Complaints and improvements - what you need to know

“Every consumer has the right to complain about a provider in any form appropriate to the consumer”.  Right 10 in the Code of Rights (Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994)

The Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003) established the Physiotherapy Board (the Board) as the responsible authority for handling complaints regarding physiotherapists. The Board has worked through a comprehensive review of the systems and processes for complaints. Improvements have been made and we appreciate all feedback on our processes if you have been a party to a complaint.

Some of the improvements include:

  • electronic lodging of a complaint on our website for people to lodge a complaint:
  • a personal phone call from the staff to the practitioner regarding a complaint to explain the process and provide a point of contact
  • use of electronic means of communication where appropriate to speed up the process
  • updates to complainants and physiotherapists on progress of the complaint
  • contracting additional competence reviewers and professional conduct committee members who have all undergone training

Over the past three years the Board has seen an increase in the number of complaints received. 

Complaints and Notification graph

In the last 2 years, approximately 50% of the complaints related to broad competence issues including communication, documentation and treatment concerns; 25% to boundary issues; with fraud (ACC) making up the remainder.

The Board takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, and uses all mechanisms available to conduct thorough investigations. We encourage anyone with concerns to report to us in confidence, for example through our website.

Being the recipient of a complaint is understandably stressful for a health practitioner, however, the Board has a clearly documented complaint procedure which is available on our website which will help physiotherapists understand the process :

Some of the key things to understand are:

  • The Board is required to inform the Health and Disability Commissioners Office of any complaint they receive affecting a health consumer
  • The Board will ensure the principles of natural justice prevail.

To ensure all parties are aware of the standards of behaviour expected of physiotherapists in New Zealand the Board provides the Physiotherapy Standards Framework.

In some areas the Board realised further guidance would be helpful and position statements have been developed.

Additional information is also available on the Board’s website.

The documents refer to a level of competence and nature of conduct that a physiotherapist will be assessed against. All physiotherapists working in New Zealand should be aware of these documents and employers need to ensure new staff members have read them, and know where to access them for future reference.

If you need to call us for more information or a query – please contact us on 04 471 2610.