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Health complaints

Health complaints

As a first step, you can attempt to resolve the issue directly with the health service provider. You can do this in writing or in person. Keep a record of any communication with the service about your problem.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at that level you can complain to the:

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which manages investigations into the professional conduct, performance or health of registered health practitioners for the following boards:     
        • Chiropractic Board of Australia
        • Dental Board of Australia
        • Medical Board of Australia
        • Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
        • Optometry Board of Australia
        • Osteopathy Board of Australia
        • Pharmacy Board of Australia
        • Physiotherapy Board of Australia
        • Podiatry Board of Australia
        • Psychology Board of Australia
        • Chinese Medicine Board
        • Medical Radiation Practice Board
        • Occupational Therapy Board
        • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Health Practice Board 

Note: when complaints relate to a registered health professional, HaDSCO, by law, is required to consult with the AHPRA. This will determine which agency is the most appropriate to deal with the complaint.

You can make a notification or express concerns to AHPRA about a registered health professional or student by downloading the Notification Form, completing and mailing it to the AHPRA office in WA.  If you have concerns regarding completing the form, need assistance or an interpreter, contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495 and ask to speak to a Notifications Officer in WA.

What is the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office?

The Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO) is an independent statutory authority providing a resolution service for complaints relating to health or disability services provided in WA. This service is free and available to all users and providers of health or disability services.

What health services are covered by HaDSCO?

You can complain about any individual or organisations that provide, or claim to provide a health service. This includes:

  • Ambulance service
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Hospitals
  • Medical practitioners
  • Nurses and midwifery
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Pharmacists
  • Psychologists
  • Screening and immunisation services
  • Social workers in a health setting

For more details go to the HaDSCO website.

Who can make a complaint to the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office?

You can make a complaint if you are a:

  • user of a health service
  • relative, representative or carer of the user of a health service
  • representative of a person who has died
  • recognised advocate of the person who received the service
  • provider of a health service for a user about a health service provided by another provider
  • carer about a failure to comply with the Carers Charter as set out in the Carers Recognition Act 2004 (WA).

What sort of things can be included in a complaint about?

Go to the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office's website for examples of the types of complaints accepted.

Do time limits apply to complaints to the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office?

Yes. You must make a health service or disability service complaint within 24 months of the date the service being complained about was provided. In some cases the time limit can be extended if you have a good reason for the delay.

Are there any organisations that can help with my complaint?

The Health Consumers' Council is an independent community based organisation that may be able to assist you with making your complaint to the health service provider. The Council operates:

  • a health information and referral service, and
  • an advocacy service for people with problems with the health system.

Contact the Health Consumers' Council on (08) 9221 3422 or 1800 620 780.  

What if my complaint is about negligence by the health service?

If the complaint involves an allegation of professional negligence you should get legal advice first.

I have a complaint about Medicare. What can I do?

If you have a problem with Medicare you should firstly discuss it directly with the Medicare Complaints Service on 1800 132 468.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint, you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman on 1300 362 072.

I have a complaint about my private health insurer. Where can I go?

If you have a problem with your health insurance arrangements, you should firstly discuss it directly with your health insurer or provider.

If you are unable to resolve your complaint or need advice, contact the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman on 1800 640 695 (freecall).

I have a complaint about my personal health information being revealed without my permission. What can I do?

Generally you should make the complaint directly to the hospital or health service first. Keep records of communication about your complaint.

If the complaint cannot be resolved at that level you can complain to the:

How do I find out how to get access to my own medical records?

  • The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner can assist if you want to know about how to request access to your personal health information. The OAIC website provides fact sheets about the management of and access to your health record. State or Northern Territory public hospitals and health services are not covered by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). Contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 1300 363 992 (freecall).
  • Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA) gives you the right to apply for access to documents held by WA State public sector agencies which includes: government departments, local authorities, statutory authorities and ministers.
  • Contact the Office of the Information Commissioner WA on (08) 9220 7888 or 1800 621 244 (country callers) for information on how to access your records.

What if I have a complaint about accessing my own medical records?

See under the heading above I have a complaint about my personal health information being revealed without my permission. What can I do?

What if I have a complaint about a mental health service?

As a first step you can attempt to resolve the issue directly with the mental health service. If the complaint cannot be resolved at that level you can complain to the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office as outlined above.

See also Mental health.

What if I have a complaint about mishandling of my eHealth record?

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's role includes investigating complaints about the mishandling of health information in an individual’s eHealth record. For more information go to the OAIC website.

Where can I get more information?

  • Contact the Equal Opportunity Commission on (08) 9216 3900 (metro) or (08) 9216 3900 (country - freecall) for information on assistance for individuals who allege unlawful discrimination.
Last reviewed: 29/07/2011
Last modified: 31/03/2015 10:42 AM


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.