- Cancer Information
- Legal, work and financial issues
- Cancer care and your rights
- Health care complaints
- Making a formal health care complaint
Making a formal health care complaint
To make a formal complaint, you need to contact your state or territory health complaints organisation. It can be helpful to check if there are any time limits or other conditions you have to meet. Complaints should be in writing and can often be made by filling in an online form.
If you are unable to make the complaint yourself, then a relative, friend, guardian or health professional may be able to lodge the complaint on your behalf.
In most cases, you will be assigned a case officer, who may provide a copy of the complaint to the health care provider and ask them to give their version of events. Your case officer may also obtain your medical records or other relevant information from the health care provider, with your consent.
Once the case officer has completed their assessment, the relevant state or territory ombudsman or commissioner will write to tell you how they will deal with your complaint. They may decide to refer it to mediation or conciliation, which is when the parties meet to try to agree to a resolution. Public health and safety issues are referred elsewhere within the ombudsman or commission’s office for formal investigation.
Serious cases against a health practitioner may result in prosecution, and some cases can be referred to a registration board or another organisation – learn more about the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and registration boards.
Toni Ashmore, Cancer and Ambulatory Services, Canberra Health Services, ACT; Baker McKenzie, Pro Bono Legal Adviser, NSW; Marion Bamblett, Acting Nurse Unit Manager, Cancer Centre, South Metropolitan Health Service, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; David Briggs, Consumer; Naomi Catchpole, Social Worker, Metro South Health, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Tarishi Desai, Legal Research Officer, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; Kathryn Dwan, Manager, Policy and Research, Health Care Consumers Association, ACT; Hayley Jones, Manager, Treatment and Supportive Care, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; Victoria Lear, Cancer Care Coordinator, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Deb Roffe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Michelle Smerdon, National Pro Bono Manager, Cancer Council NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment