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The Code of Rights

The Code of Rights establishes the rights of consumers, and the obligations and duties of providers to comply with the Code. It is a regulation under the Health and Disability Commissioner Act.


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Establishment of the Code
The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights became law on 1 July 1996. It grants a number of rights to all consumers of health and disability services in New Zealand, and places corresponding obligations on providers of those services.

Reviews of the Code
The Code has been reviewed three times (in 1999, 2004 and 2009). One change was made in June 2004, to substitute a new version of Right 7(10).

Who does the Code apply to?
The Code extends to any person or organisation providing, or holding themselves out as providing, a health service to the public or to a section of the public - whether that service is paid for or not.

With regard to disability services, it extends to goods, services, and facilities provided to people with disabilities for their care or support, or to promote their independence, or for related or incidental purposes. Unlike health services, disability services do not have to be provided to the public in order to be covered by this legislation.

The Code therefore covers all registered health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, dentists etc, and in addition brings a level of accountability to all those who might be considered outside the mainstream of medical practice, eg. naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists, and so on. As well as applying to individual providers, the Code also applies to hospitals and other health and disability institutions. It allows the Commissioner to enquire into systems issues across professional boundaries. It does not extend to purchasing decisions or confer entitlement to any particular service.

Obligations under the Code
The obligation under the Code is to take "reasonable actions in the circumstances to give effect to the rights, and comply with the duties" in the Code.

The onus is on providers to show that such action has been taken. The Code does not override other legislation, and nothing in the Code requires providers to act in breach of a duty or obligation imposed by any enactment, or prevents a provider doing an act authorised by another enactment.