Complaints are raised through the Board's Registrar who, in the first instance, must determine if the complaint relates to a specific health consumer or is based more generally on issues of competence, fitness to practice or conduct.
The Board cannot act on anonymous complaints, so a complainant must provide a name and contact details.
If the complaint concerns a particular health consumer
This kind of complaint must by law be referred to the Health and Disability Commissioner. The Board would send such complaints it receives to the Commissioner, however the Board recommends that such complaints be sent directly to the Health and Disability Commissioner, PO Box 1791, Auckland, in writing and in sufficient detail. The Commissioner will liaise with the Board as necessary.
If the Board receives such a complaint and/or the scope of the complaint is not clear, the Board will refer the complaint to the Commissioner for a preliminary assessment.
The Commissioner has a number of options available for dealing with such complaints. He may decide it is appropriate for the complaint to be dealt with by the Dietitians Board.
In such cases the Board will:
- Assess the complaint
- Consider, in light of the nature and circumstances of the complaint, the action or actions that the Board should take to respond to it
- Decide whether to refer the complaint to a special Professional Conduct Committee set up by the Board under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.
Health and Disability Commissioner Advocacy Service
The Health and Disability Commissioner (“HDC”) offers a free advocacy service, http://advocacy.hdc.org.nz/. They can put you in touch with a patient advocate in your area who can help you understand your rights and help you to resolve your issues and if necessary assist in making a formal complaint.
In all matters public safety is the Board's absolute priority. The Board will decide whether an issue of competence or conduct exists and take appropriate action, including determining whether the practitioner poses a serious risk of harm to the public.
In general the decisions of the Board may extend to one or more of the following outcomes:
- No further steps are taken regarding the matter under investigation
- An educational letter is sent to the dietitian
- The matter is referred to a professional conduct committee
- The matter is referred to a competence review committee or an assessment is required
- Referral of the matter to the police
To ensure all principles of natural justice are met and thorough process is carried out, complaints matters can take time to resolve.