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How to make a complaint about a health or disability service, or a health practitioner

Office of the Health Complaints Commissioner (OHCC)/Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

You can complain to either AHPRA or OHCC about a:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner
  • Chinese medicine practitioner
  • chiropractor
  • dentist
  • medical practitioner (doctor)
  • midwife
  • medical radiation practitioner
  • nurse
  • occupational therapist
  • optometrist
  • osteopath
  • paramedic
  • pharmacist
  • physiotherapist
  • podiatrist

Most doctors do their utmost for their patients, but there may be a time when you are unhappy with the care you receive from a medical practitioner.  If this happens:

  1. Talk to your doctor about why you are unhappy with the care or advice you have received. They should be willing to discuss any concerns you have.

  2. You may prefer to discuss your concerns with another doctor in the practice or the practice manager. If you are unhappy with these responses, or you think the care you received was not of a good standard, then you may consider contacting the Health Complaints Commission.

The Health Complaints Commissioner is an independent and accessible ombudsman. The Commissioner strongly emphasises conciliation in resolving complaints between patients and providers. Serious complaints are investigated. The Commissioner also recommends action to improve health services. You may go to the Commissioner if you have a complaint about the services of dentists, medical practitioners, hospitals, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers in a health setting, ambulances, nursing homes, hostels, supported residential services, nurses, naturopaths, acupuncturists, and others. The Commissioner will determine if your complaint is a serious matter affecting standards of care and whether it should be referred to Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, AHPRA
A link to the State Ombudsman's annual reports page with statistics on health complaints in Tasmania is HERE

What can the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency do?

AHPRA receives complaints about registered health practitioners for the relevant Board[1]. The Board registers health practitioners so they can practise their profession in Australia. The Register of Practitioners is available HERE

The Board will act to protect the public if:

  • a practitioner’s behaviour is placing the public at risk
  • a practitioner is practising their profession in an unsafe way, or
  • a practitioner’s ability to make safe judgments about their patients might be impaired because of their health.

The Board might need to gather more information before it can take action. The Board can ensure that to keep practising, the practitioner must:

 work with a supervisor

  • have further education, or
  • do or not do something to keep the public safe.

The Board can decide to talk to the OHCC about your complaint. For very serious matters, the Board may refer the practitioner to the Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal. The tribunal can suspend or cancel the practitioner’s registration.

If you make a complaint to a Board, AHPRA will update you about what is happening and let you know the Board’s final decision.

What can the Office of the Health Complaints Commissioner do?

You can make a complaint if you:

  • think the way your care was provided was unsatisfactory or unreasonable
  • didn’t understand what happened with your healthcare
  • think you weren’t treated fairly or with respect, or
  • are concerned about the health service.

OHCC can help you:

  • get an explanation about what happened and why
  • seek an apology or acknowledgement that you were harmed
  • seek a change in health service or hospital systems so it doesn’t happen again, or
  • explore other outcomes such as provision of a health treatment, compensation or refund to address the problem.

OHCC:

  • supports your right to safe and high quality health care
  • supports your right to complain
  • is free and confidential
  • is independent and doesn’t take sides, and
  • works to make sure complaints are used to improve the safety and quality of services.

If the practitioner is a registered health practitioner, OHCC must talk to AHPRA and the Board about your complaint to decide whether the Board or OHCC will manage all or part of your complaint. You can complain to the OHCC about all health services provided in Tasmania including:

  • hospitals
  • medical /dental practices
  • pharmacies
  • ambulance services
  • mental health services
  • some disability services, or
  • all health care workers (registered or unregistered).

We can...

By working together, the OHCC, AHPRA and the Boards can improve the quality and safety of health services.

If a Board believes there is a serious risk to public safety, it can restrict or remove a practitioner’s right to practise.

We can’t...

  • give you advice about your health
  • tell a practitioner to give you medication or treatment
  • tell a practitioner to give you your health records, or
  • help you bring legal proceedings against anybody.

Have you contacted the health service or health practitioner directly?

This is often the quickest way to resolve a complaint.

We invite you to contact us

AHPRA

Level 5

99 Bathurst St

Hobart TAS 7000

GPO Box 9958 Hobart

TAS 7001

1300 419 495

www.ahpra.gov.au

OHCC

Level 6

86 Collins St

Hobart TAS 7000

1800 001 170

www.healthcomplaints.tas.gov.au

National Relay Service

www.relayservice.gov.au

Translating and Interpreting Service  

www.tisnational.gov.au  131 450 


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