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Management of health complaints in Queensland on the right path

The Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) has seen its strongest year of operational performance yet as highlighted in the office’s 2017–18 annual report published yesterday.

Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown said that in 2017–18 the OHO achieved unprecedented levels of productivity and performance, allowing the office to address backlogs in some critical areas and better meet legislative timeframes.

“This means we are now placed to deliver better service to the people of Queensland, to be more responsive to risk, and most importantly we have improved our ability to protect the health and safety of the Queensland public,” Mr Brown said.

“The financial year saw continuing growth in the number of complaints and enquiries, with a total of 11,569 contacts made to the office—up 13 per cent on 2016–17. Notwithstanding this increase in volume, we saw improvements across all areas of the office.”

Key achievements include:

  • 89 per cent of complaint intake decisions made within the seven day legislative timeframe—up from 74 per cent in 2016–17 and 48 per cent in 2015–16
  • 72 per cent of assessment decisions made within the legislative timeframe—up from 61 per cent and 32 per cent in the previous financial years
  • halving the average age of open assessment matters compared with the previous financial year—with the average assessment age being 18 days as at 30 June 2018
  • completing a greater number of investigations than in any previous year, reducing open investigations by 61 per cent, with only 153 investigations remaining open as at 30 June 2018—down from 394 open at the end of the previous financial year
  • further completing a substantial number of aged investigations, reducing these to just 48 investigations open more than one year—down from 196—and 14 investigations open more than two years—down from 53 at the end of the previous financial year.

“The OHO was originally established to address key deficiencies in the health regulation system as a whole, including inefficiencies and unjustifiable delays,” Mr Brown said.

“Having come into the role of Health Ombudsman partway through the financial year, I have focused on driving operational performance to address these criticisms. The achievements in 2017–18 would not have been possible without the hard work, commitment and dedication of the OHO staff.

“I truly believe that the system will only work if there is a strong and cooperative relationship between the OHO and our coregulatory partner, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and associated boards.

“Staff from both the OHO and AHPRA have worked very hard during 2017–18 to act in a more coordinated way and achieve the best outcomes for the regulatory system at the operational and strategic levels.

“The progress made has also enabled the OHO to clearly define the challenges that lie ahead and develop proactive strategies to manage these.

“In the coming year we will be doing just that, as well as continuing to work with AHPRA and other key stakeholders in the health regulatory system to identify and address emerging issues in the sector.”

The full OHO 2017–18 annual report is now available on the OHO website at www.oho.qld.gov.au.

The official copy of the annual report, as tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, can be accessed from the Queensland Parliament’s tabled papers website database.

—ENDS

Media enquiries:

media@oho.qld.gov.au

0427 483 656