Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

The Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion was es­tab­lished in 1994 to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Cer­vi­cal Can­cer In­quiry Re­port.

The role of the com­mis­sion is to pro­mote and pro­tect the rights of health and dis­abil­ity ser­vices con­sumers and re­solve com­plaints in a fair and speedy way.

In 1996 the Code of Rights was passed set­ting out 10 rights to: re­spect, fair­ness, dig­nity, qual­ity of ser­vice, un­der­stand­able in­for­ma­tion, in­for­ma­tion on your con­di­tion, ser­vices pro­vided, staff names and roles, make your own de­ci­sions and change your mind, be ac­com­pa­nied by a support per­son, if in­volved in re­search the same rights to ap­ply, and com­plaints to be taken se­ri­ously.

In 2012 the of­fice took over the role of the Men­tal Health Com­mis­sioner, so all is­sues re­lat­ing to ser­vices pro­vided to men­tal health con­sumers are also now dealt with by the Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion. The com­plaint process If you are un­happy or have ques­tions you should first try to dis­cuss th­ese with the per­son who pro­vided the ser­vice or the ap­pro­pri­ate man­ager.

You can take a support per­son with you to any meet­ings.

Support will also be pro­vided from a free ad­vo­cate who is in­de­pen­dent of the health provider and of the Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion. Phone 0800 555 050 for the ad­vo­cacy ser­vice.

If you make a com­plaint to the Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion, the com­mis­sioner can re­fer the mat­ter to the ad­vo­cacy ser­vice or back to the health provider to see if it can be re­solved.

The com­mis­sioner can also re­fer the mat­ter to other agen­cies or de­cide to carry out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The process of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volves get­ting the de­tails of your com­plaint and re­fer­ring those to the health provider to get their re­sponse. In­de­pen­dent ex­perts might also be in­volved to ad­vise the com­mis­sioner on any tech­ni­cal is­sues.

The com­mis­sioner will ad­vise you of the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and may re­fer the mat­ter to the di­rec­tor of pro­ceed­ings if a breach of your rights has been found.

Only a small num­ber of com­plaints are re­ferred to the di­rec­tor.

The di­rec­tor can take a case to the Health Prac­ti­tion­ers Dis­ci­plinary Tri­bunal or Hu­man Rights Re­view Tri­bunal.

If there is a hear­ing be­fore one of those tri­bunals, ev­i­dence is given by all rel­e­vant wit­nesses and ques­tions of wit­nesses can be asked by the tri­bunal and the par­ties.

The Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion can­not award com­pen­sa­tion, but if a case is taken to the Hu­man Rights Re­view Tri­bunal, it has the power to award da­m­ages.

There is no ap­peal from the Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion decision.

The com­mis­sion can take from six to 18 months to com­plete an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and any dis­ci­plinary process would follow that, so the time­frames can be lengthy for more com­pli­cated mat­ters.

You are en­ti­tled to be rep­re­sented dur­ing the process, but that is at your own cost.

Col­umn cour­tesy of Rainey Collins Lawyers, phone 0800 733 484. If you have a le­gal in­quiry email aknowsley@ rain­ey­collins.co.nz.

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