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Formation of HDC
The Health and Disability Commissioner Act was enacted in October 1994.
The Act created the Office of the Commissioner - with the role
of promoting and protecting the rights of health and disability
services consumers, and facilitating the fair, simple, speedy, and
efficient resolution of complaints - with a national network of
independent advocates, under the Director of
Advocacy, and an independent prosecutor, the Director of
The Act was passed to implement the recommendations of Judge
Cartwright in her 1988 Cervical Cancer Inquiry Report. Judge
Cartwright stated that there was a strong need for the
establishment of a Commissioner as an independent complaints
resolution and educational body, and for a Code of patients'
The initial Bill was introduced to the House by the Minister of
Health, Helen Clark, in 1990. Following the health reforms in 1993
the Bill was broadened to cover disability services and disability
The first Commissioner, Robyn Stent, was appointed in December
The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers'
was made by regulations in 1996, and applies to all providers of
health and disability services.
The Code sets out ten rights, including the right to be treated
with respect, to be free from discrimination or exploitation, to
dignity and independence, to services of an appropriate standard,
to give informed consent, and to complain.
The complaint mechanisms under the Health and Disability
Commissioner Act have become the primary vehicle for dealing with
complaints about the quality of health care and disability services
in New Zealand.
Mental Health Commissioner
The Crown Entities Reform Act 2012 disestablished the
Mental Health Commission as of 1 July 2012. Consequently, advocacy
and monitoring functions in the mental health and addictions sector
were transferred to the Health and Disability Commissioner. In
addition, a new position of Mental Health Commissioner was
established within the Office of the Health and Disability