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From 23 April 2011, mortality review committees became statutory committees under Section 59E of the amended New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act. They report to the Health Quality & Safety Commission Board. The purpose, functions, powers and scope of the committees has not changed.

Schedule 5 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act outlines specific provisions applying to mortality review committees giving them the power to source any information relevant to their purpose.They are charged with strict confidentiality conditions for the collection, storage and use of the information they hold.

Excerpts from the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 No 91 (as at 24 February 2011):

Section 59 E

HQSC may appoint Mortality Review Committees

(1) HQSC may appoint 1 or more committees to carry out any of the following functions that HQSC specifies by notice to the committee:

  • (a) to review and report to HQSC on specified classes of deaths of persons, or deaths of persons of specified classes, with a view to reducing the numbers of deaths of those classes or persons, and to continuous quality improvement through the promotion of ongoing quality assurance programmes:
  • (b) to advise on any other matters related to mortality that HQSC specifies in the notice.

(2) A committee appointed under subsection (1) (a mortality review committee) must develop strategic plans and methodologies that—

  • (a) are designed to reduce morbidity and mortality; and
  • (b) are relevant to the committee's functions.

(3) HQSC—

  • (a) must, at least annually, provide the Minister with a report on the progress of mortality review committees; and
  • (b) must include each such report in HQSC's next annual report.

(4) The provisions of Schedule 5 external link apply in relation to a mortality review committee.

(5) Every person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a requirement imposed under Schedule 5 external link by the chairperson of a mortality review committee commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

(6) Every person who discloses information contrary to Schedule 5 external link commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.

(7) Any member of a registered occupational profession who commits an offence under subsection (5) or (6) is liable to any disciplinary proceedings of that profession in respect of the offence, whether or not he or she is fined under that subsection.

Section 59E: inserted, on 9 November 2010, by section 17 external link of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act 2010 (2010 No 118).

Schedule 5: Provisions applying to mortality review committees

1. Interpretation

  • In this schedule, unless the context otherwise requires,— document has the same meaning as in section 2(1) external link of the Official Information Act 1982
    judicial proceeding means a proceeding that is judicial within the meaning of section 108 external link of the Crimes Act 1961
    Ministerial authority means an authority—
    o (a) given by the Minister under clause 6(1) external link; and
    o (b) in force for the time being
    serious offence means an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of 2 years or more.
    Compare: 1995 No 95 s 66

2. Chairperson may require person to give information

  • (1) If a mortality review committee gives its chairperson, or an agent the committee appoints for the purpose, authority in writing to do so, the chairperson or agent may, by notice in writing to any person, require the person to give the committee information in the person's possession, or under the person's control, and relevant to the performance by the committee of any of its functions.

    (2) Examples of the information the chairperson or agent may require are—
    o (a) patient records, clinical advice, and related information:
    o (b) answers to questions posed by the chairperson in the notice, and that the person is able to answer:
    o (c) information that became known solely as a result of a declared quality assurance activity, within the meaning of Part 6 of the Medical Practitioners Act 1995, or a protected quality assurance activity within the meaning of section 53(1) external link of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.

    (3) The person must take all reasonable steps to comply with the notice.

Schedule 5 clause 2(2)(c): amended, on 18 September 2004, by section 175(1) external link of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (2003 No 48).

3. Meaning of information

  • In clauses 4 to 6 external link, information means any information—
    o (a) that is personal information within the meaning of section 2(1) external link of the Privacy Act 1993; and
    o (b) that became known to any member or executive officer or agent of a mortality review committee only because of the committee's functions being carried out (for example, because it is contained in a document created, and made available to the member or executive officer or agent, only because of those functions being carried out), whether or not the carrying out of those functions is completed.

4. Prohibitions on production, disclosure, and recording of information

  • (1) A member or executive officer or agent of a mortality review committee must not produce or disclose information to another person or in any judicial proceeding, or make any record of it, unless the production, disclosure, or record, is—
    o (a) for the purposes of carrying out the committee's functions; or
    o (b) in accordance with an exception stated in clause 5 external link; or
    o (c) in accordance with a ministerial authority.

    (2) In any judicial proceeding, a member or executive officer or agent of a mortality review committee must not be required to produce information if under subclause (1) he or she is prohibited from doing so.

    Compare: 1995 No 95 s 70

5. Exceptions to prohibitions

  • Clause 4 external link does not prohibit—
    o (a) the production, disclosure, or recording of information if the information does not identify, either expressly or by implication, any particular individual:
    o (b) the disclosure of information—
    § (i) with the consent of every person who would be directly or indirectly identified by the disclosure:
    § (ii) to the Minister, or a person authorised by the Minister, for the purpose of enabling the Minister to decide whether or not to issue a ministerial authority:
    § (iii) for the purposes of the prosecution of an offence against section 18(7) external link (disclosure of information contrary to this schedule).

Compare: 1995 No 95 s 71

6. Minister may authorise disclosure of information

  • (1) If the Minister is satisfied that information relates to conduct (whenever occurring) that constitutes or may constitute a serious offence, the Minister may, by notice in writing signed by the Minister, give a ministerial authority authorising the disclosure of the information, in the manner, and subject to any conditions, specified in the notice, for 1 or more of the following purposes:
    o (a) for the purposes of the investigation and prosecution of offences:
    o (b) for the purposes of a Royal Commission, or a commission of inquiry appointed by an Order in Council made under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908 external link.

    (2) However, a ministerial authority may be given for information of a non-factual nature (for example, expressions of opinion) only if that information consists only of matter contained in a report or advice prepared by the mortality review committee.

    (3) The Minister may at any time—
    o (a) revoke a ministerial authority; or
    o (b) revoke, amend, or add to any condition or conditions to which a ministerial authority is subject.

    (4) A ministerial authority authorising the disclosure of information does not of itself—
    o (a) require the disclosure of that information; or
    o (b) create a duty to disclose that information.

    Compare: 1995 No 95 s 72

7. Supplementary procedure

  • A mortality review committee may regulate its procedure, at its meetings and otherwise, in any manner not inconsistent with this Act it thinks fit.
Last updated: 13th November, 2021