Complaints management within South Metropolitan Health Service

A male and female patient in conversation with a female doctor and another female health professional.

South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) is committed to Getting it right the first time – providing patients, consumers and their carers with an opportunity to provide feedback and contribute to improvements in the healthcare system. Read how you can share your feedback about your experiences at Fiona Stanley, Fremantle, Rockingham General or Murray District hosiptals.

The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (external site) were introduced in January 2013 to improve the quality of care provided by health service organisations. Standard 1 requires that information collected from patient feedback systems is used to measure and improve health services.

SMHS sites and services manage feedback, including complaints, in line with Operational Directive OD 0589/15 WA Health Complaints Management Policy (external site). This policy states:

“The complaint management process …is not intended to apportion blame but strives to resolve the complaint, if possible, and identify any aspects of service delivery which require change in order to effect improvement where possible.”

Defining compliments and complaints

Compliments are expressions of satisfaction. A complaint is considered an expression of dissatisfaction.

Compliments and complaints can be lodged by, or on behalf of, an individual consumer/carer regarding any aspect of care or service provided. A formal complaint can be lodged in writing or verbally.

Measuring complaints management

The complaints management process is measured through the requirement to resolve all complaints within 30 working days.

Benchmark rates

Health services are required to demonstrate commitment to complaint resolution by adhering to a resolution period of less than 30 working days.

The 30-working day complaints resolution period rate is calculated by the number of formal responses provided within 30 working days, divided by the number of formal complaints receipted by the organisation within a specified time period, multiplied by 100 to give a percentage.

See how we measure up

The graph below shows percentage compliance with resolution of complaints within 30 working days across SMHS.

Figure 1: Percentage of complaints resolved within 30 working days by SMHS hospital for each financial quarter (Oct-Dec 2016 to Oct-Dec 2018)

Percentage of complaints resolved within 30 working days by SMHS hospitals for each financial quarter (Oct-Dec 2016 to Jan-Mar 2018): Although the overall SMHS rate has remained below the 100 per cent benchmark, it has shown an improvement since the Jul-Sep 2017 reporting period to be within 7 percent of the benchmark with a rate of 93 per cent.

What do these figures show?
  • Although the overall SMHS rate has remained below the 100 per cent benchmark, it has remained at or above 84 per cent since Oct-Dec 2016 with a spike of 96 per cent in Jan-Mar 2017. Following which there was a sustained improvement between Jul-Sep 2017 and Jul-Sep 2018 reporting periods to be within 5 percent of the benchmark at a rate of 95 per cent, however Oct-Dec 2018 data revealed a drop to 89 per cent.