Maintaining consumer focus in health complaints: the key to national best practice. Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
PIAC is concerned that the model for handling complaints about health professionals proposed in the Consultation Paper is a move away from more consumer focused models that have been adopted in several States and Territories in the past 20-30 years.
PIAC submits that a health complaints system that is compatible with nationally and internationally accepted standards should comply with the following principles:
- That any organisation or authority that affects the rights of individuals should have clearly defined powers and be accountable.
- That there is a clear separation of the role of regulation of accreditation and standard-setting matters from the role of assessment, investigation and prosecution of disciplinary and performance matters.
- That assessment, investigation and prosecution should be carried out by an independent body that employs dedicated officers to carry out these tasks in a timely manner.
- That there should be no potential for perception by consumers that the system is structured so that the professions can protect their members at the expense of protecting the public interest and patient safety.
- That the processes to determine serious disciplinary and competence matters should comply with the rules of procedural fairness and be conducted in an open and transparent manner. Written reasons should be provided for all decisions. Hearings should be open unless there is a compelling reason for them not to be. All parties including the complainant/ notifier should have a right to request a review of a decision, which is conducted at arms length from the decision-maker.
PIAC submits that an independent body that assesses, investigates and prosecutes health complaints should be a part of the national system for registration of health professionals. Alternatively, the national system should allow each state and territory maintain its existing mechanisms dealing with the assessment, investigation and prosecution of complaints about health professionals.