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Mandatory Reporting Encourages Blame

A culture of blame, as encouraged under the mandatory reporting procedures in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Bill, will not create a culture of safety, according to NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals.

The Bill, which is expected to be introduced to Parliament within two months, contains a mandatory reporting clause, in which health professionals are expected to report the errors and poor practice of colleagues.

“This clause is likely to be unworkable. Our biggest concern is that mandatory reporting creates a culture of blame and this will have adverse side effects including mistrust between colleagues, fear of reprisals and disciplinary action. Such negative consequences will undoubtedly impact on the standard of care health professionals give. A system based on trust and openess offers far more potential to improve professional practice and health care,” Annals said.

NZNO has raised its concerns about mandatory reporting with the Minister of Health Annette King and with the Ministry.

“What needs to be borne in mind is that many errors and mistakes occur because of systems failures, because of the conditions health professionals work under. Understaffing and overwork are common place for many nurses. This situation is not their fault. We want systems that emphasise the goal of improving practice. We want a focus on improving practice, not the development of a punitive system,” Annals said.

NZNO believes the threshold for any mandatory report needs to be serious harm or death.

“Where there is a threat of serious harm, we want a system in place which ensures a fair process for investigating, without any fear of reprisals for those involved and where the outcome will mean improved patient care and health outcomes,” Annals said.


Contact: NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals 025-434-193
NZNO president, Jane O’Malley, 025-937-159

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