When you make a complaint or raise a concern about a health practitioner or student, we gather information to assess whether there is a risk to the public. This information will help us determine whether regulatory action is needed to protect the public.
It is important that you know and understand your rights and our obligations if or when you consent to the collection, use or disclose of your personal information. The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) regulates AHPRA’s and the National Boards’ collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law), also imposes strict confidentiality obligations.
Who needs to provide consent for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information?
If you want to make a complaint or raise a concern about a health practitioner or student, we will ask for your consent to use and share your information. Your consent is provided in writing by completing the notifications form
Written consent is also required if you would like another person to act on your behalf and if the patient does not have the capacity to make decisions or the patient is deceased. This is because throughout the process we will provide the party acting on your behalf or on behalf of the patient with all relevant information related to the matter.
We will generally seek the personal information required directly from you. However, we may also be required to obtain information from other people or other agencies about you. This might include third party witness statements, government agencies such as Medicare or health services and hospitals.
How we use your personal information
To consider a complaint or concern
When you make a complaint and we receive consent to collect, use or disclose personal information, the ways we might undertake this can include (but are not limited to) collection directly from an individual or organisation either in person, by hard copy or electronic correspondence, over the telephone, and via the Internet.
Generally, we will inform the practitioner or student that a complaint or concern has been made about them and may disclose your personal info with the practitioner or student if you consent to this or it is required by law provide them with your personal information.
This is because the practitioner or student has the right to respond to the complaint or concerns raised and assists them to provide their response.
Examples of exceptions to informing the practitioner or student about the complaint or concern or providing your personal information may include where we believe it would:
- prejudice an investigation
- place a person’s safety at risk, or
- place a person at risk of intimidation.
You can elect to remain anonymous or confidential when you make a complaint to us, but this may limit our ability to effectively investigate your concern, and there may be limitations on the information we can then provide to you. You can find more information under Anonymous complaints or concerns and Providing your name to the practitioner (above).
Using your information to improve the way we work
To improve the way we work and what we do, we may use your information in monitoring, reporting and training our staff. This might include asking you to participate in a survey or using statistical data already collected to improve process and procedure. An analysis of any statistical information may be published in our annual report, or in reports provided to our stakeholders.
When we use information in these ways, we remove any personal or identifiable information and ensure the careful control over security and confidentiality.