Office of the Health Ombudsman, Queensland

Published in December 2016 was the report of Parliamentary Inquiry into the performance of the Queensland Health Ombudsman.

55 submissions are said to have largely focussed on the actual time taken for the assessment and investigation of complaints as well as the timeframes allowed for health service providers to respond or provide information to the OHO

Minter Ellison has produced a useful summary which concludes:

The Committee concluded that it would be premature to fundamentally change the health complaints system. Instead, it determined that further investigation is required to determine the underlying reasons for the issues addressed by the inquiry. As an initial step to improve the performance of the system, the Committee made recommendations to the Queensland Government to consider:

 amending the Act to introduce a joint consideration process between the OHO, AHPRA and the National Boards, including to examine the benefits of having a single assessment stage for complaints, the appropriateness of existing statutory timeframes and how clinical input can be utilised;

 the options for ensuring that serious professional misconduct, which may also involve a practitioner’s health or performance, be dealt with as a whole; and

 the introduction of a number of amendments suggested by the OHO which focus on correcting some deficiencies in the existing legislation, providing clarity to timeframes and legislative requirements, allowing for flexibility in dealing with issues at the local resolution and conciliation stage and facilitating better information sharing.

The Committee also suggested that the OHO, AHPRA and the National Boards develop a plan that identifies the information needs of all parties and the barriers that prevent the production of nationally-consistent data about health service complaints.

With thanks to Associate Professor Tina Cockburn for noting this information.

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