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Naming Policy

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 openness.

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. It explains:

* 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 3); and
* 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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