Competence Review

When concerns are raised about the competence of a registered health practitioner the Council is compelled to make enquiries into that practitioner's competence.

A competence review is not disciplinary in nature.  Rather, it is designed to protect the public by making an assessment in a collegial manner and to be educative for the practitioner concerned with a focus on assisting the practitioner to improve his/her standard of practise. Competence reviews undertaken by the Council will be fair, constructive, supportive and educative.

Upon receipt of any written notice or recommendation, the Council will make enquiries as to whether a competence review is necessary.

In accordance with the Act, all of the following situations may alert the Council to consider whether a medical laboratory science practitioner or anaesthetic technician should undergo a competence review:

  • A health practitioner notifies the Council that he/she has reason to believe that a medical laboratory science practitioner or anaesthetic technician  may pose a risk of harm to the public by practising below the required standard of competence (s34[1]);
  • The Health and Disability Commissioner or Director of Proceedings notifies the Council that he/she has reason to believe a medical laboratory science practitioner or anaesthetic technician  may pose a risk of harm to the public by practising below the required standard of competence (s34[2]);
  • An employer notifies the Council that an employee has resigned or been dismissed for reasons relating to competence (s34[3]);
  • A Professional Conduct Committee makes a recommendation under s80(2)(a) or s79(b) insofar as that recommendation relates to competence (s36[2]);
  • The Council has discretion to review the practice of a medical laboratory science practitioner  or anaesthetic technician  at any time whether or not there is cause for concern or a notice has been received (s36)

Competence review queries are to be directed to the Registrar of the Medical Sciences Council of New Zealand and are managed through the Council's Professional Standards Committee.

The Professional Standards Committee may at any time delegate its obligation to continue investigating the competence matter under consideration to a Council-appointed Competence Review Panel or a Professional Conduct Committee.

What happens if the Council decides I need to undergo a competence review? 

The Council may appoint a Competence Review Panel (the Panel) that has a minimum of two members and a maximum of three.  Members of the Panel consist of registered health practitioners from the relevant profession who are clinically competent, have good interpersonal skills and have some knowledge of performance and educational assessment relevant to your scope of practice.

From time to time, depending on the circumstances, a consumer or a lay person of the Council may be co-opted onto the Panel.

The Panel is provided with a written terms of reference that details why the competence is to be undertaken, the particular areas of concern on which the review is to focus (unless there are indicators of a general competence problem); and the activities that should be carried out (as a minimum) to assess your competence; and reporting requirements back to the Council.  A copy of these terms of reference would also be provided to you.  The investigation undertaken by the panel is limited to the aspects as detailed in the terms of reference.

The competence review may include an on-site assessment to observe you in your practise site to ensure that your practise of medical laboratory science is carried out at a competent level.  Your practice is assessed against the competencies adopted by the Medical Sciences Council as being required for the practice of medical laboratory science or anaesthetic technology.  

The competence review begins with a discussion between the Panel and yourself.  It ends with the Panel informing you what they have found during their investigations and giving you an opportunity to respond. 

You will always be informed of your right to have a support person present.

Within 21 days of completing the competence review the Panel report in writing to the Council as to whether or not you meet the required standard of competence, professional guidelines, and/or legislative requirements.

Should the Panel determine you do not meet the required standard it specifies the area(s) it considers you are deficient, suggesting how the deficiency/deficiencies might be overcome, and indicating whether you have acknowledged the deficiency.

All notes and other documentation generated by the Panel during the course of the review are returned to the Council for secure storage and/or destruction.

Should the Council decide you have failed to meet the required standard of competence it must make one of the following orders:

  • You undertake a competency based programme (section 40 [3]);
  • That one or more conditions be included in your scope of practice;
  • You undertake an examination or assessment;
  • You must work under supervision (section 38[1]).