This procedure sets out the Practice’s approach to the handling of complaints.
Receiving of complaints
Complaints should be addressed in the first instance to Gill Hulf, Patient Services Manager.
The Practice may receive a complaint made by, or (with his/her consent) on behalf of a patient, or former patient, who is receiving or has received treatment at the Practice, or:
- Where the patient is a child;
- by either parent, or in the absence of both parents, the guardian or other adult who has care of the child;
- by a person duly authorised by a local authority to whose care the child has been committed under the provisions of the Children Act 1989;
- by a person duly authorised by a voluntary organisation by which the child is being accommodate.
- where the patient is incapable of making a complaint, by a relative or other adult who has an interest in his/her welfare.
All complaints, written and verbal will be recorded, and written complaints will be acknowledged in writing within 3 working days of receipt.
Patients are encouraged to complain in writing where possible.
The reply to the patient will outline a proposed timeframe for response. The timeframe will be dependent on a number of factors including access to other people that may be involved in the complaint and the complexity of the complaint.
Period within which complaints can be made
The period for making a complaint is normally:
- 12 months from the date on which the event which is the subject of the complaint occurred; or
- 12 months from the date on which the event which is the subject of the complaint comes to the complainant's notice.
Complaints should normally be resolved within 6 months. The practice standard will be 15 working days for a response.
The Complaints Manager or lead GP has the discretion to extend the time limits if the complainant has good reason for not making the complaint sooner, or where it is still possible to properly investigate the complaint despite extended delay.
When considering an extension to the time limit the Complaints Manager or the GP takes into consideration that the passage of time may prevent an accurate recollection of events by the clinician concerned or by the person bringing the complaint. The collection of evidence, Clinical Guidelines or other resources relating to the time when the complaint event arose may also be difficult to establish or obtain. These factors may be considered as suitable reason for declining a time limit extension.
Where a complainant becomes aggressive or, despite effective complaint handling, unreasonable in their promotion of the complaint, some or all of the following formal provisions will apply and will be communicated to the patient:
- The complaint will be managed by one named individual at senior level who will be the only contact for the patient;
- Contact will be limited to one method only (e.g. in writing);
- Place a time limit on each contact;
- The number of contacts in a time period will be restricted;
- A witness will be present for all contact;
- Repeated complaints about the same issue will be refuse;
- Only acknowledge correspondence regarding a closed matter, not respond to in;
- Set behaviour standard;
- Return irrelevant documentation;
- Keep detailed records.
This will include:
- A clear statement of the issues, investigations and the findings, giving clear evidence-based reasons for decisions if appropriate;
- Where errors have occurred, explain these fully and state what will be done to put these right, or prevent repetition;
- A focus on fair and proportionate the outcomes for the patient, including any remedial action or compensation;
- A clear statement that the response is the final one, or that further action or reports will be send late;
- An apology or explanation as appropriate;
- Confirmation that the practice believes it has reached the end of the local resolution process;
- A statement of the right to escalate the complaint, together with the relevant contact detail.
All complaints must be treated in the strictest confidence.
Where the investigation of the complaint requires consideration of the patient's medical records, the Complaints Manager must inform the patient or person acting on his/her behalf if the investigation will involve disclosure of information contained in those records to a person other than the Practice or an employee of the Practice.
The practice must keep a record of all complaints and copies of all correspondence relating to complaints, but such records must be kept separate from patients' medical records.
Patient Complaint Form