Patient and health advocates 

What is a health and disability advocate?

A health and disability advocate from the nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service can help you voice any concerns you may have about the quality of service you received from a health practitioner or disability service provider (e.g. a doctor, residential care facility, naturopath, home support service).

Advocates can:

  • tell you what your rights are, 
  • provide you with information and options,
  • provide practical assistance to help you resolve your concerns

Advocacy services are free, confidential and independent, and advocates have to abide by their Code of Practice.  

With the help of a health and disability advocate you may be able to get your concerns sorted without having to go to the Health and Disability Commissioner. However, if your case is taken on by an advocate and not resolved, they will refer the issue to the Health and Disability Commissioner

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When would I need a health and disability advocate?

You can seek a health and disability advocate if you feel your rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights have been breached and you aren’t sure what to do to resolve the issue.  

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Can a health and disability advocate help me with an issue about my sickness benefit or ACC payments?

The  processes for dealing with complaints or disputes regarding ACC and Work and Income decisions are different to those relating to breaches of patients’ rights, so a health and disability advocate would probably not be able to help you with these.

There may be a local advocacy organisation in your area that provides more general advocacy – your local CAB can help you find one.

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How do I find a health and disability advocate?

You can call Health and Disability Advocacy on 0800 555 050 or search the Health and Disability Advocacy directory to find a health and disability advocate in your area.
Your local CAB can also help you fine an advocate.

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How do I find a support group?

There are hundreds of groups in New Zealand which provide support to people with all kinds of health issues or disabilities.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you find information about specific support groups in your area.

Being in contact with a support group means that you have someone to talk to about the health or disability issue you are experiencing - especially if you don’t feel you can talk to friends or family about it.