How to Make a Complaint

Talk to your pharmacist first

Many problems can be avoided by making sure you have plenty of information regarding your medicines.  We recommend that you talk to your pharmacist about your medicines and any  concerns you have at the time the medicine is dispensed.

How to make a complaint

If, after you have talked with your pharmacist, or you do not feel able to and you want to make a formal complaint about the service you have received, then you should contact the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC).

HDC is an independent agency set up to promote and protect the rights of consumers who use health and disability services. HDC will decide whether your complaint will be investigated and whether your rights under the Code of Consumers’ Rights have been breached. HDC may subsequently refer the matter to the Council which will consider whether further action is required in relation to a pharmacist’s competence or conduct.

To understand you rights and options see: Alternatively, you can contact the HDC via National Freephone 0800 11 22 33, email

The Pharmacy Council is also able to receive written complaints about pharmacists, but if the complaint relates to health service affecting a consumer, it must be referred to HDC.To lodge a complaint or raise concerns with the Pharmacy Council, please click here to complete an online form.

What happens next?
HDC will make preliminary enquiries into the complaint and may start a formal investigation and will communicate with you directly. The HDC assesses whether the pharmacist or pharmacy may have been a breached rights under the Code of Rights and will inform Council if an investigation is started, and provide information about the complaint. Alternatively, the HDC may refer the complaint to the Council, recommend advocacy, or conclude its enquiries without referring the complaint further.

If the HDC refers the complaint back to Council, HDC will advise you of this. Council will consider whether the complaint raises concerns about the pharmacist’s competence, conduct or health, and usually liaise directly with HDC, unless the matter is referred to a Professional Conduct Committee; see Communication of outcome below.

Complaint unrelated to health services
If your complaint does not relate to health service but raises questions about the pharmacist’s conduct (e.g. inappropriate or alleged illegal activity), we may refer it to a Professional Conduct Committee for investigation.

Concerns about the health of a pharmacist

Pharmacists, like all members of society, can become ill, have accidents or become addicted to substances.  However, a mentally or physically unwell pharmacist may not be able to practise safely.  Under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, a registered pharmacist is required to be ‘fit to practise’. Conditions that may affect a pharmacist’s ability to practise could include:

  • alcohol or drug dependence.
  • mental health issues.
  • stress related impairment.
  • declining competence due to loss of motor skills, or the early stages of dementia.
  • other illnesses and injuries.

As a member of the public you may notify the Council in writing of your concerns, but it is often useful to talk to another pharmacist about these before you make a formal notification.  Once notified, the Council will take action to ensure public safety is protected.

Communication of outcome
We will contact you promptly after receiving your complaint to give you an indication of the likely pathway and the timeframe for the complaint.

Whilst many complaints can be resolved promptly, a few may require formal investigation by a Professional Conduct Committee. If the complaint is referred to a Professional Conduct Committee the Committee will actively engage with you as the complainant.

If you notify us about your concerns about the pharmacist’s health or fitness to practise, we will inform you of any formal action taken to ensure the safety of the pharmacist’s practice (e.g. placing conditions or suspending registration).