Under the Health Care Complaints Act the Commission has a role in resolving complaints.
Why is a complaint referred to the Commission’s Resolution Service?
The Commission does not investigate all complaints. Only those that raise serious issues of public health or safety, or would lead to disciplinary action against the health practitioner are referred for formal investigation. Some complaints may not reach this threshold, but the Commission believes that they raise important issues that may be resolved with the help of the Commission’s Resolution Service.
The Resolution Service helps all parties involved to resolve outstanding issues and questions as to the care and treatment that was provided.
What happens during resolution?
The Resolution Service has two options to deal with the complaint: resolution or conciliation.
Please note: Both resolution and conciliation are voluntary processes that require the consent of both parties.
A Resolution Officer from the Commission will contact the parties to discuss how to best address any outstanding issues and questions.
Resolution means that a Resolution Officer will assist the person making the complaint and the health service provider to resolve the complaint. Options range from obtaining further information or explanations, to negotiating a solution at a face-to face meeting.
Conciliation means that a Resolution Officer, after obtaining consent from the parties, will refer the complaint to an independent conciliator who will hold a formal face-to-face meeting.
At the meeting, the parties confidentially discuss the complaint and agree on ways to resolve it. The object of conciliation is to negotiate an agreement that is acceptable to everyone involved.
What are possible outcomes?
Where both parties are willing to engage with each other in resolution or conciliation, outcomes may include:
- providing and receiving information and explanations
- a verbal and/or written apology
- improved future services
- continuation of treatment
- improved communication between the parties
- in some cases, refunds of medical expenses.
What if serious issues come to light?
If further significant information comes to light during the resolution or conciliation process, the Commission considers that information and, if necessary, will re-assess its initial decision to refer the complaint to the Resolution Service. Sometimes, the Commission might add additional health service providers that were involved in the clinical management or care provided. This means that a new complaint assessment process is initiated regarding the clinical management or care provided by that health practitioner or organisation.