Lawrence Springborg
Lawrence Springborg David Stuart

Qld's health complaint review process taking 'too long'

THE state's health complaints investigator has been slammed for its blow-out investigation times only weeks after the Health Minister announced a major restructure of the way health complaints are investigated in Queensland.

The Health Quality and Complaints Commission has undergone a review from its oversight body, the Parliamentary Health and Community Services Committee, and a report was tabled in Parliament on Friday.

The committee found concerns with how long the HQCC was taking to resolve a complaint once it was lodged.

According to the review tabled in Parliament, HQCC received 3244 complaints about health services in 2011-2012 - an increase of 28% on the previous year.

But of that, only 39 complaints progressed to the investigation stage.

The HQCC also saw a boost in the number of its investigators, but despite that, the length of time it took to close an investigation increased.

"The committee remains concerned about the length of time taken to complete investigations," the report states.

"The increased period for completion of investigations in 2011-12 is of significant concern to the committee."

In the same year, the HQCC reduced its target for conciliating complaints from 75% of cases closed within 12 months in 2010-11 to 60% in 2011-12.

The revealing report comes after Health Minister Lawrence Springborg announced this month a major shake-up of the way health complaints will be handled.

It followed the release of an independent report which found the current process was dysfunctional and untimely.
One case took six and a half years to resolve.

Mr Springborg told Parliament that new legislation to create a Queensland Health Ombudsman as the lynchpin of a new and accountable complaints reporting system would be introduced before July.

The Ombudsman will prioritise complaints and decide which authority investigates them.

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