John's story

John made a complaint to the Ombudsman about the handling of his notifications by Ahpra, the Medical Board and the Nursing and Midwifery Board

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John made a complaint to the Ombudsman about the handling of his notifications by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's (Ahpra), the Medical Board of Australia and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. The notifications were about the hospital staff involved in his father’s health care.

John believed Ahpra and the Boards did not manage his notifications correctly. He was concerned there were conflicts of interest involving Board members and staff from the hospital where his father had been treated and that he had been prevented from providing relevant information to the Boards about the notification.

Our investigation found the information John had provided to Ahpra and the Boards was handled appropriately and in line with legislative requirements and relevant policies. Our investigation also found no evidence of a conflict of interest involving the Board members and staff at the hospital but noted Ahpra had agreed to consider this issue further if John provided the names of those involved who he believed had a conflict of interest.

However, we concluded Ahpra’s communication with John during the notifications process was not sufficient. We found John did not receive any communication from Ahpra before receiving letters informing him the Boards had decided to take no further action. John had made repeated calls to Ahpra to request an update about his notifications and was advised that once a regulatory officer was assigned, they would contact him. However, John did not speak with Ahpra before the Boards’ decisions were made. Ahpra submitted that it attempted to contact John, but these attempts were not recorded because of disruptions associated with transitioning to working from home due to COVID-19.

While we acknowledged John received an apology from Ahpra’s national complaints team about the lack of communication, we provided feedback to Ahpra that it was disappointing John was not contacted and that the attempts to contact John were not documented as required. We acknowledged Ahpra’s explanation about the transition to working from home due to COVID-19. However, there were many instances of Ahpra failing to respond to John’s contact before the beginning of the pandemic. We also reiterated our expectation that Ahpra acknowledges receipt of a new notification in every instance.

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