Feedback and Complaints Policy

1. Purpose

Sydney North Health Network (SNHN) is committed to continuous improvement as part of its values and recognises the importance of feedback – positive and / or negative – and complaints received from consumers, families, clinicians and the community.

This policy sets out the principles that guide the organisation’s response to the external feedback we may receive in the form of suggestions, compliments and complaints.

2. Scope

The policy applies to the management of all feedback—suggestions, compliments and complaints—received concerning the operations of the SNHN and our employees. This also includes the SNHN Board, contractors and subcontractors.

The Internal Conflict Management Policy and Procedure applies to all employees of SNHN and is the mechanism to create a positive workplace environment and to address employees’ concerns, issues or grievances.

3. Policy Statement

This policy has been developed to provide effective and fair, organisation-wide guidance for the receipt, capture and response to feedback and complaints regarding SNHN operations.
This policy aims to:

  1. Ensure an accessible mechanism for feedback or complaints is available to consumers families, clinicians and the community and includes a process for receipt.
  2. Ensuring fair, unbiased reporting of complaints and no negative consequences occur for complainants resulting from making a complaint.
  3. Ensure a copy of SNHN Feedback and Complaints Policy is available on the SNHN website or be provided through e-mail or postal mail if requested.
  4. Address complaints, where possible, at the first point of contact
  5. Collect sufficient information to allow for assessment and assigning priority to the complaint by a person or team that specialises in the complaint topic.
  6. Ensure parties providing feedback or complaints are dealt with in an effective, professional, fair and consistent manner.
  7. Enable the SNHN to have a standard approach to the management of feedback and complaints.
  8. Assist employees to understand and be aware of their responsibilities about feedback and complaints and be empowered to manage feedback and complaints in a consistent, systematic and responsive manner.
  9. Ensure social equity for the complainant, enabling access to any relevant supports if these are required by the complainant in the process of making their complaint, such as interpreters or disability supports or similar.
  10. Link the SNHN feedback and complaints management process to the quality improvement program.

The policy is based on the principles of:

  1. Fairness – ensuring all parties are provided equal opportunity and treated with respect.
  2. Effectiveness – enabling the feedback or complaint to be resolved to mutual satisfaction of both parties.
  3. People focus – the complainant may be actively involved in the complaints process as far as practicable and appropriate in the circumstances.
  4. Accessibility – the policy and procedures are easily accessible by all.
  5. Responsiveness – complaints will be addressed and managed in a timely manner.
  6. Privacy – the SNHN adheres to the privacy laws and maintains an ethical approach when managing a complaint; and
  7. Efficiency – ensuring a transparent process is always used.

4. How feedback – suggestions and compliments, and complaints – will be used by SNHN

Feedback – Suggestions and Compliments

Suggestions and compliments are encouraged from consumers, families, clinicians and the community. All feedback will be acknowledged by SNHN within 2 business days of its receipt. Feedback will be dealt with as appropriate to its content, context and implications. Feedback will be used constructively as part of the SNHN commitment to continuous quality improvement. The Governance Manager will maintain a record of suggestions, compliments or comments, and provide a report to the Board, in accordance with the appropriate procedure developed. All suggestions will be provided to the appropriate Board committee for consideration and in accordance with relevant policies.


Complaints from consumers, families, clinicians and the community provide unique information about the quality of the services from an external perspective. The management of a complaint provides the opportunity for complainants to have their issues resolved effectively, ensures that any identified risks are managed appropriately, and that action is taken to minimise or eliminate those risks. This will be done in accordance with the appropriate procedure developed. All complaints will be acknowledged by SNHN within 2 business days of its receipt.

Feedback and complaints data in the SNHN may be used to:

  1. Improve the safety and quality of service provision.
  2. Support and maintain good relations with the community.
  3. Evaluate the quality of programs and services.
  4. Inform decision making about future service delivery; and
  5. Enhance the ‘learning’ experiences of the organisation.

5. How Feedback and Complaints can be made

Consumers, families, clinicians and the community may make a complaint via any of the following mechanisms:

  1. On-line: through the SNHN website feedback and complaints or contact us page.
  2. A face-to-face meeting.
  3. In writing to Sydney North Health Network, PO Box 1083, Chatswood 2067.
  4. Telephone: reception (02) 9432 8250 or a direct call to an employee.

6. Responsibilities

Effective feedback and complaint management requires a whole-of-organisation approach with clear points of accountability for reporting, investigation and feedback, as follows:

The Board, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Team and Managers are responsible for:

  1. Encouraging an environment where complaints are taken seriously and managed effectively and thoroughly.
  2. Ensuring an effective feedback and complaint management system is in place for SNHN Board, employees, consumers and stakeholders.
  3. Implementing policies and procedures to support employees, including training on feedback and complaint management processes.
  4. Ensuring appropriate resources are available and used for effective feedback and complaint management.
  5. Reporting to the SNHN Board or relevant Governance Committee where necessary.
  6. Nominating an Executive Team member to be responsible for:
    – Monitoring and risk rating of all complaints.
    – Ensuring appropriate lessons are learnt and actions are implemented to eliminate or minimize similar issues from occurring.
    – Reporting on trended complaint data.
    – Ensuring all employees are trained appropriately.

SNHN Employees are responsible for:

  1. Adhering to the principles, process and procedures that support this policy.
  2. Handling feedback and complaints in a professional and timely manner, whilst at all time respecting confidentiality and privacy to the extent practicable and appropriate.
  3. Not discussing complaints except with individuals required to be informed.
  4. Committing to resolving complaints at the lowest level to reduce the potential for escalation of concerns.
  5. Raising the complaint with the relevant responsible parties.
  6. Seeking assistance where a complaint is unable to be addressed by them; and
  7. Treating complaints with respect and not ever dismissing a complaint as frivolous.
  8. All employees have a responsibility to be familiar with, and have an understanding of the appropriate Policy and Procedure; and
  9. How to receive and give feedback and understand how to process a complaint

7. References


  • SNHN Privacy Policy
  • SNHN Feedback and Complaints Procedure
  • SNHN Complaint/Feedback Form
  • SNHN Incidents Register
  • SNHN Feedback and Complaints Register
  • SNHN Internal Conflict Management Policy and Procedure


  • The Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992

8. Definitions

  • Executive Team. Includes CEO, COO, CFO and General Managers.

8. Approvals & Review