Whanganui District Health Board is putting an emphasis on how it handles complaints as a driving factor behind its lowest ever rate of complaints made to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Figures released this week show WDHB had only two complaints in six months from July to December 2018, which was the lowest in the country alongside Taranaki DHB which also had two complaints.

It works out to be around 28 complaints for every 100,000 patients discharged.

Nationally, Commissioner Anthony Hill received 444 complaints across 20 DHBs with an average of 89 complaints per 100,000 discharges.


WDHB chief executive Russell Simpson said the findings for Whanganui were very positive.

"It is important to acknowledge the efforts of our staff and our proactive approach to complaints management," he said.

One of Whanganui's complaints was regarding a lack of access to mental health services and the other involved inadequate follow-up after surgery, however, both complaints were resolved.

The findings show nationally numbers of complaints to the Commissioner jumped up 40 per cent over the last five years, but Hill said there was no evidence to suggest the increase was due to a drop in service quality at DHBs.

"The growth in complaint numbers is likely due to the increasing profile of the Health and Disability Commissioner, the improved accessibility of complaints processes due to advancing technology, and an increasing public knowledge of consumer rights."

Hill said the figures were consistent with a trend seen by other complaint agencies in New Zealand and abroad.