Before contacting the Board

As a member of the public, employer, colleague or health practitioner, you may become concerned about a chiropractor’s competence or conduct. Before referring the matter to the Board, it is worth considering the following:

  • Have you discussed your concerns with the practitioner?
  • Was it a one-off incident, or is a pattern emerging?
  • Was it a minor incident or a serious departure from accepted medical practise? If it was a departure, did the practitioner have an acceptable explanation?
  • Has there been a recent change in their behaviour or ability? If so, a health issue could be affecting their performance.

Some useful tips for self advocacy are available here https://www.hdc.org.nz/making-a-complaint/how-to-raise-your-concerns-directly/

Concern and Complaint categories

Concerns and complaints about practitioners fall into one of three categories:

  • Competence – is there an education/training gap?
  • Conduct – has there been a breach of professionalism, safe practice, or misconduct?
  • Health – is there a physical or mental health issue preventing the practitioner from being competent?

When making a complaint, it is important to note that

  • Your complaint must be made in writing.
  • A copy of your complaint will be sent to the practitioner concerned, and they will have the right to reply. This ensures the Board acts in accordance with the principles of natural justice and fulfils our obligations under the Privacy Act 2020.
  • There is an obligation to make a complaint if the practitioner’s alleged conduct involves public safety.

*Raising a concern is also referred to as ‘notification(s)’ and/or complaint.

Health and Disability Commissioner Advocacy Service

The role of the HDC is to promote respect for and observance of the rights of health consumers and disability services consumers and to investigate any action that appears to be in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights. 

You can view the Code and information on the Commissioner’s complaint processes by visiting the HDC website.

Complaints where the conduct or competence of a health practitioner has affected a health consumer (patient) are considered by the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) in the first instance. 

It is recommended in the first instance all consumer concerns are sent to the HDC – making a complaint. 

Any complaint received by the Board that alleges that the practice or conduct of a chiropractor has affected a health consumer must be forwarded to the HDC.  

After considering a complaint, the HDC may decide to refer the matter to the Board for consideration. If this happens, the Board will promptly notify the complainant and the chiropractor involved, assess the complaint and decide on a course of action to be taken.

flowchart of the HDC complaint process. 

The Board  cannot take any action while the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) is investigating your complaint.

Anonymous Complaints

Often the Board is unable to act on anonymous complaints. The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 and the principles of natural justice require that the complainant participates in the process. To ensure that the complaint includes all details and to allow the practitioner to fully answer the complaint the Board requests that all complaints are made in writing.  

If you have questions or concerns about a complaint matter or the process please feel free to contact the Registrar to discuss the matter. 

Public Safety

Public safety is our absolute priority in all cases. We do not have any powers to award damages or costs, or to impose discipline. We decide whether an issue of competence or conduct exists and take appropriate action, including determining whether the practitioner poses a serious risk of harm to the public. 

Please be aware that to ensure all principles of natural justice are met and thorough process is carried out, complaints matters will take time to resolve.

ACC Claims Issue

If you have an issue arising out of an ACC claims matter please visit https://www.acc.co.nz/im-injured/claim-help/.

Raising a Complaint

Once a complaint is received by the Board, the Registrar must determine if the complaint relates to a specific patient. If the complaint relates to a specific patient the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act requires that this complaint be referred on to the Health and Disability Commissioner. When a complaint is within the Board’s jurisdiction the Board will gather information from the complainant and the practitioner and determine what action, if any, is appropriate to protect public safety and ensure practitioner competence. Please be aware that this process takes time and that practitioner privacy rights may limit the information the Board is able to provide to the complainant on outcomes.  

Flowchart: pathways if a concern is raised about a chiropractor