Resolving concerns about your health care

Concerns about health care can often be resolved quickly and effectively by speaking to the provider directly. However, if the nature of your complaint makes it inappropriate or uncomfortable to talk to the provider you can contact the Commission directly to lodge your complaint.

The tips below may be helpful if you wish to try and resolve your concerns directly with your provider.

Start immediately

Start to resolve the problem as soon as possible by making a phone call or writing a letter to the health service provider. In some instances you may wish to contact another person about your concerns (such as a Patient Liaison Officer or Complaints Officer in a hospital or the Practice Manager in a clinic)

Be fair

It is important to let the person know that you are contacting them because of some concern or dissatisfaction. Remember that the other person may have no idea that there was a problem and may need time to look into your concerns before they can respond.

Be clear

Before you contact the health service provider, be clear about what issues and concerns you have. You may want to write them down, as it will help you to clarify your concerns and you will not forget to raise any of them. The following questions may guide you.

Who was involved?

Remember to state:

  • your name, address and telephone number
  • whether you are acting on behalf of someone else – if so, state their name and your relationship to them (for example, friend, son, wife)
  • the name and title of the health provider/s involved (if you are not contacting them directly)
  • the name and contact details of anyone else who was a witness or has relevant information.

What happened?

Briefly describe the events leading to the complaint. It will assist if it is clear what the health provider did, or did not do. You should include dates and times in your description.

What are your concerns?

List your specific concerns (for example, problems with your medication, concerns about your treatment, lack of information about treatment options). Start with the most important concern.

What are your expectations?

Be clear about what you are hoping to achieve (for example, an apology, information about your condition, an explanation, or options for further treatment). Let them know whether you prefer a meeting, a written reply or to talk about the matter on the telephone.

Resolve your concerns

There are different ways to raise your concerns. The following tips can help you to get the information you want and to find a resolution to your issues that is acceptable to everyone.

Remember

  • Listen to the information given to you by the other person. Try to see the issue also from their point of view.
  • Avoid using language that might upset another person.
  • Ask the health service provider to explain information that you do not understand.

Tips for telephone calls

  • Ask who the appropriate person is to speak to about your concerns. Write down the name and phone number of the person you speak to, note the date, and ask if there is a reference number.
  • Ask whether they can deal with your concerns over the phone or whether you need to put them in writing.
  • You may wish to take notes of what has been discussed.

Tips for writing a letter or email

  • When writing your letter or email, include all information you have and what you would like to happen as an outcome of your complaint.
  • Before you send the letter or email, read through it again and make sure that you have included everything you wanted. Remember to include your contact details.
  • Always keep a copy for yourself.
  • Call to check whether your letter or email has been received.
  • Allow a few weeks for the health service provider to respond.

Tips for meetings

  • When everyone has agreed to meet, it is useful to provide your questions to the health service provider well in advance, so they can have the information needed to respond to them.
  • Tell the provider what you want to achieve as a result of the meeting.
  • You may ask a support person to join you at the meeting. Let the provider know that you wish to bring another person with you.
  • You may take notes during the meeting.
  • At the end of the meeting, if something was agreed to happen, make sure that you have the contact details of the responsible person, if you need to follow up.

Contact the Commission

If you cannot resolve your concerns directly you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Still need more information

If you would like to speak to someone at the Commission for more information before you lodge a written complaint you can contact the Inquiry Line during business hours, Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm on 1800 043 159 or submit an online inquiry.

Online inquiry

Ready to lodge your complaint

All complaints must be made in writing and we aim to assess complaints within 60 days. Your complaint will be allocated to an assessment officer and we will write to you to explain the outcome of your complaint.

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You can track the progress of your complaint online.

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