About the Code
The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights (the Code) 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.
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 four times (1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014). One change was made in June 2004, to substitute a new version of Right 7(10).
Who is covered by the Code?
The Code applies to health and disability service providers who are providing health and disability services to consumers, regardless of whether or not those services are paid for.The Code also applies to hospitals and other health and disability institutions, and allows the Commissioner to enquire into system issues.
"Disability services" includes 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.
"Health services" are defined in the Act, and health service providers include all registered health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and dentists. Providers also include persons who hold themselves out as providing health services that may be considered outside the mainstream of medical practice, such as naturopaths, homeopaths, and acupuncturists.
Obligations under the Code
Every provider is subject to the duties in the Code. Every provider must take action to inform consumers of their rights and enable consumers to exercise their rights. A provider is not in breach of the Code if he/she/it has taken reasonable actions in the circumstances to give effect to the rights, and comply with the duties, in the Code. The onus is on the provider to prove that reasonable actions were taken.