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AHPRA triaging complaints to improve timeliness

Ruanne Brell, BA LLB (Hons), Senior Legal Adviser, Advocacy, Education and Research, Avant

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

ahpra triaging complaints

AHPRA has announced the national roll-out of a triage system, which aims to improve timeliness with which complaints can be addressed.

The changes are based on input from Avant and others in the profession and follow a review undertaken by AHPRA to identify areas for improvement.

Kym Ayscough, Executive Director, Regulatory Operations announced the change at the Medico Legal Congress on 1 March in Sydney. She noted that this change was the result of the regulator’s efforts to change the way they dealt with complaints to improve timeliness.

Under the new process, complaints will be triaged by a committee including a practitioner and community member. The group reviews the notification and can propose immediate action, or determine that no further action is required. The committees meet weekly and aim to consider a complaint within two weeks of receipt.

The national roll-out follows successful trials in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. AHPRA reports that these trials saw more than a third of complaints being resolved within 20 days, up from around 8% to 37%.

In a recognition of the importance of clinical input in the process, Ms Ayscough also reported that AHPRA increased its full-time equivalent clinical staff to 17 (up from 1.5) to work directly with notification teams and help assess complaints.

Other improvements AHPRA has made include the introduction of an early clinical discussion between a clinical staff member and the practitioner, which has helped to identify early competence issues and need for performance assessment, as well as those that did not need any further referral.

Georgie Haysom, Head of Research, Education and Advocacy, Avant said, “It is pleasing that AHPRA has heard the message about the significant impact a complaint or notification can have on a practitioner, even if it seems quite minor. As Ms Ayscough acknowledged at the Medico-legal Congress, the complaint feels very much like a black cloud for the duration of notification and that this may impact on patient safety for other patients seen during that time.”

“After Avant’s long advocacy on this issue, it is really rewarding to see this change for the profession,” Ms Haysom said.

More information

If you are subject to a complaint, visit our website or call our Medico-legal Advisory Service (MLAS) on 1800 128 268 for expert advice, 24/7 in emergencies.

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