Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
 

Other health complaints organisations

Under the National Law, AHPRA works with health complaints entities (HCEs) in each state and territory, to decide which organisation should take responsibility for and manage the complaint or concern raised about a registered health practitioner. 

Your state or territory health complaints entity

The health complaints entities in each state and territory are listed below:

State or Territory Contact
Australian Capital Territory Health Services Commissioner within the ACT Human Rights Commission
New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission
Northern Territory Health And Community Services Complaints Commission (HCSCC)
Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO)
South Australia Health And Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC)
Tasmania Health Complaints Commissioner
Victoria Office Of The Health Services Commissioner

Mental Health Complaints Commissioner
Western Australia Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO)

Do you want to find out more about health complaints entities?

Health complaints entities (HCEs) investigate concerns about health systems or health service providers. They can also investigate certain concerns about health practitioners, such as fees and charges and may also help with financial compensation and dispute resolution processes between health service users and health service providers. This can include mediation and/or conciliation.

The role and powers of the Human Rights Commission in the ACT are slightly different. Find more information on the Human Rights Commission in the ACT.

The main role of National Boards is to protect the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified, and who practise in a competent and ethical manner, are registered.

This means that, when dealing with a complaint or concern, a National Board can only investigate the complaint or concern if it has information that there might be risk to the public.

The HCEs have a different purpose and are set up to resolve a dispute or complaint between a health service user (such as a patient) and a health service provider (such as a hospital, clinic or a health practitioner).

Here are some examples about how HCEs and the National Boards deal with different complaints, or how they may deal with the same complaint or concern differently.

  • AHPRA and a National Board can only accept a complaint or concern about an individual health practitioner and cannot accept a complaint about a health service provider. 
  • HCEs may be able to accept a complaint about a health service provider (such as a health practitioner, a clinic or a hospital), including people working in healthcare that are not registered health practitioners. This might include nutritionists, masseuses, naturopaths, homeopaths, dieticians, social workers and speech pathologists. 
  • A National Board can only take action against a health practitioner’s registration. 
  • HCEs cannot take any action against a health practitioner’s registration. 
  • A National Board cannot award any financial compensation or arrange for dispute resolution between a patient and a health practitioner. A National Board cannot make a health practitioner apologise. 
  • HCEs will usually aim to find a way to resolve the dispute or complaint between a health practitioner and a health service user (such as a patient).

Depending on the individual complaint or a concern it might need to be dealt with by AHPRA and a National Board, or a HCE. It can be the case that a complaint or concern will need to be dealt with by AHPRA and a National Board as well as an HCE.

The National Law requires AHPRA to tell a HCE about a complaint or concern about a health practitioner that could also have been made to a HCE.

Complaints and concerns about registered health practitioners received by a HCE are then shared with AHPRA.

If a HCE and AHPRA agree the complaint will be managed by the HCE, discussions with AHPRA may occur during and after the HCE investigation, if needed.

HCEs and AHPRA work jointly to share information and assess concerns that have been made to both agencies. They decide which organisation should take responsibility for managing a complaint or concern and how it should be managed. If the HCE and the Board cannot agree on what action to take, the most serious action proposed must be taken.

Each state and territory has its own procedures for processing HCE complaints, subject to agreement and the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) which exist between AHPRA and HCEs.

Find out more about the agreement between AHPRA and the HCEs.

Notification to AHPRA involving practitioner and patient Notification to AHPRA not involving practitioner and patient* Complaint to a HCE involving practitioner Complaint to AHPRA involving a system or organisation problem  Complaint made to both AHPRA and a HCE
Recorded by AHPRA, shared with the HCE and joint decision made about who will manage it. Recorded by AHPRA and managed solely by AHPRA on behalf of a National Board. Recorded by the HCE, shared with AHPRA and joint decision made about who will manage it. Recorded by AHPRA but usually handled by the HCE. Recorded by AHPRA and the HCE, shared between both and a joint decision made about who will manage it.

*Examples of notifications that do not involve a practitioner and a patient include employer-initiated concerns about a practitioner’s performance and notifications (complaints) from other health practitioners about the health of a practitioner.

Find out more about how to make a complaint to AHPRA or a HCE.

 
 
 
 
Page reviewed 2/09/2016