Territory Stories

Annual Report 2012/2013 Health and Community Services Complaints Commission



Annual Report 2012/2013 Health and Community Services Complaints Commission

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Tabled paper 579


Tabled papers for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT






Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.




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37. Assessment Resolved During Assessment Geoffrey had been wearing dentures for many years. When he broke the two front teeth on his denture, he took it to the dentist for repair. The denture was repaired but not long after, the teeth fell out again. Geoffrey took his denture back to the dentist again. It was repaired and he wasnt charged for the work. Soon afterwards, one of the teeth broke off again. This time, the dentist said he would charge Geoffrey for the cost of fixing the denture. Geoffrey decided he would not go ahead with the repair, and complained to the HCSCC. While the complaint was still being assessed, the parties resolved the complaint between themselves. The dentist apologised to Geoffrey and the consultation fee was refunded. No Further Action Complaint Resolved Phil, recently moved to a remote community, complained that he had the flu and that he had been very unwell and running a high temperature. Phil said he had asthma and often suffered an attack when he was ill with the flu. He said he tried to see a doctor at the local health centre, only to be told that the clinic closed at 11 am that day and he would not be seen until the following Monday. When he moved to the community, Phil expected that the health clinic would operate in the same way as urban GP clinics in his hometown. During the assessment of the complaint it was found that a sign was placed on the front door of the clinic and a voice recording on the phone directed any clients needing medical assistance to Health Direct. Because he was new to the Territory however, Phil did not know what Health Direct was. The complaint was considered resolved when changes were put in place to make sure patients were clear about how to seek further help if required when the clinic was closed. A standardised voice mail message is now used at all health centres, so that when staff are away from the clinic messages can be left about non-urgent matters. For urgent matters, callers are advised to call the medical officer on call and provided with a phone number. Callers are also told to ring 000 in case of emergency. Signage was also developed advising clients when staff are expected to return and providing the relevant phone numbers to contact if the matter is urgent. Complaint More Than Two Years Old Morry asked a legal service to represent him in a complaint to the HCSCC. Six years earlier, Morrys mother had died three weeks after coming home from hospital. Morry thought that his mother should not have been discharged from hospital and that staff in the hospital did not provide the high level of care she needed. Complaints to the HCSCC must usually be made within two years of the person becoming aware of the circumstances of the complaint. If the complaint is outside that timeframe, the Commissioner will consider whether to accept the complaint, weighing up a number of factors including whether a delay lodging a complaint unfairly prejudices the respondent, any reason for delay and whether there are public interest considerations. In Morrys case, the Commissioner decided that there were insufficient grounds for accepting the complaint outside the two year time frame.

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