Our free, impartial complaints process offers an alternative to legal proceedings
Our complaints process is free, impartial, voluntary and an alternative to legal proceedings. Often the quickest and easiest way to resolve a complaint is to take it directly to the provider.
This is an important first step before we will deal with a complaint, unless it is not reasonable for them to approach a provider. For example, where the type of complaint raises issues which would make it unreasonable for that complainant to have to contact the provider.
- Anyone can lodge a complaint with us about a health service provided in Victoria, or about the handling of health records in Victoria.
- Anyone with concerns about a health service that is being provided can make a complaint. This includes health service consumers and their friends and family members, health service staff and volunteers, concerned community members and professional organisations.
If you are lodging a complaint for someone else, you should obtain their permission first. To make a complaint online head to our Make a Complaint page to commence.
Once your complaint is lodged
Once you have lodged your complaint, whether by phone or via our complaints form, we will then assess it and decide the best way to proceed.
Sometimes the Health Complaints Commissioner may not be the best avenue and there may be another agency more suitable or we may not legally be able to deal with the matter.
In this case, we may refer it on.
We may decline a complaint if:
- the complaint has no evidence
- has already been dealt with
- was lodged more than a year (12 months) after the incident, without a good reason for the time delay
We are independent and impartial. We do not compel parties to participate in complaints resolution, although we can investigate providers who refuse to participate when they do not have a reasonable excuse for doing so, and if the Commissioner determines that it is necessary to investigate.
What are the ways a complaint can be resolved?
Early resolution is the least formal – and often the quickest – way to resolve complaints.
In most cases, we discuss the complaint with both parties over the phone to clarify the problem and to identify an acceptable solution.
The formal resolution process involves a series of steps, each leading towards finding an acceptable solution.
The steps are:
- We work with the complainant to write a formal description of the complaint and develop a resolution plan. This may include requests for meetings, medical records, reports or independent opinions. We then send the formal description of the complaint to the health service provider for a response.
- Our process is to then work with the parties to help them reach an outcome. One possible outcome may be that the provider agrees to improve their service in response to the complaint. These commitments can be documented and shared with all parties. We may follow up with the provider to confirm that these improvements have been made.
Investigations are formal and detailed examinations used for highly complex matters. Unlike with complaints resolution, the parties are required to participate in the investigation. We can oblige parties to produce evidence and attend hearings and a final report is provided when completed. Both public and private organisations, as well as individuals, can be investigated. An investigation can only occur if the Commissioner agrees to conduct an investigation in the particular circumstances.
What are some possible outcomes?
For early resolution complaints, possible outcomes include an explanation, apology, refund, access to treatment, access or correction of records or change in policy. For formal resolution, outcomes are similar to the early resolution but can include recommended undertakings agreed to by the provider, which are documented and shared with all parties.
With an investigation, the final report may be shared with all parties. Possible outcomes include recommendations for the provider, a prohibition order to stop services being delivered or a public warning statement to protect the public.
The Commissioner can launch follow-up investigations to ensure recommendations have been acted upon.
How to lodge a complaint with us
Before you lodge your complaint, make sure you have the following:
- the name, address and contact details of the health service provider or organisation you are complaining about
- any relevant supporting documents, including:
- your letter of complaint or email to the health service provider, or organisation
- their response to your complaint
- other supporting documents such as letters, referrals, photos or invoices.
- the consent of the person you are lodging the complaint for, if you are making a complaint for someone else
You can then lodge a complaint online using our interactive form.
You can also lodge a complaint by the calling us on 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or by writing to us at: Level 26, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000.
Help lodging your complaint
If you need more information or help filling in the online form, call us on 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
If you need an interpreter, call us via TIS National on 131 450.
National Relay Service: If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, contact us via the National Relay Service