A key priority of the NSW public health system is its focus on patient-centred care. Feedback from consumers, their families and carers about their health care experiences is encouraged and is a valuable resource for monitoring and improving patient safety. Analysing data on patient experiences improves the ability of health care organisations to detect system-wide problems in care.

Encouraging staff to work together with patients and families when providing care improves communication, and results in a better experience of care. The CEC's Person Centred Care program was established to work with Local Health Districts (LHDs) and Specialty Health Networks (SHNs) to help include patients and family as care team members, improve consumer engagement and promote safety and quality in health care.

During the July – December 2020 reporting period, complaints were entered into both IIMS and ims+ while the transition to ims+ was ongoing. Complaints management within ims+ has been broadened to enable the notification of complaints, compliments and observations/suggestions provided by patients and carers.

Due to the differences that exist between the IIMS and ims+ applications with regards to the classification of complaints and their resolution, complaints data presented in this report are combined to provide a high-level analysis only.

The number of consumer complaints between July – December 2020 has increased by 14 per cent compared with the preceding six-month period. The number of clinical incidents per occasions of service decreased during July – December 2020, while the number of complaints per occasions of service has increased. Complaint volume in the current reporting period (July – December 2020) is within normal variation and at similar volumes to previous years. The previous period (January – June 2020) had far fewer complaints reported which is likely associated with reduced activity across the health care system due to COVID-19. (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Notification of clinical incidents and complaints by NSW separations, January 2017 – December 2020

Figure 9

During the July – December 2020 reporting period, NSW Health services continued their transition across to the new ims+ application. Complaints notified in ims+ are not given a Harm Score rating, and as a result data relating to this period appear in the total only (Table 15).

Table 15: Complaints by SAC rating, January 2017 – December 2020

Complaint SAC Rating 2017 2018 2019 2020
Jan-Jun Jul-Dec Jan-Jun Jul-Dec Jan-Jun Jul-Dec* Jan-JunJul-Dec**
SAC 1 5 13 5 2 2 3 7 -
SAC 2 49 64 64 60 48 41 41 -
SAC 3 1,676 1,874 1,995 1,967 2,492 2,065 1,343 -
SAC 4 5,375 5,517 6,063 5,943 6,431 5,989 4,214 -
No SAC allocated 85 120 84 97 123 57 36 -
Total 7,190 7,588 8,211 8,069 9,096 8,494 7,4918,548

Caveats: Data obtained from IIMS and ims+. Excludes St Vincent's Health Network
* ims+ complaints data included in totals only. Excludes compliments and observations/suggestions received
** IIMS/ims+ complaints data included in totals only. Excludes compliments and observations/suggestions received.