Allied health practitioners work in fields other than medicine or nursing.
Regulated allied practitioners are covered by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. In addition to medicine and nursing, the act covers anaesthetic technology, chiropractic, dentistry and related professions, dietetics, medical laboratory science, medical radiation technology, midwifery, occupational therapy, optometry and optical dispensing, osteopathy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology and psychotherapy.
There is provision in the act for more occupations to be regulated. In 2016 traditional Chinese medicine was being considered for regulation.
Pharmacists are the allied health practitioners most regularly seen by New Zealanders. In 2015 there were 3,512 registered practising pharmacists. Pharmacists train at the National School of Pharmacy at the University of Otago, which was established in 1963.
In the 19th century pharmacists compounded medicines themselves. With the development of the international pharmaceutical industry in the early 20th century, the pharmacists’ main role became dispensing pre-prepared medicines. In the 21st century pharmacists supplement income from dispensing by selling a wide range of health and beauty products.
In November 2009 ACC reduced funding for physiotherapy by reducing the fee paid to physiotherapists for each treatment by one-third. ACC said that physiotherapy costs had increased from $39.7 million in 1999/2000 to $144 million in 2008/9. Critics said that physiotherapists were already underfunded and that limits on the amount of treatment in the short term would cause health costs to increase in the long term.
Physiotherapy developed from therapeutic massage, which emerged in the late 19th century. Official training courses started at hospitals in 1913. These courses evolved into four-year degree programmes available at the University of Otago and the Auckland University of Technology.
Physiotherapists have established themselves as experts in the treatment of sports injuries. They have many clients who receive funding for treatment through the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
ACC and health providers
ACC provides no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealanders and visitors to New Zealand. Many allied practitioners are ACC-registered so they can care for people who have received compensation.