Legal requirements (New Zealand)
Establishing a successful private medical practice requires not only clinical but also business acumen. Before opening a private practice for business, a psychiatrist needs to establish a number of clinical and financial elements of good practice to ensure it operates lawfully and ethically.
This document discusses the fundamental legal requirements of a private psychiatry practice in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The document is not comprehensive and psychiatrists will need to also seek advice from their accountant, lawyer and Medical Defence Organisation.
In accordance with the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, to practice medicine in Aotearoa New Zealand medical practitioners must:
- be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) within a scope of practice
- hold a current Practising Certificate.
Practicing Certificates are valid for up to 12 months. The time of year (four cycles per year) in which they will be issued is determined by the date of birth of a medical practitioner.
A renewal notice is issued to medical practitioner six weeks before their current Practicing Certificate expires. Failure to renew a Practising Certificate before the old one expires renders a medical practitioner without a current one.
Practising while not a current practising certificate is grounds for disciplinary action (See HPCA Act S.100 (1) (d)). The patients of medical practitioners who do not hold a current Practising Certificate may be disadvantaged. For example, patients may not qualify for payments from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) (see below) or for reimbursement from their medical insurance that they would have otherwise received.
.For more information about medical registration in Aotearoa New Zealand refer to the MCNZ.
Health Provider Index Number
The New Zealand Health Provider Index (HPI) is a national database that uniquely identifies and holds information about health practitioners, practitioner organisations (employers) and health care facilities. The HPI, which comprises three separate indexes, enables health information to be transferred, accessed and managed securely. One of the indexes is a Common Person Number (CPN), which is issued to all health practitioners who provide health services.
In accordance with a Data Provision Agreement, the MCNZ supplies health practitioner data to the Ministry of Health for the purposes of the HPI. The data includes public register information about all registered medical practitioners.
.For more information about HPI Numbers refer to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
Professional indemnity insurance
The medical indemnity of a medical practitioner registered in New Zealand may be invalid without a current practising certificate. For further information, refer to the MCNZ A guide to completing your practising certificate.
Controlled drug prescriptions
Controlled drugs include medicines available on prescription from a health professional. In accordance with Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977, prescriptions for drugs must be hand-written on a form provided by the Director-General of Health or on a paper form that is electronically generated by the controlled drug prescriber from an approved system and personally signed by the prescriber.
Controlled drug prescription pads order forms are available from the New Zealand Ministry of Health website. For enquiries call 0800 353 2425 / 06 349 1987 or visit the website.
Also refer to MCNZ Good prescribing practice.
Accident Compensation Corporation
Medical practitioners registered in Aotearoa New Zealand should be familiar with the requirements of the national accident compensation scheme, which is administered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The ACC provides comprehensive 24-hour, no-fault personal injury cover for everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand, including overseas visitors. In return, the ability to sue for personal injury covered by ACC is waived. It does not cover chronic illnesses that are not accident-induced.
ACC providers of treatment and other health services deliver services to people with injury claims. In accordance with the Accident Compensation Act 2001, medical practitioners are eligible treatment providers. Treatment providers must register with the ACC before they can be a provider. Registration enables treatment providers to receive payment for services to patients with approved injury claims and, in most cases, to lodge claims on behalf of their patients.
.For more information about the ACC refer to Accident Compensation Corporation.
Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014
Medical practitioners registered in Aotearoa New Zealand should be familiar with the requirements of the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014 (the Act). The Act, which is a component of the Ministry of Health’s Children’s Action Plan, mandates measures to better protect children who are at risk of abuse and neglect, either in their homes or in the community.
The Act defines two categories for children’s workers: core and non-core. Core children’s workers, which includes medical practitioners, are those who regularly work alone with children or have primary responsibility for them.
In accordance with the Act, any individual undertaking regular and unsupervised work with children in an organisation that receives state funding must be safety checked every three years.
For more information about the requirements of the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014 refer to the New Zealand Ministry of Health – Children’s Action Plan: Children’s worker safety checking and child protection policies.
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This information is intended to provide general guide to practitioners, and should not be relied on as a substitute for proper assessment with respect to the merits of each case and the needs of the patient. The RANZCP endeavours to ensure that information is accurate and current at the time of preparation, but takes no responsibility for matters arising from changed circumstances or information or material that may have become subsequently available.