National Adverse Event Policy Commences

Policy, New Zealand, Law, Employment, Rights, Contract, Medical

The new National Adverse Event Policy commences for Aotearoa/New Zealand on 1 July 2023. It improves on the old one.

At the Policy Place, we’ve been updating our members’ online Adverse Event Management policy to be ready for the commencement of the new national policy.
If you’re into the DIY approach, as a health and disability organisation, now is the time to review and update your policies and procedures. If you are over having to keep your policies and procedures updated, contact the Policy Place. We provide an online policy platform that includes regular reviews and updating of policies.
Ngā Paerewa Health and Disability Services Standard is a key quality assurance measure for Health and Disability agencies. It requires agencies to have policies and procedures that are consistent with the National Adverse Event policy.
A focus on restoration is a new feature of the policy and that’s what we’re reviewing in this post.

Restoration in the National Adverse Event policy?

A restorative approach is about addressing harm caused by an adverse event or as reflected in the subtitle of the national policy – it’s about “Healing, learning and improving from harm”. The aim is to restore the well-being and trust of an affected person and their whānau.  The impact of an adverse event must be acknowledged, responsibility accepted, and measures implemented to repair and improve the situation.

Key elements of the restorative approach

1. Communication and Support

The National Adverse Event policy highlights the importance of effective communication and support for patients, their families/whānau, and healthcare professionals involved in adverse events.  Open and honest communication is crucial to addressing the harm caused and to keeping people informed.

Appropriate and timely support and care is also crucial to assist people to cope with the aftermath of an adverse event. Planning for care is important and may include specialist and community referrals.

2. Learning and Improvement

The restorative approach emphasises the importance of learning from adverse events to prevent their recurrence. Healthcare agencies must review and investigate an event to uncover why and how it occurred and to plan and implement necessary changes to prevent similar incidents in the future. This focus on learning and improvement helps restore trust in the healthcare system by demonstrating a commitment to addressing and preventing harm.

3. Redress and Remedies

Restorative measures aim to redress harm and restore wellbeing. Redress can take many forms. It will depend on the legislative and regulatory framework, the wishes of the person harmed and the nature and circumstances of the harm.  An agency’s acknowledgement of harm may be sufficient. An apology for harm and its impacts can mean a lot. Or it may be necessary to arrange for compensation (ACC) and resourcing for ongoing care.

4. Cultural Considerations

The restorative approach recognises that cultural considerations are relevant to how healthcare professionals should engage with people impacted by an adverse event. Māori principles of restorative justice, such as manaakitanga (hospitality), whakawhanaungatanga (building relationships), and whakamana (empowerment) are important.


In Aotearoa/New Zealand, we’ve seen the restorative approach in action in a range of contexts, for example, in the Youth Justice System and criminal sentencing. It has been proven to have many benefits. As a key element of the new National Adverse Event Policy – it will foster a culture of accountability, trust, and learning within the healthcare system.

Check out Te Tāhū Hauora/HQSC website for all the resources it provides to support the implementation of the National policy.