Public complaints (DHW Annual Report 2018 - 19)

Number of public complaints reported

The information provided below is comprised of all SA Health complaints received, inclusive of Local Health Networks and SA Ambulance Service (SAAS). In 2018-19, the number of SA Health complaints reported in the Safety Learning System (SLS) Consumer feedback module was 7,051. The table below shows the number of complaints received for each category of complaint.

type and number of complaints
Complaint categories Sub-categories Example Number of complaints
Professional behaviour Staff attitude Failure to demonstrate values such as empathy, respect, fairness, courtesy, extra mile; cultural competency 946
Professional behaviour Staff competency Failure to action service request; poorly informed decisions; incorrect or incomplete service provided 77
Professional behaviour Staff knowledge Lack of service specific knowledge; incomplete or out-of-date knowledge *
Communication Confidentiality Customer’s confidentiality or privacy not respected; information shared incorrectly 154
Communication Communication quality Inadequate, delayed or absent communication with customer 951
Service delivery Systems/technology System offline; inaccessible to customer; incorrect result/information provided; poor system design   
Service delivery Process Processing error; incorrect process used; delay in processing application; process not customer responsive  
Service quality Information Incorrect, incomplete, out dated or inadequate information; not fit for purpose  
Service delivery Access to services Service difficult to find; location poor; facilities/ environment poor standard; not accessible to customers with disabilities 185
Policy Policy application Incorrect policy interpretation; incorrect policy applied; conflicting policy advice given *
Policy Policy content Policy content difficult to understand; policy unreasonable or disadvantages customer *
Service quality Access to information Information difficult to understand, hard to find or difficult to use; not plain English 12
Service quality Timelines Lack of staff punctuality; excessive waiting times (outside of service standard); timelines not met 1,424
Service quality Safety Maintenance; personal or family safety; duty of care not shown; poor security service/ premises; poor cleanliness 208
Service quality Service responsiveness Service design doesn’t meet customer needs; poor service fit with customer expectations 659
No case to answer No case to answer Third party; customer misunderstanding; redirected to another agency; insufficient information to investigate *
Treatment   Coordination of treatment; diagnosis; inadequate treatment; medication 1,851
Costs   Billing practices; subsidies; information on costs 375
Administration   Administration Services; Lost property 209
Total     7,051

*Information in this table is sourced from the SLS. It has been mapped as closely as possible to report against the categories that have been newly introduced for 2018-19 reporting, noting that breakdowns are not available retrospectively for all categories. SLS classifications are based on the original Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights released in 2008, in addition to being mapped to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC) Charter of Rights.

Complaints additional metrics
Additional metics Total
Total number of feedback comments 7,051
% complaints resolved within policy frameworks 91.2%

Data for previous years is available at DataSA

Further information is available in the SA Health Patient Safety Report and SA Health Patient Safety Report for Consumers and the Community which is available on the Safety and Quality website - Safety and Quality Reports page.

Service improvements for period

A Statewide Consumer Feedback and Complaints Management Program Board (Program Board) was set up for 2019-20 to develop a Strategic Framework to oversee the state coordination and aspects of monitoring a whole of health strategy, supporting consistency across SA Health, with regard to consumer feedback and complaints management and how outcomes are linked to quality improvement.

The appointment of the Program Board on behalf of the Chief Executive is to also address the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Oakden A Shameful Chapter in South Australia’s HistoryRecommendation 11 to review the role of Consumer Advisers to determine that their duties and responsibilities are appropriate, they are trained to assess the significance of complaints made, are required to report such complaints to particular persons and committees and that consumer advisers are independent of facilities.

Many service improvements have been implemented across the Local Health Networks and SA Ambulance Service from consumer feedback and complaints within this period, with some highlights noted below. The LHN and SAAS Annual Reports can be consulted for any further detail reported specifically for their agency.

  • Updating information sheets for consumer information
  • Staff, consumers and carers working together to improve patient services and practices
  • Improving waiting area and hospital entrance environments
  • Educational opportunities to upskill staff
  • Car park improvements for consumer access after hours
  • Identifying issues in the provision of interpreter services
  • New initiatives to convey the importance of receiving consumer feedback
  • Improving communication and engagement methods to encourage consumer participation in their own care.

Service improvements that responded to customer complaints or feedback

SA Health encourages patients, consumer families, carers and community to provide feedback.

Feedback provides an opportunity for health services to observe the quality of health care from the perspective of patients, consumers, families, carers and the community. It also assists in directing improvement in the quality of those services.

Consumers can provide feedback and express their concerns, complaints or compliments in person with the relevant health care service, via telephone, in writing, via the health service website or with the Consumer or Patient Adviser. Issues that cannot be resolved at the health care service may be forwarded to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC).

The SA Health ‘Your feedback is important – consumer feedback process and contacts for health sites’ provides consumers and the community with a step-by-step process for providing feedback and also provides a list of contacts at individual sites. The information sheet is available on the Health and Community Services feedback and complaints page on the SA Health website.

A consumer feedback dashboard ‘Quality Information and Performance Hub (QIP HUB)’ was implemented in 2018. The QIP HUB displays safety and quality key performance indicators (KPIs) on clinical, performance and support data. The QIP HUB provides key (de-identified) information to clinical staff in a format which assists in analysing and interpreting the data.

The consumer feedback dashboard also displays statewide, local health networks and hospital locations, reporting on:

  • Number and type of consumer feedback – complaints, compliments, suggestions and advice received
  • Method of feedback received – telephone, feedback form, email, letter, in person etc.
  • Outcome – complaint resolved, concern noted, explanation provided and apology
  • Alignment to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC) Charter of Rights.