Concerns about a nurse

The Council’s role is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by ensuring that nurses are competent and fit to practise. The Council carries out this role by considering the competence (performance), health or conduct of a nurse and deciding whether the nurse should have to comply with certain conditions in order to practise. In serious cases where there is a public safety risk, the nurse may be suspended from practice. 

For more information, see the documents in the right hand downloads box on this page, or contact us.

Competence

If you have concerns about the competence (or performance) of a nurse, you may wish to notify the Council of those concerns in writing. Please use the Complaint Form – Concerns about a Nurse in the downloads box on the right of this page.

The Council may require the nurse to have his or her competence reviewed. Following that review the nurse may be required to have further education or practise under supervision for a period of time. In serious cases where there is a risk to public safety, the nurse may have his or her registration suspended until he or she completes a remedial programme.

Health

If you have concerns about the mental or physical health of a nurse (including alcohol or drug abuse) and you believe that the condition may be affecting the nurse’s ability to practise, you may notify the Council in writing of those concerns. Please use the Complaint Form – Concerns about a Nurse in the downloads box on the right of this page. 

The Council may require the nurse to have a medical assessment. If the assessment identifies a health concern that may affect practice, the nurse is given the opportunity to meet with a health committee. 

The nurse may have conditions included in his or her scope of practice (such as employer support and monitoring of the health condition) to enable him or her to practise safely in a supportive place of employment. In serious cases, nurses may have their registration suspended until they are well enough to return to practice. 

Conduct

Health and Disability Commissioner

If you are a health consumer (patient) and wish to make a complaint about a nurse, you may prefer to contact the Health and Disability Commissioner, who offers an advocacy service to assist you.

In any event, any complaint about the conduct of a nurse where the nurse is providing care and the conduct has affected a health consumer must be referred by the Council to the Health and Disability Commissioner. The Commissioner may decide to investigate the complaint or may refer the complaint to the Council to investigate.

If you choose to complain directly to the Nursing Council, please use the Complaint Form – Concerns about a Nurse in the downloads box on the right of this page.

Complaints process 

Complaints of a serious professional nature are investigated and considered by professional conduct committees (PCCs), who decide whether to refer the complaint to the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal or whether no further disciplinary action is required. PCCs can also recommend:

  • reviewing a nurse's competence or health
  • including conditions in a nurse's cope of practice
  • sending a letter of counsel (education letter) to the nurse. 

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