Updated 27 May 2019

Policy statement

The Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) is committed to managing service delivery complaints in a way that is accountable, fair and timely.

Scope and application

This policy and its associated procedure apply to all OHO permanent and temporary employees as well as contractors, employment agency staff, work experience students and volunteers (who are defined as workers in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011) while working in the workplace. A service delivery complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction raised about any aspect of service provided by the OHO or the conduct of an officer, subject to the exclusions detailed below.

Exclusions

  • Where someone responds adversely when provided with information that they do not agree with (i.e. a response of dissatisfaction that is immediate, of a venting nature, and/or non-specific); these communications may not amount to a service delivery complaint. Examples include verbal outbursts or derogatory exclamations such as ‘you’re wrong’ or ‘you’re useless’ directed towards a staff member by a complaint party.
  • Where a complainant disputes the outcome of a decision made under the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 (e.g. an assessment or investigation decision) and the criteria for an internal review of the decision applies.
  • Complaints that may amount to public interest disclosures under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010.
  • Complaints where there is a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct under the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (refer Requirements for Reporting Corrupt Conduct Policy).
  • Right to Information requests and Information Privacy complaints.
  • Internal staff complaints about an area of the OHO or a particular officer (refer Internal Complaints Procedure).

Principles

The following principles will govern the OHO’s management of service delivery complaints:

Accessibility

  • Any person with sufficient direct interest in a matter can make a complaint under this policy, including a person who has been authorised by a party with direct interest in a matter.
  • Information regarding where and how to lodge a service delivery complaint and how they will be managed is available on the OHO’s website.
  • Reasonable assistance to lodge a complaint will be provided to any persons upon request, including persons with any disability or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • Anonymous complaints, while not encouraged, are accepted.
  • There is no cost to lodge a service delivery complaint.

Reasonableness

  • Service delivery complaints management will be objective, fair, respectful, consistent, in accordance with the principles of natural justice and without actual or perceived conflicting interests.
  • Service delivery complaints will be assessed to determine how they should be dealt with, and by whom.
  • Complaints assessed as unsuitable for handling by the OHO will be referred to an appropriate external agency with the complainant’s consent.
  • All complaints will be considered on their merits - the substance of a complaint dictates the level of resources dedicated to it, not a complainant’s demands or behaviour (refer Unreasonable Complainant Conduct policy and procedure).
  • Complainant expectations will be managed by ensuring the complainant is aware of the process, timeframes, their likely involvement, the possible outcomes of the complaint and any other necessary information.

Responsiveness

  • Complaints will be acknowledged and responded to in a timely manner.
  • Complainants will be updated at appropriate intervals about their complaint’s progress.
  • Complaint outcomes, systemic improvements and actions requiring attention following the consideration of a complaint will be communicated to relevant divisions or employees within the OHO in a timely manner.
  • Complaint trends and systemic issues will be provided to the OHO Executive Leadership Group on at regular intervals, and used to inform continuous improvement initiatives.

How to complain

Where possible, OHO employees will attempt to resolve a service delivery complaint informally at first point of contact (e.g. on the phone).

Where informal resolution is unsuccessful, a formal service delivery complaint can be lodged in writing, either:

  • via email to the relevant business area, or to info@oho.qld.gov.au with “Service delivery complaint” included in the subject line
  • via letter to PO Box 13281 George Street Brisbane Qld 4003
  • via facsimilie to (07) 3319 6350.

A service delivery complaint should include:

  • name, address, email and telephone number
  • previous case reference number (if applicable)
  • a concise summary of the nature of complaint (e.g. why/how the service provided was deficient)
  • name/s of officers involved
  • the desired outcome.

Anonymous complaints are accepted however, it can be more difficult to investigate a complaint without all the relevant information.

Service delivery complaints must be made no later than three months after the day the complainant became aware of the action being complained about. If more than three months have passed since the action resulting in the complaint, the complaint may not be accepted unless the delay was the result of exceptional circumstances (e.g. the complaint’s long-term significant ill-health, natural disaster impacting the complainant).

Complaint management model

The way in which a complaint should be managed will depend on both how it is classified and how it was received.

Anonymous complaints should be assessed against the same criteria as any other complaints. When assessing complaints, particular considerations include the nature and seriousness of the complaint, the quantity and quality of information and capability of productive review or outcome.

The complaint will be assessed to determine whether it is straightforward or complex, and will follow the below approach:

Service delivery complaint management model


Where a person is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint or how the complaint was handled, they are entitled to seek an internal review by an appropriate OHO officer. A request for an internal review should be made within three months of the communication of the decision.

If a complainant remains dissatisfied after an internal review, they can request an external review from the Office of the Queensland Ombudsman.

Reporting

Within its annual report each year, the OHO will report the number of service delivery complaints received, the number of complaints where action was taken, and the number that resulted in no further action. Publishing this information is required by section 219A of the Public Service Act 2008.

The Director, Office of the Health Ombudsman, will report to the Executive Leadership Committee on a six monthly basis regarding any trends in service delivery complaints. The Service Delivery Register will be used to identify improvements in the way the OHO deals with complaints covered by this policy.

Related documents and resources


Definitions

Service delivery complaint: An expression of dissatisfaction (either written or verbal) about the actions of an OHO employee or employees in the course of carrying out the OHO’s functions.

Exceptional circumstances: Refers to situations which are out of the ordinary, unusual, special or uncommon (e.g. ill-health and /or personal issues impacting on the complainant’s ability to address the concerns).

Policy

Effective date: 27 May 2019

Next review: 27 May 2021

Custodian: Executive Services

Contacts: Executive Advisor, Office of the Health Ombudsman

Approved by: Andrew Brown, Health Ombudsman

Approval date: 26 May 2019

Download this policy PDF (247KB)