Poor communication, inadequate care and a failure to prescribe medication were among the reoccurring issues raised in complaints against Tasmanian health organisations in 2019-20.
The state's Health Complaints Commissioner Annual Report showed a 27 per cent increase in inquiries, along with an increase in the number of cases opened and closed for the year ending June 30, 2020.
Release Thursday, the report noted an increase of 8.6 per cent for the number of new cases opened in 2019-20 (982) compared to 2018-19 (904).
There was also a 2.5 per cent increase in the number of cases closed in 2019-20 (997), compared to the previous year (972).
As highlighted in previous reports, Tasmanian Ombudsman Richard Connock said the main source of complaints came from prisoners in the Tasmanian Prison Service and those related to Correctional Primary Health Services.
"In 2019-20 there was an 11 per cent increase in the number of complaints about CPHS to 150 mainly focusing on the failure to prescribe medication and prisoner access to health services," he said.
"Interestingly, complaints regarding public hospitals decreased by 29 per cent [from 61 to 43] along with a reduction in complaints about medical clinics and medical practitioners."
Summary of health complaint cases 2019/20:
- 27 per cent increase in inquiries
- 982 cases opened in 2019-20 = 8.6 per cent increase compared to last year (904)
- 997 cases closed = 2.5 per cent increase from previous year (972)
- 73 per cent cases closed within three months
- 82 per cent cases assessed within 45 days
- 65 per cent cases closed finalised by quick resolution
- 13 cases resolved in conciliation
Mr Connock said staff reductions within the HCC, including two conciliators over the past six years, had resulted in unsustainable practices that undermined the purpose of the Health Complaints Act - to provide an alternative avenue of redress to highly regulated, time consuming and expensive civil court proceedings.
"It was intended that the office would develop procedures that emphasise conciliation rather than court-based litigation, which is becoming increasingly expensive and does not identify, address or attempt to remedy the underlying causes of concerns about health services," he said.
"Inadequate resourcing undermines these intentions and the role of the commissioner because health service users are not always able to have their complaints and concerns dealt with and resolved in a timely and appropriate manner."
Mr Connock also reported that the time taken to finalise complaints was dealt with efficiently with 82 per cent of cases being finalised within the allocated 45-day timeframe stipulated by the act.
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