This report shows that a national approach to the different ways Australian state and territory health entities handle complaints data would respond better to patients’ concerns and assist policy development.
Health complaint statistics are important for identifying problems and bringing about improvements to health care provided by health service providers and to the wider health care system. This paper, authored by Merrilyn Walton, Jennifer Smith-Merry, Judith Healy and Fiona McDonald, overviews complaints handling by the eight Australian state and territory health complaint entities, based on an analysis of data from their annual reports. The analysis shows considerable variation between jurisdictions in the ways complaint data are defined, collected and recorded. Complaints from the public are an important accountability mechanism and open a window on service quality. The lack of a national approach leads to fragmentation of complaint data and a lost opportunity to use national data to assist policy development and identify the main areas causing consumers to complain. We need a national approach to complaints data collection in order to better respond to patients’ concerns.
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