Healthcare provider behaviour guidelines

Southern Cross Medical Care Society (Southern Cross) is committed to having good, positive relationships with healthcare providers. Our goal is to be accessible, responsive and to foster relationships of mutual respect and understanding.

Southern Cross also has a duty to protect and support its staff, their health and safety and to provide a safe workplace. Southern Cross is committed to taking all necessary steps to prevent or manage unacceptable behaviour by healthcare providers and minimise harm from interactions where healthcare provider behaviour may negatively impact our staff.

These guidelines have been developed to help manage situations where our staff encounter unacceptable behaviour from healthcare providers by setting out:

  • what could be considered unacceptable behaviour
  • what Southern Cross may do in such situations to manage unacceptable behaviour and its impact.

What is unacceptable behaviour?

Most healthcare providers who we interact with act professionally, reasonably and responsibly. However, in a small number of cases, our staff experience behaviour by healthcare providers that is unreasonable and unacceptable.

The Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) has a Statement on unprofessional behaviour which their members are expected to follow. We subscribe to this statement as a minimum requirement of healthcare provider behaviour, to ensure there is a clear understanding and consistency for healthcare providers regarding expectations for conduct and professionalism.

The MCNZ Statement on unprofessional behaviour includes the following description:

While it is not possible to list every action or behaviour that may be considered unprofessional, it includes, but is not limited to, behaviour such as bullying, intimidation or harassment; discrimination, racism, insensitivity or rudeness towards others; putting your own interests ahead of your patient’s, violent, abusive, threatening or offensive behaviour; demanding, aggressive (including passive aggressive) and overly critical comments or behaviour; or refusal to work collaboratively with others or to follow best practice. Inappropriate communication, including use of social media, can also be considered unprofessional, whether this is directly related to a doctor’s work or not.

Southern Cross considers that when a healthcare provider behaves in any of these ways their behaviour is unacceptable for the purposes of these guidelines.

To be clear, Southern Cross does not accept any harm, abuse or threats directed at our staff at any time, particularly when they are trying to do their job. Any behaviour of this kind by a healthcare provider towards our staff will result in the following:

  • an investigation by Southern Cross, including capturing feedback from the affected Southern Cross staff member(s), others who witnessed the behaviour, the healthcare provider and the organisation concerned
  • preparation of an investigation report
  • a review of the investigation report by the Southern Cross Chief of Healthcare Partnerships
  • the outcome of the investigation being communicated to relevant parties
  • recommended actions being taken in line with these guidelines (see below).

Any such behaviour from our staff towards healthcare providers will undergo a similar investigation.


Possible actions for unacceptable behaviour

Depending on the behaviour, Southern Cross may take the following action/s:

  • request formally in writing that discussions and meetings are handled in a courteous and reasonable manner and that any unacceptable behaviour ceases immediately
  • request that someone else from the healthcare provider’s organisation undertakes discussions/ interactions in relation to the contractual relationship
  • raise the unacceptable behaviour with the organisation’s CEO or Board of the healthcare provider to discuss concerns and implications
  • report the healthcare provider or organisation to the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ)
  • report the healthcare provider or organisation to the relevant medical college/association
  • formally put the contract holder of the AP agreement on notice and explain the potential consequences should further unacceptable behaviour occur.

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Need help?

If you have any questions, please contact your Partnership Manager.