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Annual Report outlines a busy year for HDC

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill said there had been a record number of complaints closed by his office in the last year.

"This has been a busy and successful year for the HDC. We have closed more complaints than ever before - almost 2,400," Anthony Hill said.

"The resolution of each of these individual complaints helps the people involved to understand and learn from what happened and reduces the likelihood of the same thing happening to someone else. Learning from complaints goes beyond those directly involved and each complaint is part of making a wider, positive impact on New Zealand’s health and disability sector."

HDC is the independent watchdog for the New Zealand health and disability sectors, resolving complaints about services and promoting and protecting the rights of people using those services.

As well as resolving complaints and holding health providers to account, HDC uses the findings from complaints to influence quality improvement in the health and disability sector. It released reports looking at data trends across complaints and made recommendations for change or educational comments in response to almost 450 complaints. Providers are held responsible for making these changes, with 99% compliance with HDC recommendations.

Anthony Hill said informed consent continued to be raised as an issue in complaints to HDC, as did communication.

"Informed consent lay at the heart of the Cartwright Inquiry. While much has changed for the better in the 25 years since, the fact it continues to be raised as an issue in 15% of complaints is a reminder of the need to stay vigilant in upholding people’s rights.

"Communication appeared as an issue in 54% of complaints to HDC this year, which highlights the importance of clear and compassionate communication with people and their whānau."

Looking across complaints, Anthony Hill noted issues he continued to be concerned about, including the delayed diagnosis of cancer in primary care, failure to effectively prioritise patients, not adhering to guidelines for referring pregnant women to specialists, and inadequate fetal heart rate monitoring and interpretation.

Anthony Hill also noted the significant focus during the year on mental health and addiction services, especially with the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Both he and Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan have been focused on ensuring a strong and long lasting transformation in New Zealand’s approach to mental health, addiction and wellbeing.

The full annual report is available on the HDC website.

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