Office of the Health Ombudsman

The Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) receives and investigates complaints related to both registered and unregistered health practitioners. Complaints can be made by anyone, about any health service provider.

Typically within 30 days of receiving a complaint, the OHO will conduct a preliminary assessment of the matter and determine whether further investigation is required. In the event that the OHO decides to take the complaint forward, it may conduct one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Attempt to facilitate local resolution;
  • Attempt to conciliate the complaint;
  • Refer the complaint to the provider’s registration board, or another organisation;
  • Formally investigate the complaint; and
  • Take immediate action against the provider.

Formal Investigation

A formal investigation involves the gathering of information and evidence by the OHO and may include the OHO conducting interviews with relevant parties and/or seeking independent clinical opinion. Investigations are typically concluded within one year. At its conclusion, a report containing information, comments or recommendations may be produced and provided to the parties.

If a report includes recommendations that a health service provider should take certain action(s), the practitioner may be asked to report back to the OHO at a later stage to show that the measures have been implemented. Penalties and a supplementary report may apply in the event of non-compliance.

Immediate Action

Before taking immediate action, the OHO may invite the health practitioner to submit a response within 7 days of being notified. However, if the OHO believes that the health and safety of an individual or the public is at risk, they may take action without first seeking a response.

Additionally, the OHO can take immediate action at any time – whether or not a complaint has been made.

The OHO may take immediate registration action, such as suspending or imposing conditions on a registration, if they have a reasonable belief that a practitioner:

  • poses a serious risk to people;
  • holds a registration that was improperly obtained due to false or misleading information/documentation; or
  • holds a registration that has been cancelled or suspended under the law of a jurisdiction, whether in Australia or elsewhere, that is not covered by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (Qld).

The OHO can also enforce an interim prohibition order which restricts a health practitioner from providing a specific health service, or from providing any health service at all. Again, this is based on the OHO holding a reasonable belief that the conduct of a health practitioner may pose a risk to others.


The OHO will inform the health practitioner of all decisions as well as any relevant national practitioner board. After taking immediate action, the OHO must either begin an investigation, refer the matter to AHPRA or refer the matter to the Director of Proceedings where criminal charges may arise.

How we can help

Formal investigations by the OHO can have serious implications for your career moving forward. Robertson O’Gorman can provide legal assistance throughout the investigative process. We can make oral and written submissions to the OHO where a response is sought after an investigation or where the matter is escalated after immediate action is taken.