Dental Council will refer, or appoint a professional conduct committee to investigate, complaints where the practice or conduct of a practitioner is brought into question.
Part 4 of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the Act) creates a consistent accountability regime for all health practitioners by:
making the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) a ‘one stop shop’ for all complaints where the practice or conduct of a practitioner is alleged to have affected a health consumer
providing for the appointment of professional conduct committees (PCCs) to investigate the basis of specified court convictions or information that raises questions about the appropriateness of the conduct or the safety of a practitioner, and to recommend to the Dental Council the appropriate response; and
creating a single Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT) to hear and determine charges brought by the HDC or by a PCC for all regulated professions under the Act.
Referrals to a professional conduct committee
We refer to a PCC in two situations.
The first is where the Registrar of a court notifies us that a practitioner has been convicted of an offence:
against specified legislation, or
where a conviction is punishable by imprisonment for a term of three months or longer.
In such cases, we must refer the matter to a PCC for investigation.
The second situation is where we consider that information we hold raises one or more questions about a practitioner’s conduct or the safety of the practitioner’s practice. We may refer any or all of those questions to a PCC. We may do so in response to a complaint that HDC has referred to us, or we may do so on our own initiative.
What is a professional conduct committee?
A PCC is an independent statutory committee that we appoint to investigate the basis of specified convictions or the appropriateness of the conduct of a practitioner. It comprises two registered practitioners and a lay person.
A PCC operates independently of us and may:
receive evidence about the complaint or conviction
appoint its own legal advisors and/or investigators as necessary
make recommendations and determinations on the completion of its investigation.
What can a PCC do?
A PCC can:
decide to take no further action
make certain specific recommendations to us
lay a charge against the practitioner before the HPDT