What happens if something goes wrong or if you aren’t happy with your midwife?
The principal purpose of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 is to protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring all health practitioners are competent and fit to practise.
Most midwives are competent, conscientious and professional in the way they practise but on some occasions things can go wrong.
What you can do
If you have a concern about a midwives’ conduct, competence or health there are several things you can do.
Undertake a resolution process
The New Zealand College of Midwives offers a resolutions process to help you talk through your concerns with your midwife.
Contact Health and Disability Advocacy service
Advocates assist people with making sure their rights are respected. They help consumers to resolve complaints about health or disability services. The Advocacy Service is part of the Health and Disability Commission but operates independently of it.
Lay a complaint
Any complaints we receive about a midwife's practice or conduct must be referred on to the Health and Disability Commissioner who decides whether he will investigate and who considers whether there has been a breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights. The Commissioner may refer the matter to the Council which will consider whether further action is required. If you have a complaint about a midwife you can contact the Health and Disability Commissioner's office where you will find information about the complaints procedure.
Notify the Council if you have concerns about a midwife
When the Council receives a notification about a midwife, it makes inquiries and decides if there is a need to take action. There are a number of things Council can do, including initiating a competence review. These reviews are designed to assess a midwife’s competence, to educate and to assist a midwife to improve their standard of practice. However, if a midwife is not practising to a high level of competence, the Council will take steps to protect the public. If a notification gives Council reason to believe the midwife may pose a risk of serious harm to the public, it can suspend the midwife or put conditions on their practice.
On some occasions, either the Council or the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal finds that there are concerns serious enough to warrant suspension of the midwife from practice. To ensure we are transparent and accountable, you can find a list of recently suspended midwives on this website.
Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal
The Tribunal is an independent judicial authority whose members are appointed by the Minister of Health. Charges are brought against a health practitioner by either the Director of Proceedings for the Health and Disability Commissioner or a Professional Conduct Committee of a regulatory authority like the Midwifery Council. When a charge of professional misconduct is found by the Tribunal to be proven, it usually orders its decision be published on the relevant authority's website so everyone can see that health professionals are accountable for their practice. It also makes it clear to both the public and to the profession what the standard of practice reasonably to be expected of a health professional.