Cosmetic treatment complaints

This section includes details about:

An introduction to cosmetic treatment complaints

What can be complained about

How to make a complaint and links to an online complaint form

What information is required when lodging a complaint

Who can make a complaint

Time restrictions

Information regarding alternative agencies who may deal with cosmetic treatment complaints

Introduction to cosmetic treatment complaints

As an independent complaint resolution body, HaDSCO receives complaints regarding health and disability service providers. This service is governed by the Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995 (the Act), which outlines the types of complaints HaDSCO may process.

Frequently HaDSCO receives calls from consumers with complaints regarding cosmetic treatment or surgery. Due to the nature of such complaints, cosmetic treatment may or may not be classed as a ‘health service’ and fit within HaDSCO’s jurisdiction. Whether HaDSCO may process a complaint on cosmetic treatment or surgery depends on whether the service received can be defines as a ‘health service’ under the Act.

It is important that individuals understand whether or not the service they received can be classed as a health service before raising a complaint to HaDSCO. This section provides the relevant information with regards to cosmetic treatment complaints and links to alternative complaint organisations that may be able to assist.

What complaints can HaDSCO accept?

Under the Act, HaDSCO can accept complaints that relate to health or disability services. In certain circumstances, cosmetic treatment may fall within the definition of a health service.

To constitute a health service, the cosmetic treatment must be a service provided in relation to the diagnosis or treatment of a physical or mental disorder or suspected disorder. Based on this definition, a complaint may fall within HaDSCO’s jurisdiction if the cosmetic treatment or surgery was undertaken for a medical reason. For example, if breast augmentation is required to correct a malformation of breast tissue, disease or trauma of the breast.

HaDSCO may not process a complaint if the treatment:

  • was obtained predominantly for the improvement of the appearance of the user
  • did not affect the functioning of the body
  • did not correct a bodily dysfunction.

HaDSCO could not accept a complaint for example, if a breast augmentation was undertaken purely for cosmetic purposes. In these cases, HaDSCO will refer the complainant to an alternative and more suitable organisation such as the Department of Commerce or Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

How to make a complaint

In order to raise a complaint, first read the information on this page. Information supplied here outlines who/what can be complained about and when. Once familiarised with this information, either:

Those wishing to raise a complaint must provide HaDSCO with sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the treatment was required for medical reasons. Sufficient evidence should include at least one of the following:

  • Original referral letter from the user’s GP to the relevant provider (eg. plastic surgeon) setting out the history of the user and the health reasons for seeking the treatment
  • Report or opinion from the provider who performed the treatment being complained about confirming that the treatment was provided to correct or improve the functioning of the body
  • Copies of receipts or other documentation from Medicare confirming item numbers and rebate status of the particular treatment being complained about. Medicare does not have item numbers for purely cosmetic treatments.

Completing a complaint form

Complaints must be lodged in writing. It is recommended, where possible to utilise the HaDSCO complaints form as it provides an easy to follow structure.

Download a complaint form (PDF)

Complete a form online

It is important to note that work cannot begin on a complaint unless all information and signed authorisation statements are supplied to HaDSCO.

Complaint forms are designed to provide support in lodging a complaint. Each section requires specific information that is important to the resolution of the complaint. Please ensure forms lodged to HaDSCO are completed in full. This will ensure the HaDSCO Assessment Team is equipped with all the information required.

For help completing the form, contact HaDSCO.

HaDSCO, by law, is required to consult with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency (AHPRA) when complaints relate to a registered health professional. This will determine which agency is the most appropriate to deal with the complaint. Further information is available within the Memorandum of Understanding between AHPRA and Health Complaint Entities (PDF) (including HaDSCO).

This MoU document outlines:

  • The statutory roles and the relationship between HaDSCO and AHPRA
  • Sections 149 and 150 of National Law
  • Agreed procedures

Preparing a written complaint

If a complaint form cannot be completed, please submit a complaint in writing. Ensure the following information is provided.

  • The name and date of birth of the person who received the service and contact details
  • The name, date of birth and contact details of the person making the complaint if different from above
  • If relevant the relationship between the person who received the service and the person who is lodging the complaint (the person lodging the complaint cannot be paid to make the complaint)
  • The name and contact details of the person or organisation who provided the service
  • The date the service was provided
  • Details of any attempt that has already been made to try and resolve the complaint
  • Details of the complaint
  • The desired outcomes and what is hoped to be achieved by making the complaint

Ensure any complaint submitted to HaDSCO includes the following two authorisation statements. These statements must be signed and dated.

Authorisation to refer. ‘I authorise the Director of the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office to send a copy of my complaint to the health or disability service provider and/or any other relevant body.’

Signature: _______________________________________ Date:               /           /

Authorisation to access information. ‘I authorise the Director of the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office to access information relating to this complaint.’

Signature: _______________________________________ Date:                /          /

Who can make a complaint

A complaint can be made by:

  • The person who received the service
  • A relative, representative or carer
  • A representative of a person who has died
  • A provider, on behalf of the person who received the service from another provider
  • A carer, about a failure to comply with the Carers Charter as set out in the Carers Recognition Act 2004

Complaints can also be made by carers when a provider has failed to comply with the Carers Charter. Read more about the Carers Recognition Act (external site) and making a complaint as a carer.

Time limitations

Health service complaints must be made within 24 months of the date the service being complained about was provided. Some discretion exists if there is a good reason for the delay.

HaDSCO is generally unable to assist with complaints that have already been determined by a court, registration board or tribunal.

Who else might deal with cosmetic treatment complaints?

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

AHPRA
GPO Box 9958
Perth WA 6001

Ph: 1300 419 495
Web: www.ahpra.gov.au

Department of Commerce, Consumer Protection (DoC)

Locked Bag 14
CLOISTERS SQUARE WA 6850

Ph:1300 30 40 54
Web: www.commerce.wa.gov.au

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