‘Notifications’ are concerns or complaints about registered health practitioners.
In the National Scheme, we call a complaint about a registered health practitioner a ‘notification’, except in Queensland where the word used is ‘complaint’ (from 1 July 2014). They are called notifications in the law because we are ‘notified’ about concerns or complaints, which AHPRA and the National Boards then manage.
Anyone can raise a concern about a registered health practitioner by contacting AHPRA, unless the concern is about an incident that occurred in New South Wales or Queensland.
Notifications can be made about a health practitioner’s health, conduct or performance.
The powers of the National Boards and AHPRA are set down in the National Law. Responding to notifications about the health, conduct or performance of health practitioners is one of the most important parts of our role in the National Scheme.
Keeping the public safe is the goal that guides the way we deal with each notification we receive. When we look at notifications, we consider whether the practitioner has failed to meet the standards set by the Board; and consider what needs to happen to make sure that the practitioner is aware of what has gone wrong and learns from this, so the same problem doesn’t happen again. The Boards also consider if they need to limit the practitioner’s registration in some way to keep the public safe.
There is a consistent process for managing notifications, but there is no uniform response as every notification is different. The fact that a notification has been made does not automatically affect a practitioner’s ability to practise unless the notification indicates there is a serious risk to public safety.
Every notification is managed individually. When multiple notifications are received about the same practitioner, these can be considered together by the Board.
We also work with the independent health complaints entities (HCEs) in each state and territory to make sure the most appropriate organisation is dealing with the concern that has been raised. Read about how we work with health complaints entities (HCEs). We have also published a list of HCEs for your reference.
How do notifications and complaints work in NSW and Queensland?
While AHPRA manages notifications in most states and territories, different arrangements are in place in NSW and Queensland.
In NSW, the entire notifications process is managed by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) and health professions councils, meaning that the National Boards and AHPRA are not involved. For more information, go to the Health Care Complaints Commission website or call 02 - 9219 7444.
In Queensland, complaints are received by the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) who assesses their severity and determines which complaints go to the National Boards, and which will be managed by the OHO. When complaints are referred to the relevant National Boards (which AHPRA will manage on their behalf), the process that is followed is as described in this website. For more information about making a complaint in Queensland, call 133646 (133 OHO).