More complain to commissioner

The number of people complaining to the health and disability commissioner about medical issues had increased considerably over the last four years.

The HDC had received fewer than 10 complaints about the Taranaki District Health Board in the past financial year, but was unable to provide figures for complaints about other health or disability service providers in the region.

The deputy health and disability commissioner - complaints resolution Theo Baker was not sure why complaint numbers had risen.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that there has been a deterioration in the quality of care that has been provided, it just means that people are complaining more."

Ms Baker was in Taranaki yesterday to make a presentation to the DHB about having a centre of care culture within hospitals, the DHB and practices that ensured there was engagement with patients.

It wasn't just about providing clinical care, but it was about providing the best possible outcome because the consumer was engaged with their care, Ms Baker said.

Her visit coincided with the DHBs launch of its patient and family/whanau-centred care framework, which was about having services that were people-centred and accessible.

Ms Baker said about half of the complaints the HDC received were around medical treatment.

And while people complained for a number of reasons, about 50 per cent of those who made complaints did so because they did not want the same circumstances to happen to anyone else.

Last year 60 cases were closed after a formal investigation and this year the number of cases will be closer to 100.

"And in some of those we will direct the provider to the Director of Proceedings to decide if there will be legal action such as a disciplinary proceeding."

But in most cases, after getting a response from the health provider on the care provided, the commissioner would decide further action wasn't necessary or required.

"But we will provide an explanation about what has happened and why and often that is quite helpful." If the problem was deemed a fitness to practise issue, it would be referred to the registration authority, such as the medical council.

Taranaki Daily News