Medical Law & Ethics Forum

Providing health sector professionals with the latest medico-legal and ethical updates


Registration and coffee
Opening remarks from the Chair
Renée Ridell-Garner, Barrister, Central Chambers
Ethical Considerations for the wider healthcare sector
The changing needs of the New Zealand healthcare system: new ethical considerations
  • Exploring the importance of greater cultural consideration and consumer advocacy in the healthcare sector
  • Looking at the move to digital healthcare and how this affects ethics and privacy
  • Assessing the case for an Age and Disability Commissioner, due to an ageing population
Richard Catto, Director - Healthcare, KMPG
Managing health professionals' performance

Poor performance in a healthcare setting can create complex problems. Nicola Ridder, Senior Associate at Buddle Findlay, will explain the responsibilities of individual health practitioners and the organisations who employ them when concerns about a health professional's clinical competence, performance or fitness to practise arise.

  • Explaining your obligations, and the role of the Registration Authority, under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003
  • Differentiating between poor performance, clinical competence, and fitness to practice
  • Addressing issues as an employer and dealing with the statutory overlay
  • What if a health professional is charged with criminal offending?
Nicola Ridder, Senior Associate, Buddle Findlay
Morning break
Conduct issues -Update on HPDT decisions

Wendy Aldred will discuss recent cases from the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal on charges of professional misconduct

  • Boundary breaches
  • Privacy issues
  • Name suppression
  • The approach of the High Court on appeals from the Tribunal
Wendy Aldred, Barrister, Central Chambers
The devil's in the detail: ethical dimensions of consultation talk
  • What can we learn from observing the detail of health care interactions?
  • Common communication challenges and dilemmas 
  • Ethics and the right to effective communication
Dr Maria Stubbe, Senior Lecturer, University of Otago, Wellington School of Medicine & Health Sciences & Co-Director, Applied Research on Communication in Health (ARCH) Group
Lunch break
Managing the law in day to day practice
Privacy Update: Keeping patient privacy paramount
  • Examining the important considerations for privacy in a system with increasing information sharing
  • Looking at the impacts of cyber security and privacy - what is the process in case of a security breach
  • Managing privacy in the face of social media and mobile devices becoming commonplace in hospitals
Sophie Richardson, Policy Adviser, Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Table Talks: Public health and end of life decisions

Delegates will be invited to discuss in groups two very important public health issues and the ethical considerations of each for practitioners.

Topic 1: Should Voluntary Euthanasia be legalised in New Zealand?

Topic 2: How can health practitioners approach public resistance to vaccination?


Afternoon break
Working with Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOAs) in the healthcare context - challenges and changes

Holly Hedley, Senior Associate at Buddle Findlay, will discuss the role and powers of Enduring Powers of Attorney appointed for personal care and welfare decisions. Issues discussed will include:

  • The process for appointing and activating EPOAs
  • The limits on an EPOAs’ power to make decisions for a patient
  • What can you do if you think an EPOA isn't acting in the patient's best interests?
  • What changes might be coming to the law relating to EPOAs (including discussing the Law Foundation's recent report on Mental Capacity)
Holly Hedley, Senior Associate, Buddle Findlay
The DHB role in public health decisions

Important decisions on public health are becoming more important to DHBs, and recent changes have led to increased decision-making from boards - the clearest example of this being fluoridation in water. Catherine Deans will join us to discuss the role of the DHB in public health and possible future developments.

  • Looking at the move to district health boards being in charge of decisions over fluoridation in water supply
  • Examining the role of DHBs in public health decisions on controversial topics
Catherine Deans, Senior Solicitor, Claro
Summary remarks from the Chair and Networking Drinks
Welcome back from the Chair
Iris Reuvecamp, Principal , Vida Law
Mental health law and ethics
Keynote: Suicide prevention - Having honest conversations
  • New Zealand’s rate of suicide has faced significant media attention in 2017 and provoked questions around whether the mental health system is fit for purpose. Hear about the current state of mental healthcare in New Zealand and how mental health can be better served.
  • Discussing the current state of mental healthcare and suicide prevention in New Zealand
  • Examining the legal and ethical guidelines surrounding suicide and mental healthcare
  • Looking at possible changes to healthcare that can ensure patients are further supported during crisis
Shaun Robinson, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
The Mental Health Act - is it out of date from a human rights perspective?
  • The right to freedom from discrimination under section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (NZBORA)
  • A closer look at the MHA
  • Consequent limits on the rights of patients subject to the MHA
  • Are the limits reasonable, and can they be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society?
Iris Reuvecamp, Principal , Vida Law
Morning break
Substance Abuse (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017
  • Providing an introduction to the Act
  • Exploring the changes from the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Act 1966
  • Looking at emerging issues
  • Discussing comparative perspectives
Professor Kate Diesfeld, Professor of Law, Chair, Auckland University of Technology Ethics Committee
Table talks: Mental health and Managing high pressure situations

Delegates are invited to discuss their perspectives among their peers on important legal and ethical considerations in the health care sector and then report this back to the group.

Topic 1: How should the methods of treating patients with acute mental health concerns be changed?

Topic 2: How can hospitals continue to provide high quality care while facing increased pressure from a changing population with diverse needs

Lunch break
Key developments and their impact on the medical sector
Assessing capacity: the interface of law, healthcare and ethics

Assessing capacity of patients to consent to treatment is within all health practitioner’s scope of practice.  Assessing a person’s decision-making capacity may not be straightforward.  Where the decision involves significant risk, or where there is conflict about the decision, it can be difficult to separate incapacity from differing personal values or unwise decisions. This session will introduce the Toolkit for Assessing Capacity, a legal and practical guide for health practitioners  when assessing an adult’s capacity to give or refuse consent to medical procedures.  It will cover: key practice points, how to carry out a capacity assessment, and an overview of the relevant law.

Alison Douglass, Barrister, Barristers Chambers
Medicinal cannabis - Assessing the impacts of increased prescription of cannabidiol
  • Examining the role of GPs in prescribing cannabis products to patients
  • Looking at the process followed for approval of prescription of cannabis products
  • Exploring future opportunities for prescription of cannabis and other previously unapproved medicines
Dr Stewart Jessamine, Director of Protection, Regulation and Assurance, Ministry of Health
Afternoon break
Coroners’ update: Reporting after amendments to the Coroners Act 2006
  • Looking at the recent cases brought to the coroner
  • Examining the effects of changes to the coronial process from recent Coroners Act Amendments
  • The role of the coroner in cases part of criminal proceedings
Anna Tutton, Coroner, NZ Coronial Services
Key legal considerations for consumer advisers
  • Exploring how consumer advisers and councils are currently working in the health sector
  • Discussing the legalities that consumer advisors are faced with at work
  • Looking at the impact consumer advisors have had on our medical system
Louise Windleborn, Maori Consumer Advisor, Hutt Valley DHB
Closing remarks from the Chair and end of conference
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