Public complaints (DHW Annual Report 2019 - 20)

Number of public complaints reported

The information provided below is comprised of all SA Health complaints received, inclusive of LHNs and SAAS. In 2019-20, the number of SA Health complaints reported in the Safety Learning System (SLS) Consumer Feedback module was 6,963. The table below shows the number of complaints received for each category of complaint.

type and number of complaints
Complaint categories Sub-categories Example Number of complaints
Professional behaviour Staff attitude Failure to demonstrate values such as empathy, respect, fairness, courtesy, extra mile; cultural competency 955
Professional behaviour Staff competency Failure to action service request; poorly informed decisions; incorrect or incomplete service provided 109
Professional behaviour Staff knowledge Lack of service specific knowledge; incomplete or out-of-date knowledge 0
Communication Communication quality Inadequate, delayed or absent communication with customer 614
Communication Confidentiality Customer’s confidentiality or privacy not respected; information shared incorrectly
Service delivery Systems/technology System offline; inaccessible to customer; incorrect result/information provided; poor system design 218
Service delivery Access to services Service difficult to find; location poor; facilities/ environment poor standard; not accessible to customers with disabilities 225
Service delivery Process Processing error; incorrect process used; delay in processing application; process not customer responsive
Policy Policy application Incorrect policy interpretation; incorrect policy applied; conflicting policy advice given 0
Policy Policy content Policy content difficult to understand; policy unreasonable or disadvantages customer 0
Service quality Information Information difficult to understand, hard to find or difficult to use; not plain English 14
Service quality Access to information Information difficult to understand, hard to find or difficult to use; not plain English
Service quality Timelines Lack of staff punctuality; excessive waiting times (outside of service standard); timelines not met 1,219
Service quality Safety Maintenance; personal or family safety; duty of care not shown; poor security service/ premises; poor cleanliness 238
Service quality Service responsiveness Service design doesn’t meet customer needs; poor service fit with customer expectations 606
No case to answer No case to answer Third party; customer misunderstanding; redirected to another agency; insufficient information to investigate 0
Coordination of treatment; diagnosis; inadequate treatment; medication 1,739
Billing practices; subsidies; information on costs 283
Administration Services; Lost property 168
Un-coded and not available
Un-coded complaints 325


Notes: Information in this table is sourced from the SLS. SLS classifications are based on the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights and mapped to the South Australian Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC) Charter of Rights. This information has been mapped as closely as possible to report against these categories specified by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

Additional metrics

Complaints additional metrics
Additional metrics Total
Number of positive feedback comments
Number of negative feedback comments 6,963
Total number of all feedback comments 14,295
% complaints resolved within policy timeframes

Data for previous years is available at:

Further information is available in the SA Health Patient Safety Report and SA Health Patient Safety Report for Consumers and the Community which is available on the Safety and Quality website at on the Safety and Quality Reports page.

Service improvements resulting from complaints or consumer suggestions in 2019-20

SA Health encourages patients, consumers, families, carers and community to provide feedback.

Feedback provides an opportunity for health services to observe the quality of health care from the perspective of patients, consumers, families, carers and the community. It also assists in directing improvement in the quality of those services.

Consumers can provide feedback and express their concerns, complaints or compliments in person with the relevant health care service, via telephone, in writing, via the health service website or with the Consumer Advisor. Issues that cannot be resolved at the health care service may be forwarded to the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC).

Many service improvements have been implemented across the LHNs and SAAS in responding to consumer feedback and complaints within this period. Examples include:

  • Reviewing and developing service information for consumers and carers
  • Implementation of patient communication boards
  • Staff, consumers and carers working together to improve patient services and practices
  • Developing specific consumer and carer information sheets e.g. specific information on ambulance costs
  • Educational opportunities to upskill staff
  • New initiatives to convey the importance of receiving consumer feedback
  • Improving communication and engagement methods to encourage consumer participation in their own care
  • Improvements to food, gluten free and vegetarian options have been expanded including coffee machines in an Emergency Department to cater for consumers
  • Practicable improvements to car parking, disabled car parking and/or drop off zones
  • Installation of disability access ramps
  • Improving the tempo of rolling information screens to allow consumers to read and absorb information
  • Signage improvements
  • Upgrade to infrastructure for provision of Wi-Fi to consumers and installation of a charging station for electronic devices
  • Improved garden areas at residential aged care facilities.

The LHN and SAAS Annual Reports can be consulted for any further detail reported specifically for their agency.

Statewide / System-wide level

The SLS Consumer Feedback module records all consumer feedback, including complaints, compliments, advice and suggestions. In 2019-20 significant work was undertaken to review the system. Consultation was undertaken with all health care sites, and enhancements made to the SLS include:

  • Establishing consistent reporting templates across all SA Health facilities
  • Establishing management reports for better tracking of upcoming or overdue feedback
  • Recording where consent is required, and whether it was obtained.

In 2019-20 work continued with the Statewide Consumer Feedback and Complaints Management Program Board (the Program Board) on the development of a statewide Consumer, Carer and Community Feedback and Complaints Management Strategic Framework (the Framework). The Program Board was established with membership from the Health Consumers Alliance SA (HCASA), HCSCC, SA Health, OCP, LHNs, SAAS and consumers.

The Framework outlines the responsibilities for SA Health to strengthen and improve safety and quality improvement through consumer, carer and community feedback and complaints management. It identifies the importance of consumer, carer and community feedback, supports SA Health to meet national, state and legislative responsibilities and demonstrates transparency and accountability to the public.

Feedback on the Framework was received from SA Health staff and a significant number of consumers and carers, including the Mental Health Commissioner, Health Performance Council and Commissioner for Children and Young Persons. The Program Board is in the final stages of the consultation process with implementation of the Framework due in late 2020.