Concerns About a Midwife
Most midwives are competent, conscientious, and professional in the way they practise but on some occasions things can go wrong.
The role of Te Tatau o te Whare Kahu | Midwifery Council (the Council) is to protect the health and safety of members of the public. The Council is bound by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (the HPCAA). Part 3 of the HPCAA is about fitness to practise. The Council carries out this role by considering the competence (performance), health or conduct of a midwife and then decides whether the midwife should have to comply with certain conditions in order to practice. In serious cases where there is a public safety risk, the midwife may be suspended from practice.
Midwives are required to meet all competencies for the midwives’ Scope of Practice.
If you have reason to believe that a midwife may pose a risk of harm to the public by practising below the required standard of competence, you may be required to notify the Council.
If you are an employer, you must promptly notify the Council if a midwife resigns or is dismissed from their employment for reasons relating to competence. Click HERE for more information.
If you are a health practitioner and you believe that a midwife may pose a risk of harm to the public by practising below the required standard of competence, you may notify the Council of your concerns.
A notification must be in writing to the Registrar and include the reasons why you believe that the midwife poses a risk of harm to the public. A tool for you to complete can be found at the bottom of this page.
It is important that you notify the Council if you have reason to believe that a midwife is unable to practise safely due to a health condition. A health condition can be a mental or physical impairment and may include a condition or impairment caused by alcohol or substance use disorders.
You must notify the Council if you have reason to believe that a midwife is unable to perform the functions of a midwife, due to a health condition, and you are:
- someone in charge of an organisation that provides health services
- a health practitioner
- an employer of health practitioners
- a medical officer of health.
Every midwife is asked to declare whether they have a health condition when applying for an Annual Practising Certificate (APC). If you are a midwife with a health condition and believe that this may affect your ability to practise, you must inform the Council. Please complete the Voluntary Health Disclosure form found in the Relevant Documents section on this page.
You do not have to declare health conditions that are temporary or do not affect your ability to practise.
You must also notify the Council if you are in charge of a midwifery educational programme in New Zealand and you have reason to believe that a student would be unable to perform the functions of a midwife due to a health condition.
All notifications must be in writing using the online tool below.
Health and Disability Commissioner | Te Toihau Hauora, Hauātanga
If you are a health consumer (pregnant or woman who has had a baby) and wish to make a complaint about a midwife you may prefer to contact the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC). The HDC may decide to investigate the complaint or may refer the complaint to the Council to investigate.
Raising a concern
Alternative options to making a complaint to the Council:
Health and Disability Complaint Process
When you use a health or disability service in New Zealand, you have the protection of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.
If you wish to make a complaint about a midwife, you may contact the HDC in the first instance. The HDC promotes the rights of all people accessing health and disability services across New Zealand. Further information about the HDC's complaints assessment process is available HERE. The Council must promptly forward to the HDC any complaint that alleges the practice or conduct of a midwife has affected a health consumer.
New Zealand College of Midwives Resolutions Committee
You can also contact the New Zealand College of Midwives | Te Kāreti o ngā Kaiwhakawhānau ki Aoteroa (NZCOM) Resolutions Committee. Each region of NZCOM has a resolutions committee, consisting of a representative of consumers of midwifery services nominated by local consumer groups; and a midwife representative, nominated by the local region of NZCOM. Each resolutions committee assists in resolving any issues consumers may have with the care they received in a confidential and supportive way.
More information is available HERE.
Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand or Midwifery Practice
You may wish to contact the manager of the midwife you are concerned about, or the Midwifery Practice the midwife is part of. Each Te Whatu Ora region should also have its own feedback process for raising concerns about a midwife.
Asking for support
Making a complaint can be challenging. If you would like support in making a complaint, the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service | Ngā Kaitautoko offers free, independent, and confidential advice and support to help you resolve issues with health and disability services. More information is available HERE.
If you choose to complain directly to the Council, please complete the online tool below.
Your complaint must contain enough detail for the Council to decide the following:
- If the Council is able to address the referral or whether the issues are personal or employment issues.
- Whether the issues raised are serious enough to be considered by the Council.
Your complaint (minus your contact details) will be provided to the midwife to allow them to respond. The Council is not able to consider any anonymous referrals unless further enquiry is possible. If this poses a difficulty to you or if you want to discuss your concerns further before deciding to complete the form, then please call our Midwifery Advisor on 04 499 5040.