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Health service providers

Taking immediate action

The Health Ombudsman is able to take immediate action against health practitioners in Queensland. The decision to take immediate action is based on the Health Ombudsman’s guiding principle—the health and safety of the public are paramount.


There are two types of immediate action—immediate registration action or the issuing of an interim prohibition order.

Immediate registration action

Immediate registration action can suspend or impose conditions on the registration of a registered health practitioner. The Health Ombudsman can take immediate registration
action if:

  • the Health Ombudsman forms a reasonable belief that a practitioner’s health, conduct or performance means they pose a serious risk to people, and immediate action is necessary to protect public health and safety
  • the Health Ombudsman forms a reasonable belief that a practitioner’s registration was improperly obtained due to false or misleading information or documentation provided to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
  • the practitioner’s registration has been cancelled or suspended under the law of a jurisdiction, whether in Australia or elsewhere, that is not covered by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009.

The Health Ombudsman can take immediate registration action at any time, whether or not a complaint has been made about a practitioner.

Interim prohibition order

An interim prohibition order can prohibit or restrict a health practitioner from providing any health service, or a specific health service. This applies to all unregistered health practitioners, or to registered health practitioners providing a health service outside their capacity as a registered practitioner. The Health Ombudsman can issue an interim prohibition order if a practitioner’s health, conduct or performance means they pose a serious risk to people, and immediate action is necessary to protect public health and safety. This could be due to a health practitioner:

  • practising unsafely, incompetently or while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • financially exploiting a person
  • engaging in a sexual or improper personal relationship with a person
  • discouraging someone from seeking clinically accepted care or treatment
  • making false or misleading claims about the health benefits of a particular health service
  • making false or misleading claims about their qualifications, training, competence or professional affiliations.

The Health Ombudsman can issue an interim prohibition order at any time, whether or not a complaint has been made about a practitioner. The Health Ombudsman can also enforce an interim prohibition order issued in another state or territory where that interim prohibition order corresponds (or substantially corresponds) to the type of interim prohibition order that can be made in Queensland.


 The immediate action process

Before taking immediate action, the Health Ombudsman may notify the health practitioner and invite them to submit a response to the proposed action within seven days. The Health Ombudsman then decides whether to take the immediate action.

The Health Ombudsman can take immediate action without first seeking a practitioner’s response if the Health Ombudsman reasonably believes the health and safety of an individual or the public is at risk. The practitioner will be notified of the immediate action and will then be invited to submit a response within seven days. The Health Ombudsman will consider the response before deciding how to proceed with the immediate action process.

The Health Ombudsman will inform the health practitioner of all decisions and provide advice on what they can do next, such as applying to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to review the decision. The relevant national health practitioner board will also be notified of any action taken against registered health practitioners. If the immediate action was in response to a complaint, the complainant will also be informed of the decision and notice will be given to the health practitioner’s employer.

After taking immediate action, the Health Ombudsman must either:

  • start an investigation into the matter
  • refer the matter to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or another entity
  • refer the matter to the Director of Proceedings.