Glossary of Terms

There are a number of terms used when talking about possible registration of ambulance officers and NZDF medics that will be new to people.

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act uses terms that will become meaningful, but are currently hard to come to grips with. We’ve defined some of the more common words below. If you want explanations for other terms you hear during the discussion on regulation, please email the website and we’ll clarify.

Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003

The New Zealand Act of Parliament which regulates health practitioners in order to protect public safety. It’s commonly referred to as the HPCA Act.


A set of rules, made by law, that apply to a group of people to make sure they are competent to be practicing the profession covered by those laws – in this instance the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.


An official list of names of those people who are qualified and meet the standard to be a health professional under the HPCA Act. The people on the register may or may not be practising.

Health Practitioner

The term used in the HPCA Act to describe the professionals who deliver health services.

Responsible Authority

The group of people appointed under the HPCA Act that is responsible for the registration and oversight of practitioners of a particular health profession.

Scope of practice

The health services that are able to be delivered by a health profession, or a group within that profession. It is how the Responsible Authority (with input from the profession) defines the services being provided.

Required standard of competence

The level of competence a health practitioner can reasonably be expected to practice at, within their scope of practice.

Competence Review

This is the way the Responsible Authority assesses the competence of a practitioner. The most common way a competence review is conducted is for the Responsible Authority to appoint three people, two practitioners and a lay person, to review the practice of the practitioners and make recommendations to the Responsible Authority.

Ambulance Services

All pre-hospital emergency ambulance services, including medics working in the New Zealand Defence Forces.

Basic Life Support

General pre-hospital emergency care in both life threatening and non-life threatening situations; non-invasive; seeks back up for life threatening situations.

Intermediate Life Support

Knowledge, severity assessment and technical skills build on BLS capability; at this level activity can be invasive and some medications can be used; manual defibrillation; venous access and intravenous fluid administration

Advanced Life Support

Advanced management in life threatening and non life threatening situations; knowledge, rationale, clinical judgment, technical skills and leadership are well developed; comprehensive pharmalogical regime, advanced respiratory support and airway skill; endotracheal intubation.