Ahpra releases new complaints checklist

Wednesday, 08 November, 2023

Ahpra releases new complaints checklist

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has released a new checklist to help registered health practitioners better address complaints from patients and clients.

The checklist is the result of a joint project between the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), Ahpra and the 15 national boards that regulate registered health practitioners.

“Respectfully listening to patients and their carers’ concerns, together with taking corrective action as soon as possible, not only improves the quality of services provided but creates a positive culture to support the relationships which are important to ongoing care. This checklist will be helpful for clinicians wanting to improve their complaints handling,” Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care CEO Conjoint Professor Anne Duggan said.

Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said complaints about an individual practitioner’s communication totalled 12.6% of all the types of concerns received by the regulator in 2022/23.

The types of concerns relating to communication include practitioners:

  • not responding to contact from patients
  • being rude and dismissive of patients’ concerns
  • not adequately communicating treatment plans, and
  • not openly communicating or being transparent about errors in their practice.

“We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and may be stressful for practitioners,” Fletcher said.

“The checklist provides guidance, so practitioners are more equipped to deal with feedback and complaints that are made directly to them by patients or clients. We hope it will help practitioners better resolve some of these concerns when they are first raised.”

A Consumer Health Complaints Reference Group was formed to provide advice on the project. Input was also sought from consumers, health complaints bodies, professional organisations and indemnity insurers in the development of the checklist.

“It’s important that health practitioners feel supported in dealing with patient concerns and complaints as issues can often be resolved at this point,” said Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny.

“Of course, there will always be a need for some patients to make formal complaints to an independent body and CHF will continue to work with Ahpra to make that process as easy and accessible as possible,” Deveny said.

The checklist is a resource to support practice and does not impose any additional obligations on practitioners. National boards’ expectations about what to do when a practitioner receives a complaint from a patient or client are outlined in their respective codes of conduct or ethics.

Image credit: iStockphoto.com/Nuthawut Somsuk

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