Information for the Public
The document below is published by the Ministry of Health describing the purpose of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act).
Confidence in your health practitioner
The Midwifery Council of New Zealand is responsible for protecting the health and safety of members of the public by providing mechanisms to ensure that midwives are competent and fit to practise midwifery.
The HPCA Act makes it an offence for a person who is not a registered midwife to claim to be a registered midwife. However provided they do not hold themselves out to be a midwife, it does not stop an unregistered person from offering midwifery services, on the basis that a consumer can choose for themselves whether they seek maternity care from a registered midwife or someone who is not. However, registered midwives hold midwifery qualifications, are subject to various requirements relating to maintaining ongoing competence and they uphold a code of Professional Conduct and ethics. The Midwifery Council strongly recommends that consumers seek maternity care only from a midwife who is registered with the Midwifery Council and who holds a current practising certificate. More details about these are set out below and a midwife's status can be checked on the Register on this website.
Before they can be registered, midwifery students in New Zealand have to:
- successfully complete a four year Bachelor of Midwifery programme at one of the four accredited Midwifery Schools (attached to tertiary institutions); and
- pass the National Midwifery Examination set by the Midwifery Council; and
- satisfy the Midwifery Council that they are fit for registration as defined by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.
- more than 2400 clinical hours completed
- more than 1920 theory hours completed
- more than 4800 total hours completed
- no more than 72-75 credits Recognition Prior Learning (without prior permission)
- has participated in 25 follow-throughs
- has performed at least 100 antenatal assessments
- has performed at least 100 postnatal assessments
- has performed at least 100 postnatal assessments of babies
- no less than 40 births facilitated
- no more than 4 years in programme (without prior permission)
- Head of School has confirmed competence and fitness
Midwives who qualified overseas and who wish to work in New Zealand have to satisfy the Midwifery Council that:
- they are registered as a midwife in the country in which they completed their training; and
- their midwifery qualification, post-registration practise and post-registration further training and education, considered as a whole, is equivalent in content and competencies to the New Zealand qualifications for registration; and
- they can communicate in and comprehend English to the Midwifery Council's required standard; and
- they are fit for registration as defined by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, which includes providing a current Certificate of Good Standing issued by their overseas registration authority.
Your midwife should show you her practising certificate. If she does not, ask to see it. It may be an annual practising certificate or an interim practising certificate. Any conditions on her practice will be listed on the reverse of the card. If a midwife cannot or will not show you her practising certificate we recommend that you find another midwife and notify the Midwifery Council.You can also check the status of your midwife (and find the names of registered midwives in your area) by searching the public Register. The Midwifery Council does NOT make public the contact details of midwives.
Other ways in which the public is protected
The Midwifery Council has established policy and processes in other areas to provide a framework for the regulation of midwives.
- Pre-registration education (for Entry to the Register of Midwives)
- Recertification Programme to maintain competence of midwives at entry level
- Auditing processes to assess midwives engagement in the Recertification Programme.
- Return to Practice Programme for midwives who have been out of practice for three or more years
- Mechanisms to deal with issues such as :
- Health problems that impact on ability to practise
- Ongoing competence
- Professional Conduct
A major focus of this regulatory framework is to ensure the ongoing competence of the midwifery workforce such that the care provided by midwives is safe and meets acceptable professional standards.
Processes are in place for members of the public to complain or seek further advice if they are not satisfied with the care they have received from a midwife.