Representatives from each of the different acupuncture and Chinese Medicine groups met with Professor Des Gorman and Ruth Anderson from Health Workforce New Zealand in Auckland on Friday 23rd October. Angela Harding, Paddy McBride and Albert Zhang represented Acupuncture NZ.
Prof Gorman began by the meeting by stating that the application that were made in 2010 for Chinese Medicine to be included under the HPCA Act were still “live” and that the Ministry is now moving to the next step toward registration. He stated that “You will be regulated – there is no going back.” An expert panel appointed by the Ministry has agreed that our profession meets the requirements to be included under the Act and public submissions that were called for are being assessed.He went on to say that the first step needs to be identifying which of the existing Responsible Authorities (RAs) would be willing to accommodate Chinese Medicine and become a combined RA. There are currently 16 RAs and the Minister of Health has stated that there will be no more new ones. Both Ruth Anderson and Des Gorman further explained what was required of the arrangement and that it is still the aim of the Ministry to have an over-arching authority in charge of governance of all the different RAs but that is still some distance in the future.
The Ministry is starting to progress the recommendations which were made following the review of the Act in 2012 and it is expected that the changes will go to parliament early in the new year. It is expected that the move to include Chinese Medicine under the Act will progress in parallel with the implementation of the recommendations to the Act.
They outlined some of the responsibilities of the RAs, including that the RA would then assume a role in the assessing of educational programmes and determining the appropriate level of education required to become a member of the new RA. Once the RA is established, practitioners will be subjected to the same level of information gathering regarding treatments administered, scopes of practice, public scrutiny and disciplinary actions as the other professions. On the positive side there will also be greater and easier access to IT based 'information sharing' re patients and thus the profession will be more integrated into the primary health care system.
Professor Gorman repeated that regulation of the profession would definitely be going ahead and that it is now a matter of when rather than if. The next step is to decide on qualifications and competencies for the profession. He informed the meeting that the Minister has clearly expressed his intention to take the process forward and that we should proceed with some haste.