Health Services

The ACT Human Rights Commission handles complaints about the provision of health services in the ACT and complaints about access to and integrity of health records in the ACT under the ACT Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997.

The Health Services Commissioner can deal with complaints about all health services provided in the ACT – public and private, services provided a hospital, a general practice and all individual registered practitioners. Complaints about individual practitioners may be dealt in conjunction with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). More information about that process is below.

The Commission generally tries to resolve health related complaints through conciliation with the health service or with the health practitioner. Information about the conciliation process is available in our conciliation FAQ.
A health service may include:

  • A service provided by a registered health practitioner, including doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, radiologists, paramedics, psychologists and others
  • A service provided by a health service organisation, including hospitals, clinics, medical centres, general practice centres, ambulance and others
  • A service provided for carers of people receiving health services

A health record complaint may arise when:

  • A health provider refuses access or transfer of medical records
  • A health provider inappropriately shares health information
  • A health record includes incorrect information or a health provider has incorrectly interpreted the information in a health record

For examples of the types of complaints we have resolved see our Health complaint outcomes page.
You should be able to access your health records at any time under the Health Records (Privacy & Access) Act 1997 or under the Privacy Act 1988 although records remain the property of the health service provider. Fees may apply.
The role of the Health Service Commissioner also includes:

  • supporting improvements in the provision of health services
  • promoting awareness of the rights of users of health services
  • raising awareness of the responsibilities providers of health services.

The Commission generally tries to resolve health related complaints through conciliation with the health service or with the health practitioner. For information about the conciliation process see our conciliation FAQ.

The Health Services Commissioner’s relationship with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

In the ACT the Health Services Commissioner works with AHPRA to handle complaints about the 15 registered health professionals including doctors, nurses, radiologists, physiotherapists.

AHPRA is responsible for the registration and accreditation of fifteen health professions across Australia. The various Health Profession Boards and AHPRA work with the ACT Health Services Commissioner to jointly handle complaints about registered practitioners under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2010 (as modified for the ACT) and the Health Professionals Act 2004.

For more information about AHPRA, please see their website: http://www.ahpra.gov.au

Joint consideration with the health profession boards

Under the Human Rights Commission Act 2005, the Health Services Commissioner must advise AHPRA about complaints we receive about registered health professionals and send all material relevant to that complaint to AHPRA. Likewise, AHPRA must advise the Commissioner of any complaints that it receives and provide the relevant material. The Health Services Commissioner and the relevant National Boards are obliged to jointly discuss complaints and reach agreement as to how matters are to be dealt with. The involvement of AHPRA and the Boards do not indicate an adverse finding – the law requires this information sharing and joint decision making for all relevant matters, not just situations where it is found that a provider acted unreasonably.

Referral to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

In some circumstances such as where immediate regulatory action is required the Commission may decide that a complaint it has received should be handled by AHPRA in the first instance. Where this occurs, the Commission remains involved in the decision making process regarding outcomes for the practitioner, but may not have active management of the matter.