Health conditions may impair fitness to practise
Physiotherapists, like anyone else, can become ill and suffer injury. A physical or mental health problem may impair your ability to practice physiotherapy safely, and may endanger your patients and the public. Depending on the nature of your illness or injury, you may:
- be unable to make safe clinical judgements
- be unable to demonstrate the level of skill and knowledge required for safe practice
- behave inappropriately
- risk infecting patients with whom you come into contact
- act (or fail to act) in ways that impact adversely on patient safety.
Health conditions that may make you unfit to practise include alcohol or drug dependence, psychiatric disorders, a temporary stress condition, an infection with a transmissible disease, and certain illnesses or injuries or physical disabilities.
The HPCA defines a 'mental or physical condition’ as: any mental or physical condition or impairment, and includes a condition or impairment caused by alcohol or drug abuse.
Any delay in seeking treatment and assistance may impact you professionally and personally and adversely affect patient care. In our experience, early intervention usually enables a practitioner with a treatable illness or condition to continue practising while receiving treatment.
When do I make a health declaration?
Notify us if you have doubts about your fitness to practise, as soon as possible, either by contacting the Registrar by phoning 04 471 2610, email or by completing the contact us form on the Fitness to Practise page. We ensure that you will receive a prompt response.
Who must notify us of a health concern?
If you believe a physiotherapist is unwell and may be unable to practise safely, you are required by law to let us know as soon as possible if you are:
- a physiotherapist - this includes self notification
- the physiotherapist’s employer (this includes a physiotherapy practice that contracted a physiotherapist’s services)
- any registered health practitioner
- anyone in charge of an organisation that provides health services
- a person in charge of an educational programme or course who believes a student may be unable to practise physiotherapy safely
Who may also notify us of a concern?
- any member of the public
We are here to assist you
Our primary objective is to always ensure your patients are kept safe. However, we will always try to work with you. Remember that notifying us of a health concern does not automatically mean you can no longer work.
Our response to a health issue may involve regular reporting from your treating practitioners, working under supervision, or if you have suffered an injury, a return to work plan developed in consultation with your treating practitioner and employer.
Discuss your concerns with the Board before making a notification?
A conversation is always helpful, even if it needs to be hypothetical initially. Options for managing an issue can be discussed. You can speak to the Registrar by phoning 04 471 2610. All conversations about health notifications are confidential, although there may be situations where we must disclose your health condition to someone else. This usually occurs where there is a concern about patient safety.
How to notify us of a concern
Who manages health notifications?
The Registrar is the first point of contact. The Board has a Health Committee who assesses all health notifications. This committee will make a decision on whether your plan of management ensures your patients are safe.
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