
  • Authorise those applying for registration and consider applications for Annual Practicing Certificates
  • Review practitioners’ competence to perform the tasks outlined in the scope of practice and recognise programmes that help practitioners to maintain their competence
  • Receive and act on information about the competence of individual practitioners
  • Set the standards of clinical and cultural competence and ethical conduct
  • Consider the situation of practitioners who are unable to practice due to ill health
  • Promote education and training in the profession
  • Build public awareness of the responsibilities of the Responsible Authority
  • Liaise with the Responsible Authorities of other health professions on matters of common interest