What should you do when a complaint has been made about you?
We recognise that it can be stressful when a complaint has been made about you. We encourage you to:
- seek advice from your professional association or professional indemnity insurer about the complaint and
- seek support from your general practitioner if you need it.
It may also be helpful to talk to a colleague, your family or a close friend, who can support you through the process.
Your participation is important and will assist a council to resolve a complaint in a fair, efficient and timely manner.
Councils take all complaints seriously and consider them individually. Councils don’t always take regulatory action as a result of receiving a complaint if there are reasons not to do so. Councils and staff work hard to make sure processes are fair, and tailored to the unique circumstances of each matter.
What can you expect from the complaints process?
Be treated with respect
We expect all of our communication with you to be respectful.
Be kept informed
The council will tell you:
- who will be managing the complaint
- the progress of the complaint
- about actions taken that affect your registration
- the outcome of the complaint
Provide additional information
A council may ask you to provide additional information. You can send a council any information you think is appropriate.
Provide feedback to us
Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about our procedures, access to information or quality of service.
Will you get a copy of the complaint?
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) will usually send you a copy of the complaint and ask you to respond. There are some rare exceptions when they will not tell you they have received a complaint about you. This happens if they think advising you would:
- put your health and safety at risk (or someone else’s), or
- if it would prejudice an investigation, or
- put someone at risk of harassment or intimidation.
In some uncommon circumstances, the HCCC will not tell you the identity of the person making the complaint, such as when there are privacy and confidentiality issues.
If the HCCC and the council decide to take no regulatory action in response to a complaint, the council will tell the person who has made the complaint of this decision.
What are the steps in the complaints process?
Learn more about the complaints process.
Will you be involved in the complaint process?
What a council asks of you will depend on the complaint and what a council or the HCCC decide needs to happen. Some of the possible ways you might be involved include:
- attending an interview or counselling
- attending a health assessment
- having your professional performance assessed
- attending a meeting with the person who has made the complaint if the complaint is referred to conciliation
- being interviewed by an HCCC investigator if the complaint is investigated
Will you be given a chance to put your side of the case?
Yes. To start with, all communication from a council with you will be in writing. A council will ask you to respond to the complaint so you can tell them what happened from your perspective. If the complaint is assessed as requiring investigation, an HCCC investigator may contact you directly. If a council is handling the complaint, we may ask you to come to a meeting to discuss the matter. In some circumstances you may be required to attend a hearing.
How long will it take to assess a complaint and decide what to do about it?
The HCCC or a council will tell you that a complaint has been made about you as soon as they can after receiving the complaint. The HCCC will complete its preliminary assessment within 60 days and then consult with a council on the course of action to take in response to the issues raised in the complaint and the response.
How can you find out more about what is happening?
Contact us to find more about what is happening.
If we are handling the matter, you can call us or contact your professional indemnity insurer or legal representative and ask for an update.
If the HCCC is investigating, you can contact the HCCC investigator whose name and contact details are included in their letter.
Who will be informed about the complaint? When?
The National Law requires us to advise your employer and what we must disclose to them. We will tell your employer or any facility where you are accredited if:
- conditions are imposed on your registration
- conditions are imposed on your registration are changed or removed
- your registration is suspended or cancelled
Restrictions on your registration are also published on the national register of practitioners which is maintained by AHPRA.
We inform AHPRA when:
- we receive a complaint about you
- your registration is restricted in some way, so AHPRA can update the online register of practitioners
- we have finished managing the complaint, and what the outcome was
What are the possible outcomes of the complaint?
A council or the HCCC will write to you and tell you the outcome of the complaint. Learn more about complaint outcomes.
What outcomes are published on the national register?
The law sets out what is published on the online register of practitioners. Details about your registration status are always published. The following outcomes are published:
- restrictions on your registration, including conditions
- if your registration is suspended
- if your registration has been cancelled
Cautions and counselling are not published on the online register.
What if you don’t agree with the outcome?
If you don't agree with the outcome, you have review and appeal rights. You will be provided with some information about these rights throughout the assessment process. You will also be sent a fact sheet relevant to your circumstances when you are advised of the outcome of the complaint. Your insurer, trade union or an independent lawyer may be able to assist you with advice about your individual circumstances.