State govt urged to make changes to complaints laws
A NSW parliamentary committee has urged the state government to change laws so that complaints about health care professionals can be made “more generally” and not just “about the clinical management or care of an individual patient”.
The committee on the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) said it made the recommendation based on “correspondence” by the state's Health Care Complaints Commissioner Kieran Pehm.
In a letter to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, committee chair Nationals MP Leslie Williams said the committee “endorses the [HCCC’s] suggested amendment which would remove the requirement that complaints must be about the clinical management or care of an individual client”.
“The effect of the amendment would be to allow complaints to be made about health organisations more generally, without the need for direct clinical management to be proven,” Ms Williams wrote, adding “this matter should be given the highest priority”.
Comment was being sought from Ms Skinner but the NSW government was understood to be considering the recommendation.
Dr Brian Morton, chair of the AMA’s Council for General Practice, said the existing complaints based system worked and any increase in scrutiny of health professionals should be considered carefully. He said if the government adopted the regulation it should not apply to doctors.
“Doctors are exposed to so much regulation that really wouldn’t be accepted by the general community,” he said.
“If they look at [the proposal] then it needs to be specifically excluding doctors, because we’re already covered under other legislation.
“If they broaden it without excluding doctors…we’ll just be more exposed. If Jillian Skinner wants to change the legislation it should be specifically for non-registered medical practitioners.”
AHPRA would not comment on the HCCC recommendation or whether it would be used to inform national policy but a spokesperson said the authority had an “ongoing focus on consistency in decision making”.