The Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service is a free service that operates independently from all health and disability service providers, government agencies and HDC. If you want to know more about your rights when using health or disability services, get questions answered, or make a complaint, we can help.

Freephone: 0800 555 050



We were privileged to hear a talk about the Health and Disability Advocacy Service by advocate Emma Smith. From the North Shore branch, she explained how the service is designed to resolve issues at an early stage between patients and the providers. It has a contract with the Health and Disability Commissioner to provide this assistance to patients. 

Advocates are on the side of the patients and act as facilitators, they are not adversarial, not investigators or lawyers with only a few complaints going right through to the Commissioner. The service is in fact a tool for quality improvement.

She gave an example of a patient whose providers avoided informing her of her poor MRI results. Different providers passed the buck and maybe lied. Their job was to try to resolve the issue with the providers and the patient. We have a right to be fully informed.

When they see numerous complaints about the same provider they can notify the DHB.

One interesting  complaint was from a patient who woke up from surgery with no teeth. She had not been informed and wanted to know what happened. The hospital said nothing happened and the case had not been fully documented. It’s hard to resolve issues when no documentation exists.

She said that the providers come under the Code of Rights but ACC does not. This is frustrating for patients and there needs to be more accountability. However, when there is a treatment injury, they can help people with ACC and the provider.

Emma mentioned one resolution process where the patient was so eloquent that the provider asked her to contribute to a series of patient stories.

They can help us obtain our medical notes.

The HDC and Advocacy service act to uphold the Code of Rights as you might often see on a poster in hospital waiting rooms. 

There is a wealth of information on the HDC website.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Diana Ayling

You need to be a member of Head & Neck Cancer Support Network to add comments!

Join Head & Neck Cancer Support Network


  • As the direct approach of making a complaint against 2 staff members at WDHB was met with a wall of silence we are trying another approach.  We now have an HDC Advocate in Wanganui, R Howells.  We have taken our complaint against 2 members of the WDHB staff to her and now await her response as she cannot help with the complaint goinfg to the HDC.  Ever decreasing circles !!!

  • I think so Gloria. They've always been where I go - three hospitals in last few years. 

    • HDC posters are not fully evident in and around Wanganui, especially the hospital with very few in evidence - and sometimes in obscure places.  They should be in EVERY medical establishment such as GP's, dentists, pharmacies, etc.  We saw them all over both Hutt and Palmerston North Hospitals during surgeries, dental appointments, check ups and radiation treatment.

This reply was deleted.

Happy with your treatment experience?

Please share your thoughts on your recent treatment experience. This can be at any stage of your cancer journey, pre treatment, treatment, post treatment, and survivorship. 

You can take our survey as many times as you like, and we encourage you to have your family/whanau and carers share their thoughts as well. Click the link to share your thoughts.



Cancer Dictionary