Ryan backs tougher powers to probe health concerns

29 February 2016

Monday 29 February 2015

The powers of Victoria’s health commissioner are set to be increased to provide patients with a better resolution process to complaints.

Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan voted to support the Health Complaints Bill 2016 in Parliament last week, which mirrors legislation introduced by the Coalition in 2014.

“Under the changes passed by the Legislative Assembly this week, the health commissioner will be able to investigate complaints against general health practitioners such as massage therapists, dental technicians and reiki therapists,” Ms Ryan said.

“The commissioner will have the power to publically name health services which have not responded to or implemented the commissioner’s recommendations and will have the power to undertake investigations without relying on a member of the public to raise a complaint.  

“Stronger powers means providers making false claims or quack remedies, such as those running gay conversion programs, can be exposed,” Ms Ryan said.

Ms Ryan said the decision to beef up the powers of the commissioner arose from a review conducted when the Coalition was in government.

"The Coalition introduced an almost identical bill in 2014 in response to a review of the health services commissioner. Unfortunately Labor allowed that legislation to lapse wasting 14 months,” Ms Ryan said.

“The commissioner would have already in place, dealing with these concerns, if Labor had not delayed for more than a year.

“People with complaints should, in the first instance, raise it with their health service. If it cannot be resolved locally, it can be submitted either in writing or verbally to the health complaints commissioner.”

Ms Ryan told Parliament she believed there was not enough transparency around the complaints made about health services.

“Health services should document the number of complaints they receive in their annual or quality of care reports,” Ms Ryan said.

“It should be the role of the health complaints commissioner to provide that information to the public, so Victorians can have confidence in their local health care provider,” Ms Ryan said.

The bill will now be sent to the Legislative Council for its consideration.



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