Page Section: Centre Content Column
Review of the Act and Code 2004
The Review of the Health and Disability Commissioner
Act 1994 and the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers'
Rights (PDF, 845Kb) was reported to the Minister of Health, and
was tabled by the Minister in Parliament on 25 August 2004.
The review process started in November 2003 when invitations
were sent out to key stakeholders asking for preliminary feedback
on the operation of the Act and Code. Those comments,
together with the Commissioner's own views, were compiled in a
consultation document that was distributed in February 2004.
The consultation document (PDF, 386Kb) canvassed a
wide range of issues, including the changes that are imminent under
the HDC Amendment Act 2003, and a number of key provisions were
highlighted for discussion.
During March and April 2004, submissions were again invited from
interested organisations and individuals, as well as from the
public at large as part of a nationwide consultation process.
Release of the consultation document coincided with national and
local media releases announcing the reviews. The HDC free
phone 0800 number was available for those wishing to request
information or to make an oral submission. The consultation
document was also posted on the HDC website and received 1,908 hits
during March and April 2004.
In addition to the invitation for submissions, feedback on the
Act and Code was obtained during a series of meetings. Public
meetings were held throughout the country and were advertised
beforehand by public notice and local media releases. Māori
and Pacific Island Focus group meetings were also held.
Sixty-three submissions were received in response to the
consultation process. Many of the submissions applauded the
work of the Health and Disability Commissioner and supported the
changes coming into effect in September 2004. Other common
areas of discussion included access to HDC services by disabled
consumers, alternative structures for HDC advocacy services, the
recent amendment to right 7(10), whether consumer responsibilities
should be included in the Code, and whether the Code should include
a right to access services. A number of submissions also made
operational suggestions that have been, or will be, adopted by the
The submissions were analysed and incorporated into the
Commissioner's Report which was presented to the Minister of Health
on 30 June 2004. The Report confirms that, overall, the Act
and Code are operating effectively. The Commissioner has,
however, suggested that reviews of the Act and Code occur less
frequently, that the Act reflect the Office's current practice of
honouring Treaty principles and that the Code be amended to cover
research involving consumers who are not competent to consent.
"Although this review has confirmed that little legislative
change is required, it has been a valuable opportunity to receive
feedback from those who use the Act and Code on a daily basis, and
to raise awareness about how the Act will change in September,"
says Commissioner Ron Paterson.
Although the report has recommended changes to the Act and Code,
those changes will not come into effect unless the Government
decides to adopt the Commissioner's recommendations.