About complaints

Who do I speak to?

If you’re not satisfied with your health service provider, it’s OK to raise your concerns with them directly. We ask you to do this before lodging a complaint with us. Speaking directly with your health service provider is often the quickest and easiest way to resolve complaints.

Complaints about care, treatment or billing by a hospital are usually managed by a complaint liaison officer or patient representative – ask the hospital for more information.

Complaints about health records are usually managed by an organisation's health records manager or Freedom of Information (FOI) officer.

Smaller health service providers may not employ a dedicated complaint liaison officer or health records manager, but still need to have someone in charge of handling complaints.

If you are unable to take your complaint to the health service provider directly, then ask us for help.

Tips for making a complaint yourself

  • If the issue is easy to explain, or caused only a minor inconvenience, try talking directly with the provider. If the issue is complex or serious, you should make your complaint in writing (Try our complaint letter template).
  • Be clear about what went wrong, who was involved and when it happened.
  • Be clear about what solution would satisfy you.
  • Ask for a response to be supplied in writing.
  • The provider should quickly acknowledge they have received your complaint.
  • Once your complaint has been acknowledged, allow the health provider with time to address your complaint. The health provider may take up to three months to respond.

If you are not satisfied with the provider's response, speak to us or lodge a complaint with us.

Anyone can lodge a complaint with the Health Complaints Commissioner, including health service consumers and their friends and family members, health service staff and volunteers, concerned community members and professional organisations.

Carers can also complain about how they have been treated in their caring role.

Complaints can be made anonymously, but this does limit our ability to look into your issue and you won't receive updates on your complaint's progress.

You cannot be fired, disciplined or disadvantaged in any other way for making a complaint. You're also protected from legal actions such as defamation and civil liability.

If you’re complaining for someone else, you should get their permission before lodging a complaint.

You can make a complaint to us about any health service provided in Victoria. You can also make a complaint about anyone who holds your health records, including schools, gyms and other non-health service providers, about how they handle your information.

We manage complaints related to:

  • access to services
  • quality and safety
  • care and attention
  • respect, dignity and consideration
  • communication about treatment, options and costs
  • the level of involvement in healthcare decisions
  • access, privacy and confidentiality of personal health information
  • complaint handling by the health service provider.

You may complain about health service organisations such as a public or private hospitals, GP clinics or community health services, or about an individual health practitioner. You can complain to us about both registered and non-registered, or general, health service providers. Examples of these include:

  • Registered health service providers
    Doctors, dentists, nurses, surgeons, midwives, physiotherapists, chiropractors, psychologists, pharmacists, Chinese herbalists, occupational therapists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists, radiographers and Aboriginal health practitioners.
  • General health service providers
    Audiologists, naturopaths, dieticians, speech pathologists, homeopaths, counsellors, paramedics, massage therapists, doulas, alternative therapists and other providers of general health services.

Complaints about registered health service providers

We often handle complaints abour registered providers, however we may refer those involving professional conduct issues to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA works with the 14 National Boards to oversee registration and accreditation for each registered profession, so is best placed to handle some complaints involving registered providers.

Complaints about general health service providers

All general providers in Victoria must comply with the general code of conduct. A complaint may be about how the practitioner failed to meet their obligations under this code. You may also complain about a practitioner that is not abiding by the conditions of a prohibition order we have placed on them.

Complaints about health services provided outside Victoria

If your complaint relates to health services provided outside Victoria, or health information held interstate, see our list of other complaint handling bodies. This list also includes organisations handling complaints about aged care, disability and public mental health services.

Complaints can be valuable feedback for health service providers and sometimes lead to quality improvements for other service users.

If you come to us without trying to resolve the complaint yourself first, we may offer you advice on how to try that.

When we work with you and the provider to resolve your complaint through our voluntary process, outcomes can include:

  • an explanation about what happened and why
  • an apology
  • access to treatment
  • access or amendment to health records
  • a refund or compensation
  • a change in policy or practice to prevent future problems.

During the complaint resolution process we remain impartial and do not take sides.

If you are unabel to resolve a complaint yourself, lodge the complaint with us online, by phone, by mail or in person.

Before you lodge your complaint, make sure you have:

  • the name, address and contact details of the health service provider or organisation you are complaining about
  • all available supporting documents ready to upload, including:
    • your letter of complaint or email to the health service provider or organisation
    • their response to your complaint
    • any other supporting documents such as letters, referrals, photos or invoices.
  • if you are complaining for someone else, the consent of the person you are complaining for.

Where to lodge your complaint

Online
You can lodge a complaint online.

Phone
Call 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

In person or by mail
Visit or write to us at Level 26, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000. To make a time for your visit, call 1300 582 113.

Help lodging your complaint
For more information or for help filling in the online form, phone us on 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Interpreter
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.