FAQs - I am thinking of making a complaint

Who can make a complaint?

Any person can make a complaint. This may be:

  • the patient who received the health service
  • a parent or guardian
  • a relative, friend or representative chosen by the person
  • a health service provider, or
  • any other concerned person.

Does my complaint have to be in writing?

Complaints must be made in writing.

How do I lodge a complaint?

You can make an online complaint, download a complaint form, or send a letter, fax or email. For more information see 'Making a complaint'.

Who can I complain about?

You can complain about any health service provider in NSW, including:

  • any registered practitioner such as doctors, nurses and dentists
  • any unregistered provider, such as massage therapists, naturopaths and psychotherapists
  • any organisation offering a health service, such as public and private hospitals, and day surgeries and medical centres.

What can I complain about to the Commission?

You can complain about the professional conduct of a health practitioner and/or the clinical care and treatment provided by an individual or organisation.

What if I wish to remain anonymous?

All information you provide to the Commission is treated confidentially. However, in order to assess the issues raised in a complaint, the Commission usually seeks a response from the health service provider and is required to notify them of the nature of the complaint and who made it. By remaining anonymous it may make it difficult to obtain a relevant response to the specific issues and the Commission will not be able to clarify any information you provided or ask for further information that it may needs to assess the complaint. If this is the case, the Commission may have to discontinue dealing with a complaint.

You may wish to discuss this with the Inquiry Service before lodging your complaint. Sometimes, you may be able to make an anonymous notification to the Commission, but not a formal complaint. The Commission will record any information about a health service provider it receives in writing in its database. This may be useful, as where the notification alleges serious issues of public health and safety, the Commission has a discretion to initiate its own complaints. In addition, where the Commission receives a complaint about a health service provider, it considers previous complaints and notifications about the same provider that are recorded in its database.

Is it free to lodge a complaint?

There are no costs when making a complaint.

Can I be sued for making a complaint?

You cannot be sued for making a complaint, unless you intentionally make false allegations or provide false information to the Commission. It is an offence to knowingly provide false information to the Commission.

What can I do if a health service provider refuses to treat me?

A health service provider is required to provide treatment in an emergency situation. However, in non-emergency situations a health service provider can refuse to treat you.

What if I want to obtain compensation?

The Commission cannot compel a health service provider to compensate you. Should you wish to pursue compensation, you can seek legal advice.

What if I want to obtain a refund?

The Commission cannot compel a health service provider to provide you with a refund. Should you wish to pursue a refund, you can seek legal advice or contact the Office of Fair Trading.

Can I complain about the fees that a health service provider charges me?

The Commission cannot compel a health service provider to alter their fees or make any recommendations in relation to their fees. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) states that all members are duty bound to make their own judgment as to what fees they will charge for any service. Health service providers should consider in each individual case what a fair and reasonable fee is, taking into account their own costs, experience and the particular circumstances of the case and the patient. More information about fees in health care is available on this website.

Can the Commission change what is written in my medical records?

The Commission cannot make changes to your medical records. In general, nothing can be removed from your medical records. If you are unhappy with comments/information in your records, you can submit your own comments to the health service provider and ask that these be added to your records. More information about medical records and how to access them is available on this website.


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