"I found the response from the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman to be very threatening"

About: South Australia

(as a volunteer/advocate),

As a health consumer advocate I have had 2 series of contacts with the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman (NHPO). This is the authority to complain to if a person is not satisfied with the action the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The first contact was a couple of years ago; the consumer rang the NHPO on several occasions wanting to talk to someone regarding her concerns with AHPRA. All she got was a recorded message. During early October 2010 she emailed the office with her concern. She received an automatic response informing her staff would be returning on the 1st Nov. When she had not heard by the 15th of November she again emailed. An abrupt response was received, which did not even address her, or have any closing niceties. The email indicated nothing had been done to resolve her complaint. 2 weeks later she received a written response informing her AHPRA had told the Ombudsman they had the right to decide to exclude her, and that was the end of the matter.

So when another person I was assisting needed to lodge a complaint re AHPRA I was cautious. This person’s husband had died as a result of alleged poor care from particular registered health professionals, so I did not want her to go through another process that could add to her grief. I too rang the NHPO on several occasions, receiving a recorded message. Eventually I decided to leave a message with my phone number and waited for the call to be returned, it never was. I then emailed asking when the office would be open so I could ring and speak to someone. The response informed me to fill in the on line complaints form or leave a message on the phone. I emailed back asking when I could speak to someone. The response explained that they worked part time and were very busy and to fill in the on line complaints form. Neither of these emails had the normal courteous opening nor closing greetings.

I then sent back a stronger email explaining I was an advocate and wanted to speak to someone about how a complaint may be handled and that I was appalled with their practice especially when their web site states one of their values is accessibility. I found the response to be very threatening. This time it did have an opening greeting but no closing remark such as yours sincerely, regards ...

Our health system is dependent on good regulation of registered health professionals. How can we have faith in the registration authority if some staff at the authority above them behave so badly.

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