Concerns/Complaints about mental health treatment or services in NSW

What can I do if I have a concern or question about mental health treatment or service?

Talk to the person concerned

If you have questions or concerns or a complaint about the mental health care or treatment you or a relative or friend is receiving, it is a good idea to first try to discuss your concerns directly with the health worker, case manager, doctor or hospital to see whether they can work with you to resolve your concerns. You could ask for a meeting to talk about your concerns, you could phone or you could write a letter.

Who else could help?

Most services can give you information about how to make a complaint or express a concern and who is the appropriate person to contact.

If you are in hospital you can talk with the Nurse Unit Manager, or request to meet with the Director of the Unit or the Medical Superintendent. Some hospitals have Patient Representatives or Consumer Advocates.

If you are receiving services from a community mental health team you could ask to speak with or meet with the Team Leader or Manager.

Tips on how to resolve your concern directly with your provider can be downloaded from the Health Care Complaints Commission website  http://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/Information/Information-For-Health-Consumers/Resolving-Concerns-about-your-Health-Care/default.aspx

For information on complaints about mental health care go to http://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/Information/Information-For-Health-Consumers/Complaints-about-mental-health-care/default.aspx

Contact the Inquiry Service of the Health Care Complaints Commission

Anyone can contact the Commission - a consumer, a friend, a family member or a health worker.

The Inquiry Officer can talk with you about your concerns and how you might address them at the local level or can provide advice about how to lodge a formal complaint. This call can be anonymous.

 Inquiry Service

Phone:             (02) 9219 7444
Toll free:          1800 043159
Email               hccc@hccc.nsw.gov.au

 I am being treated against my will - who can I talk with?

If you are receiving treatment under the law called the NSW Mental Health Act, i.e. you are detained in a hospital mental health unit or you are receiving services as part of a community treatment order and you have a complaint or a question about your treatment or care you can:  

 Contact the Official Visitors Program.

Official Visitors are appointed by the NSW Minister for Health to visit people in mental health inpatient facilities in NSW and are also available to assist consumers on community treatment orders. www.ovmh.nsw.gov.au or phone: 1800 208218

 Contact the Mental Health Advocacy Service.

The service is part of Legal Aid NSW and provides free legal advice and assistance about mental health law.

http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/asp/index.asp?pgid=594 or phone: 02 9745 4277

What is the Health Care Complaints Commission?

The HCCC is an independent body which receives and assesses complaints about health services and health care providers in NSW under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993. Health care providers can either be registered, like doctors and nurses; or un-registered, like acupuncturists, naturopaths, psychotherapists and others. The Commission also deals with complaints about hospitals.

Can the Commission help me if I am being treated under the Mental Health Act?

The Health Care Complaints Commission does not have any power to become involved in legal decisions made under the mental health act, and so cannot deal with a complaint that is about being treated involuntarily 

However a person who is being treated under the mental health act can still contact the Commission to discuss concerns or complaints about other aspects of care and treatment. 

Are you concerned about alternative health care?

On 1 August 2008, a Code of Conduct for so called "unregistered health practitioners" came into force. The Code sets out the minimum standards people can expect from these health providers, and should be displayed to people who intend to use the services.

The HCCC has powers to deal with complains about any unregistered health practitioner that has breached the Code of Conduct, including issuing a public warning or prohibiting them from practicing.

How do I make a complaint to the Commission?

For the Commission to take action, the complaint must be lodged in writing.  A written complaint can be made by sending a letter, or contacting the Commission for a complaint form or sending an email or fax. The Commission can assist you to write your complaint. 

The Commission uses interpreting services to assist people whose first language is not English.

For further information, please visit the Commission's website www.hccc.nsw.gov.au or call 9219744 or toll free on 1800 043 159. 

You can also download a complaint form from the website http://www.hccc.nsw.gov.au/Complaints/Online-Complaint-Form/Default/default.aspx

Reporting adverse events about medication

You can report a problem with therapeutic products with the Federal Department of Health and Ageing's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).  The TGA are the national regulatory body for medicines which go on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

For further information please visit: http://tga.gov.au/index.htm


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