Will I get a copy of the complaint about me?
The Commission is required to advise you that a complaint has been received about you, the nature of the complaint and who made it. The Commission will usually send you a copy of the complaint and seek a response. In some instances, where the notification would put at risk the health or safety of a person, or would prejudice an investigation or place a person at risk of intimidation or harassment, the Commission may decide not to notify you of the details of the complaint.
Will my response to the complaint be provided to the person who made the complaint?
You can opt for your response to be used for assessment purposes only. This means that a copy would not be released to the person who made the complaint without your consent.
Can the Commission obtain medical records?
The Commission can obtain medical records for its complaint-handling purposes.
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.
Will my employer by notified about the complaint?
When the Commission receives a complaint about a health practitioner, it will not notify their employer. Only where the complaint is also about the organisation that this person works for or the employer, the Commission will notify them of the complaint. However, the responses to the complaint are treated confidentially and separately.
When a complaint raises serious issues and is referred for investigation, the Commission will notify the relevant employer about the complaint. The Commission also has the discretion to notify the current employer, if they are different from the employer at the time the incident occured.
Will the Commission notify my registration board?
The Health Care Complaints Commission is required to advise the appropriate health professional council in NSW of complaints it receives about registered health practitioners. The councils share information with the relevant national board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Where can I seek support?
Any health practitioner may seek support in responding to complaints. The following may be of assistance:
- the complaints manager of your facility or Local Health District
- your professional indemnity insurer
- a lawyer or legal representative
- your professional association
- another support person.
I am being investigated, what is going to happen?
The Commission may ask you to provide information about the issues that are being investigated. It may also request supporting documentation, such as your records of the matter and your resume.
If, at the end of the investigation, the Commission is considering taking any action, you will be advised of the proposed action and invited to make a submission. You will be given 28 days to make those submissions, which is the timeframe set out in the Health Care Complaints Act.
What are the possible outcomes of an investigation?
At the end of investigations into registered practitioners, the Commission can:
- refer the matter to the Director of Proceedings to determine whether to prosecute the practitioner before a disciplinary body
- refer the matter to the appropriate registration body/council
- make comments to the practitioner
- terminate the matter and take no further action
- refer the complaint to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider criminal proceedings.
At the end of investigations into unregistered practitioners, the Commission can:
- terminate the matter and take no further action
- prohibit the health practitioner from providing any or specified health services for a specified period or permanently
- place temporary or permanent conditions on the provision of health services by this practitioner
- issue a public statement.
At the end of investigations into health organisations, the Commission can:
- terminate the complaint and take no further action
- make comments or recommendations aimed at improving health care delivery in future.
How long will the investigation take?
The Commission aims to finalise its investigations as quickly as possible. 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?
You will receive a letter advising you of the outcome of the investigation including the reasons for the outcome. If you are a registered practitioner, you also receive a full report outlining the allegations, the relevant evidence and the Commission’s findings at the conclusion of the investigation, unless the complaint has been referred to the Director of Proceedings to consider disciplinary proceedings. The Commission does not provide the investigation report where there may be a prosecution, because this could prejudice the proceedings.
If you are an unregistered health practitioner and the Commission found that there has been a breach of the code of conduct, or has made a decision to make a prohibition order or to issue a public statement, it is required to set out its findings. The Commission will also refer to the evidence upon which its findings were based and give reasons for the decision.
In addition, when making a prohibition order, the Commission must provide the statement of decision to the registration authorities and professional councils. The Commission may issue a public statement on its website.
What if I am not happy about the outcome at the end of the investigation?
If you are the registered practitioner who has been investigated, you are invited to give submissions about the proposed outcome before the Commission makes its final determination. You do not have any right to ask for a review of the outcome decision after the investigation has been concluded.
If the Commission has decided to issue a prohibition order or public statement concerning an unregistered practitioner at the end of an investigation, the practitioner may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of the decision.
If the investigation concerned a health organisation, the Health Care Complaints Act gives no right to request a review of the outcome of the investigation.