Home > Consultation on four new standards – overview document

Consultation on four new standards – overview document

For a .PDF version of this consultation paper please click here


Serious event standard

Physiotherapists practising in a defined field standard


Advertising standard

The use of physiotherapy titles standard

Issued on                         11 April  2021      

Consultation closes        31 May  2021



The Physiotherapy Board (Board) is proposing to add two Standards to the Physiotherapy Standards framework and to amend two current Standards.

The proposed new Standards are:

  • Serious event standard
  • Physiotherapists practising in a defined field standard.

The Standards proposed to be amended are:

  • Advertising standard
  • The use of Physiotherapy Titles standard.

This consultation seeks your input on the proposed new and amended Standards.

Your feedback is important to us, so please take some time to consider the proposals.



The principal purpose of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCAA):

“is to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that health practitioners are competent and fit to practise their professions.”

Under section 118(i) of the HPCAA one of the functions of the Board is:

“to set standards of clinical competence, cultural competence (including competencies that will enable effective and respectful interaction with Māori), and ethical conduct to be observed by health practitioners of the profession”.

The questions we are asking in this consultation are:

  • Do you generally agree with the proposed new Standards and proposed amendments to the current Standards?
  • Are the proposed new Standards and amended Standards easy to read, understand and apply?
  • Is there a specific area you identify as challenging to understand and apply?
  • Is there anything missing from the proposed new Standards or amended Standards?
  • What other comments and feedback do you have on the proposed new and amended Standards?


Proposed Serious event standard

Serious events such as disasters or pandemics inevitably occur occasionally at a local, regional, or national level. Such events may cause material disruption to the environment and the conditions under which physiotherapists normally practise, and potentially endanger public safety by impeding the provision of physiotherapy services.

During the national COVID-19 lockdown in March – May 2020 it was apparent that although the Ministry of Health was able to promulgate legally enforceable requirements for health practitioners and others, there was little in the way of enforceable physiotherapy-specific requirements that the Board could apply to ensure the safety of the public.

The Board provided guidance for physiotherapists explaining how instructions, directives, and requirements from government agencies applied to their practice of physiotherapy.

The proposed Standard would provide a high-level legal framework under which the Board may prescribe situation-specific requirements to help protect public health and safety when serious events (as defined in the Standard) occur. This would assist the Board to address risks arising from specific situations and environmental changes in a flexible and responsive manner, as new information and research becomes available.

Physiotherapists would need to comply with applicable legislative requirements enacted by the Ministry of Health and other government agencies, as well as with any requirements notified by the Board under the proposed Standard. Those legislative requirements would take precedence over the Board’s requirements in the event of inconsistency or conflict.

A copy of the proposed ‘Serious event standard’ can be viewed here.

Proposed Physiotherapists practising in a defined field standard

This proposed Standard would replace the Position Statement currently in place for physiotherapists practising in a defined field.

The current Position Statement sets out requirements for physiotherapists working within a specific or defined area of practice, including new and emerging areas of physiotherapy. It describes requirements for education, training, CPD and self-evaluation when working within one or more fields.

A prior consultation for the proposed Standard in July and August 2019 received 383 online responses. 90% of respondents agreed with the new proposed Standard.  This consultation has been taken into consideration by the Board and further changes have been proposed by the Board to provide improved clarity.

Due to the material changes in the wording of the proposed Standard since the original consultation in 2019, a further consultation is now taking place.

The revised proposed Standard provides an explanatory introduction and an expanded definition of what a ‘defined field’ is in terms of its place within the Scope of Practice: Physiotherapist. It sets out a requirement for physiotherapists practising in their defined field to have an adequate level of knowledge and the competencies required to practise safely and competently when working in that defined field.

The definition of a ‘defined field’ includes not only new and emerging areas of practice but also existing areas of practice and areas of practice in which physiotherapists may not have worked for some time to which they wish to return and in which they may need to regain skills and competence.

The proposed Standard sets requirements for physiotherapists to have an appropriate level of training, knowledge and competence to undertake the activities they perform within their defined field, which helps to protect public safety.

A copy of the proposed ‘Physiotherapists practising in a defined field standard’ can be viewed here.



Advertising standard

This standard has been in place since May 2018. The revision is part of the Board’s scheduled review process for standards.

The substantive amendments proposed to the current Advertising Standard include:

  • Removal of the prohibition of advertising ‘free physio’ for patients whose management is subsidised by an insurer or funder e.g., ACC, Southern Cross, PHO.
  • Clarification of the point that information provided in advertising is no substitute for informed consent
  • Reference to substantiation of claims, consistent with the obligations in s.12A of Fair Trading Act 1986
  • Clarification of requirements for comparative advertising
  • Inclusion of an obligation to comply with requirements of insurers or third-party payers (including ACC) when advertising services they fund
  • Clarification of requirements for advertising professional qualifications
  • Clarification of prohibition on use of testimonials, including taking reasonable steps to remove testimonials published by others.

The Board acknowledges that some aspects of the Advertising standard have been controversial, particularly those related to the prohibition on advertising ‘free physio’, which has attracted arguments for and against. The Board would welcome your views on the proposed change, which would remove this provision but retain the general prohibition on false, misleading or deceptive advertising.

The proposed amended ‘Advertising Standard’ can be viewed here.

The Use of physiotherapy titles standard

This standard has been in place since May 2018. The revision is part of the Board’s scheduled review process for standards. It should be read in the context of section 7(1) of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA Act) which states:

“A person may only use names, words, titles, initials, abbreviations, or descriptions stating or implying that the person is a health practitioner of a particular kind if the person is registered, and is qualified to be registered, as a health practitioner of that kind.”

Key proposed revisions to the Use of physiotherapy titles standard are:

  • Limitation of protection for Specialist title to the title ‘specialist’ itself (i.e., use of derivative terms such as ‘specialising’ or ‘speciality’ would no longer be prohibited).
  • Simplification of Introduction and removal of redundant or duplicated content
  • Inclusion of reference to the gazetted definition of Scope of Practice: Physiotherapist
  • Inclusion of reference to the gazetted definition of Specialist Scope of Practice.

The complaints the Board receives about the use of the specialist title often relate not to the use of the title itself (which would continue to be restricted for use by physiotherapists registered in the Specialist scope of practice under the proposed amended standard and by section 7(1) HPCA Act) but rather to the use of descriptive terms that refer more generally to fields in which a physiotherapist practises (e.g., “my clinic specialises in the treatment of sports injuries”).

The Board wishes to apply a consistent approach to protected titles. The proposed approach is consistent with the Board’s recent decision concerning the level of protection that would be available for the titles ‘Advanced Practice Physiotherapist’ and ‘APP’ upon implementation of the proposed new scope of practice: Advanced Practice Physiotherapist.

A copy of the proposed amended ‘Use of physiotherapy titles standard’ is here.



We encourage you to engage in the consultation process.  The Board Standards have been in place for several years, and it is timely to reflect on the application of the Standards and whether they operate effectively, efficiently, and fairly.



You can submit on each standard individually by clicking on the title below:

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the consultation process, please contact Damon Newrick, Professional Advisor, at: d.newrick@physioboard.org.nz

The closing date for submissions is

31 May 2021.



The Board will not consider responses received after the stated closing date.

All submissions that are not expressly stated to be CONFIDENTIAL may be published. Please clearly state in your written submission that the submission is CONFIDENTIAL if you do not wish your response to be published.



Once the consultation period is complete, all submissions will be considered by the Board. The Board will keep the profession and other interested parties informed on the outcome.