Privacy and legal

How do I manage privacy issues when I’m unable to see patients in my consult room?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

During their 22 March webinar College President Sam Murton and Medical Director Bryan Betty recommended that if you’re doing a consult in a car park or via unsecured video, it is very important to get informed consent from your patient. Your patient must agree that this approach is okay with them.

For general advice on privacy and confidentiality, see Telehealth’s advice.


What is the Health and Disability Commission’s position about these unusual circumstances?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

During the 22 March webinar, Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill said:

“Clearly the Code of Rights continues to apply, and this is about good care in difficult circumstances.” 

Mr Hill reassured listeners that HDC is reviewing and adjusting its process and timings to recognise the pressures on doctors during this busy time. He said clarity of communication is important with colleagues, secondary care, and with patients.  

"Clinical judgment and critical thinking are important, as is good communication with patients."


Can GPs operate outside their usual scope of practice?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

During the College’s 22 March webinar MCNZ Chair Dr Curtis Walker mentioned that a Pandemic Scope of Practice has been enacted, which allows the Council to reinstate doctors who haven’t practised in the last three years. It is free for doctors to enrol in this scope. Read more here.

Dr Walker said he’d received questions about whether doctors could work outside of their scope of practice, and he explained that general standards remain in place. He clarified that it is the Ministry of Health that is responsible for doctor deployment under the new Pandemic Scope.

“In putting patient care front and centre, doctors are not obliged to put themselves in harm’s way. The key to that is available and effective personal protective equipment,” said Dr Walker.