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When does HDC publicly name providers?
For the first decade after the Code of Consumers' Rights came into
force (on 1 July 1996), HDC published investigation reports without
naming the health and disability providers involved. The focus was
on educating the sector, and a policy of blanket name suppression
ensured maximum provider co-operation with those processes.
By 2006, however, the Commissioner was concerned that this level
of secrecy was undermining public confidence in the health
professions and complaint handling procedures. Consumers were being
denied information that could influence their choice of
practitioner or facility and there was a growing public desire for
The Commissioner decided to name district health boards in Code
breach opinions on the basis that they should be publicly
accountable for the quality of care they fund or provide. In 2007,
the policy was extended to include other group providers and
individual providers (in limited circumstances).
The policy prompted a strong response from the sector,
particularly in relation to HDC naming group providers such as rest
homes, private hospitals, residential care facilities, medical
centres and pharmacies. In light of these concerns, the
Commissioner put the policy on hold (no providers having been named
in the interim), consulted the sector and reviewed the naming
policy in 2008.
The naming policy (PDF, 97KB) dated 1 July 2008
sets out the new policy developed as a result of that consultation.
* the operation of the naming policy (section 1);
* the interaction between the Official Information Act 1982 (the
OIA) and the policy (section 2);
* the legislative basis allowing the Commissioner to name (section
* the factors taken into account by the Commissioner when deciding
to introduce this policy (section 4).
The separate Consultation Review (PDF, 55Kb) document
summarises concerns raised during the consultation process and
HDC's response on those issues.
It is important to note that the policy applies only to naming by
HDC. Unlike a Court or Tribunal, the Commissioner has no legal
power to order name suppression, so it is always possible for
parties to an investigation to put names in the public arena.
The policy applies to breach opinions issued from 1 July 2008.
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