FAQs - I have lodged a complaint

Will a copy of my complaint be given to the health service provider?

The Commission is required to advise a health service provider that a complaint has been received about them. The Commission will usually send a copy of your complaint to the provider to seek a response. In some instances the Commission can decide not to notify the health service provider of the details of the complaint. This is done only where the notification would put at risk the health or safety of a person, prejudice an investigation, or place a person at risk of intimidation or harassment.

Will I be given a copy of the response from the health service provider?

The Health Service Provider can opt for their response to be used for assessment purposes only. This means that a copy will not be released to you without the consent of the provider.

If the health service provider has agreed to their response being shared with the person who made the complaint, you will receive a copy of their response with the Commission’s decision letter.  

What if I want to withdraw my complaint?

A request to withdraw a complaint must be made in writing. The Commission would then take no further action and would not notify the health service provider of the complaint. However, should the complaint raise significant issues of public health and safety, the Commission has the discretion to continue dealing with the matter.

Can the Commission obtain medical records?

The Commission can obtain your medical records for its complaint-handling purposes only. The Commission cannot get access to your medical records on your behalf. You do have legal rights to gain access to your health records from public and private health services and providers. More information about accessing medical records can be found on this website.

If you are having difficulty accessing or obtaining a copy of your health records, contact the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner or the NSW Privacy Commissioner.

How long will it take to assess a complaint?

The Commission is required to assess all complaints within 60 days. In complex cases or where there is further information required to make a decision, it may take longer.

Will I be advised of the outcome?

You will be notified of the outcome of the complaint in writing within 14 days of the complaint being assessed.

How am I protected if I complain? Is everyone going to know that I have complained about the doctor?

It is an offence for staff of the Commission to improperly disclose information without the consent of the person to whom the information relates to unless it is in connection with the exercise of the Commission's functions or with a lawful excuse. This means that the Commission will need to notify the practitioner/organisation complained about.

Please note that the Commission cannot stop the provider you complained about from disclosing to others that you have made a complaint.

My complaint was referred for formal investigation, how long will the investigation take?

The Commission aims to finalise its investigations as quickly as possible. The majority of investigations are being finalised within nine months. The actual length of the investigation depends on the complexity of the case. The investigation officer will update you on the progress of the investigation.

My complaint is being investigated, will I be told what happens at the end of the investigation?

Yes, you will receive a letter advising you of the outcome of the investigation. In general, you will also receive a full report outlining the allegations, the relevant evidence and the Commission’s findings at the conclusion of the investigation. However, if the complaint has been referred to the Director of Proceedings to consider disciplinary proceedings, a report will not be provided to you, as this could have an adverse effect on any prosecution.

What if I am not happy about the outcome at the end of the investigation?

If you made a complaint about an individual practitioner (registered or unregistered), you have the right to request a review if you are not happy about the outcome of the investigation. Any request for a review must be in writing and should set out the reasons for asking for the review.

If the investigation concerned a health organisation, the legislation does not provide a right to request a review.

I made a complaint about a practitioner/organisation and now I have found out that the Commission is investigating another practitioner/organisation. I don’t agree with this decision. What can I do?

There are certain circumstances, in which the Commission must investigate a complaint. This includes where the Commission finds that:

  • there is a significant question of public health and safety
  • there is a significant question raised as to the appropriate care or treatment provided
  • the matter, if substantiated, would provide grounds for disciplinary action.

Sometimes, when dealing with complaints, the Commission may identify additional health service providers involved in the care. If the above criteria apply, the Commission must investigate them, even if the person who made the complaint does not want this to happen.