Third-Party APCs and Vaccination Exemptions

The Ministry of Health has issued the following clarification regarding certificates and exemptions being issued by some organisations.

Important information on Annual Practising Certificates issued by Wakaminenga Kaunihera Hauora Health Council

Wakaminenga Kaunihera Hauora Health Council (WHC) is advising on its website that it may issue WHC Annual Practicing Certificates. It is also advising that holders of the WHC Annual Practicing Certificate can legally practice under Māori jurisdiction as long as they clearly display in their waiting room (real and/or virtual) the He Wakaputanga, their APC from the WHC, and the combined Basic Concepts/Universal Laws and Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Health practitioners must hold a current APC issued by their responsible authority to lawfully practice as health practitioners.

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the HPCA Act) sets out the legal requirements for health practitioners to practice in New Zealand. Section 8 says that every health practitioner who practises the profession in respect of which they are registered must have a current practising certificate issued by the responsible authority – except in the case of an emergency, a course of training or instruction or in the course of an examination, assessment, or competence review required or ordered by the responsible authority.

WHC does not have authority to act as an authority responsible for the registration and oversight of practitioners of a particular health profession. Under sections 15 and 26 of the HPCA Act, only an authority appointed under the HPCA Act may issue annual practicing certificates.

Exemptions from vaccination requirements

Health practitioners must be fully vaccinated in accordance with the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021, or be granted an exemption or be an exempt person under that Order to provide in-person health services. Only the Minister for COVID-19 Response may grant an exemption and only the Director-General of Health may deem a person an exempt person under the Order. No other group or organisation, including WHC, has the legal authority to exempt or grant a person an exemption from the requirement to the vaccinated.

Under clause 7A of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021, an unvaccinated nurse (who is not otherwise exempt from the Order) is able to temporarily practice if they contracted COVID-19 after May 15th. This exemption lasts for 100 days from the date on which the nurse received an authorised laboratory or authorised Rapid Antigen Test result showing a positive result for COVID-19.