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NDIS complaints soar as clients wait up to nine months for plan reviews

The NSW Ombudsman has released a new report that reveals increasing number of complaints to NDIS

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released a report into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which reveals people with disabilities are waiting up to nine months for reviews into their NDIS plans.

The findings have prompted 20 recommendations for the agency overseeing NDIS. Complaints about the reviews process accounting to around 32 per cent of all complaints.

The agency admitted to Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe in February that it had more than 8,000 reviews on hand and were receiving around 620 new review requests each week.

“The NDIS has acknowledged some reviews are taking up to nine months to be completed,” the ombudsman said in the report, released on Tuesday.

The ombudsman’s office received 400 complaints between July 2016 and January 2018 to address these reviews. A new national team set up in November 2017 to address the backlog has not been able to quickly work through the wait list.

“Complaints to our office also highlights our systematic issues such as poor communication about review process and outcomes,” the ombudsman said.

“It is clear from this report there are a number of areas in which the NDIS agency can and should improve its administration of participant-initiated reviews.”

Those who complained said when they requested a review they didn’t receive an acknowledgement, so they were unsure whether it was going to happen. Others said when they tried to get an update on their review, calls were not returned.

The ombudsman wants the NDIS agency to set up standard operating procedures so staff acknowledges review requests in a set time frame.

“Without significant efforts to improve the timeliness of its approach and its communication with participants, there remains a risk that participants rights to review will be challenged and the review process will continue to be unwieldy, unapproachable and the driver of complaint volumes,” Manthorpe said.

The scheme’s agency has accepted all the recommendations and the ombudsman will monitor how it implements them over coming months.

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