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Health service providers

What happens when the OHO receives a complaint?

When the Office of the Health Ombudsman receives a complaint, we will decide whether to accept the complaint, generally within 7 days.


If we need more information in order to make a decision, we can seek independent expert advice. We may ask the complainant and/or the health service provider for further information or a formal submission, which must then be provided within 14 days, or penalties may apply.

We will keep the provider and the complainant updated throughout this process.

We will consider and analyse all the information we receive, and then make our assessment of the complaint and decide whether or not to take further action. Generally, this should take no more than 30 days.

All information is reviewed thoroughly, impartially and fairly—we don’t take sides.


Assessing a complaint

The Office of the Health Ombudsman is fair, impartial and independent. We are committed to making balanced and well-informed decisions and to providing accurate advice in relation to all health service complaints.

Assessing a complaint is a very important first step in the process. It’s the point where we gather all the information we need from the complainant, the relevant health service provider(s), and any necessary expert advice, to help us make the right decision.

Once we receive a complaint, we will assess it thoroughly. Our assessment must be completed within 30 days, although this may be extended for an additional 30 days for complex matters or in cases where it takes longer to get the necessary information.

How is a complaint assessed?

To assess a complaint, it’s important we get all the information we can. We’ll collect and analyse information provided by you, the health service provider you are complaining about, and any relevant independent experts, in order to decide how to best manage your complaint.

We may ask you and/or the health service provider for further information or a formal submission, which must then be provided within 14 days, or penalties may apply.

The provider and complainant will be kept up-to-date throughout this process.

All information is reviewed thoroughly, impartially and fairly—we don’t take sides.

Making a decision

After assessing a complaint in detail, we will decide whether to take it forward and how best to do so. Generally, this will be within 30 days of starting assessment. We will inform the complainant and health service provider of our decision and what will happen next.

If we do take a complaint forward, we may do any, or a combination, of the following:

If we decide we can’t take a complaint any further, we will explain the reasons why and any options that may be available. We will also keep the complaint on record to help us identify any patterns of provider conduct or practice, or systemic healthcare issues.