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Complaints about psychiatrists

What to do if you have concerns about a psychiatrist's behaviour or performance

Psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand must adhere to the highest standards of ethics and performance. Members of the RANZCP must follow the RANZCP's Code of Ethics [PDF; 262 KB]. For more information about psychiatrists' ethical obligations, visit the About psychiatry page.

How to make a complaint

If you are unhappy with the behaviour of a psychiatrist, or the standard of care you or someone else has received, you can make a complaint.

1. The RANZCP recommends that you first complain directly to the psychiatrist.

2. If you feel that you can't approach the psychiatrist directly, or if you are not satisfied with the psychiatrist's response, the next step is:

In Australia (except NSW), make a notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA is the organisation responsible for regulation and accreditation of doctors in Australia. For instructions on how to make a notification, visit the AHPRA website. For assistance, phone AHPRA on 1300 419 495 and ask to speak to a Notifications Officer.

In NSW, lodge a complaint with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). The HCCC acts to protect public health and safety by dealing with complaints about health service providers in NSW. For instructions on how to make a complaint, visit the HCCC website. For assistance, phone the HCCC on 1800 043 159.

In New Zealand, lodge a complaint with the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC). The HDC is responsible for protecting the rights of health consumers in New Zealand. For instructions on how to make a complaint, visit the HDC website.  For assistance, phone the HDC on 0800 11 22 33 and ask to speak to a Complaints Assessor.

 3. If you believe you have been treated unfairly by AHPRA, the NSW HCCC or the HDC:

In Australia, contact the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman.

In New Zealand, contact the Ombudsman.

The RANZCP does not have the authority to investigate complaints it receives about psychiatrists. Instead, we refer any complaints to the relevant organisation (see above). However, if you would like to speak to the RANZCP about your complaint, contact us at ranzcp@ranzcp.org or call us on 1800 337 448 (calling from Australia) or 0800 443 827 (calling from New Zealand).

Checking registration

Like all other health professionals, psychiatrists must be registered to practise. You can check that a psychiatrist is registered:

In Australia at the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency website.

In New Zealand at the Medical Council of New Zealand website.

Other resources

In Australia, AHPRA works with the groups responsible for health complaints in each state and territory. You may need to contact these organisations for particular types of complaints (for example about access to your health information, or the service a psychiatrist has provided).

Australian Capital Territory ACT Human Rights Commission
New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission
Northern Territory Health and Community Services Complaints Commission
Queensland Health Quality and Complaints Commission
South Australia Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner   
Tasmania Health Complaints Commissioner
Victoria Office of The Health Services Commissioner               
Western Australia Health and Disability Services Complaints Office