This procedure sets out the Practice’s approach to the handling of patient complaints.
Definition of a complaint
- The definition of a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about an act, omission, or decision, either verbal or written, and whether justified or not, which requires a response.
How to make a complaint
Every patient has the right to make a complaint about any aspect of the provision of services they have received at Hurley & Riverside Practices. Complaints raised will not affect the patient’s ongoing treatment from the surgery or appear in their medical record.
Wherever possible we hope to resolve complaints at a local level.
Complaints can be made verbally or in writing. Patients are asked to speak to a member of the practice team or alternatively ask for, or address complaints to, the Complaints Manager, Tracy Crossfield – Practice Manager.
Additionally, complaints can be submitted:
- Via email to firstname.lastname@example.org – please include the word ‘Complaint’ in the subject line.
- Completing a patient complaint form which will be available in the reception area or completing the ‘contact us’ form
- A third party can make a complaint on behalf of a patient in any case where that person:
- Is a child (an individual who has not attained the age of 18
- 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 accommodated
- Has died.
- Has physical or mental incapacity
- Has given consent for a third party to act on their behalf.
- Has delegated authority to act on their behalf, for example in the form of a Registered Power of Attorney which must cover health affairs.
- Is an MP, acting on behalf of and by instruction from a constituent.
Patients are encouraged not to complain via an eConsult as these requests are routinely saved into the patient record. However, if a complaint is received via this route, it will be passed on to the complaints manager who will acknowledge receipt and follow the complaints procedure. The information in the eConsult that doesn’t relate to the complaint will be entered into the patient’s medical record manually instead of filing the eConsult itself.
How to get help making a complaint
If a patient would like external help to raise a formal complaint, the following organisations may be able to help.
- POhWER - a charity that helps people to be involved in decisions being made about their care
- Advocacy People - gives advocacy support
- Age UK - may have advocates in the area
- Local Councils can offer support in helping the complainant to find an advocacy service.
- Local Healthwatch can help to find an independent NHS complaints advocacy service in the area.
We encourage patients to use our patient complaints procedure but if, for any reason, a patient does not want to speak to a member of the practice team, they can request that NHS England investigates the complaint. NHS England will then contact us on the patient’s behalf
How the complaint will be dealt with and by whom
It is always better to try and deal with the complaint at the earliest opportunity and often it can be concluded at that point.
If the patient is satisfied that their complaint has been resolved and they do not wish to take the process forward this will be documented in writing with a copy provided to the patient and the decision will be logged in the practice complaints log.
Where a verbal complaint is received a written record of the complaint will be made and a copy provided to the patient.
The complaints manager will acknowledge receipt of all patient complaints within three working days and offer the patient a discussion either in the form of a meeting or call to discuss what will happen next including who will be undertaking the investigation and how long it is likely to take.
If the patient does not want to participate in a discussion, information about the expected response date will be sent to them in writing. The complaint will be logged in the practice’s complaints log.
The practice will investigate the complaint in a manner appropriate to resolve it speedily and efficiently. The length of time to conclude the investigation will vary dependent upon the circumstances. If the response time exceeds the time set out initially the practice will ensure that the patient is updated about progress and time scales and an explanation for the delay will be provided. A full investigation will take place with written notes and a log of the progress being made.
It may be that outside sources will need to be contacted and if that is the case then a patient consent form will need to be signed to make such a request.
Time frames that are relevant for complaints
Patients should raise their complaint as soon as possible, but ideally within twelve months of the incident or, within twelve months of discovering that a problem has occurred.
The practice will investigate the complaint in a manner appropriate to resolve it speedily and efficiently and send a written response as soon as reasonably possible. The length of time to conclude the investigation will vary dependent upon the circumstances.
If the response time exceeds the time set out in the initial discussion or written communication the practice will ensure that the patient is updated about progress and time scales and an explanation for the delay will be provided.
The practice aims to provide a full response in a timely manner, but consider candour and accuracy a priority, so the time frame will be determined by the complexity of the concerns raised and access to those involved: for instance, the impact of staff absences or the need to contact a third party not directly employed by the practice, may result in the investigation taking longer.
The practice will keep patients updated on the progress of their complaint at least every 4-6 weeks.
There is discretion to extend the time limits for initiating the complaints process 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 it is important that consideration is given to the fact 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 reasons for declining a time limit extension.
The final response a patient can expect.
The final response 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, a full explanation, apology, and confirmation about what will be done to put these right or prevent repetition.
- A focus on fair and proportionate 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 sent later.
- A statement of the right to escalate the complaint, together with the relevant contact details.
Further actions if a patient is not satisfied with the outcome.
The practice’s final response will advise that, if a patient is not satisfied, with the response or that of NHS England (if this route was chosen to raise the complaint) they can escalate the complaint to the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). Further information is available on their website
The Care Quality Commission is always interested in both issues and outcomes. Details can be forwarded to them however, the patient must be aware that the CQC will not be involved in the resolution process. Further information is available on their website
Confidentiality during the Complaints Procedure
All complaints will 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 patient’s consent will be required.
The practice will keep a record of all complaints and copies of all correspondence relating to complaints. These records will be kept separate from the patients’ medical records.
Annual Complaints Report
Information about the complaints received by Hurley & Riverside practices over the past year will be compiled into an Annual Report.This report will be made available to any person who requests it and may form part of the Freedom of Information Act Publication Scheme.
This will include:
- Statistics on the number of complaints received.
- Upheld/Not upheld.
- Known referrals to the Ombudsman.
- Subject matter / categorisation
- Learning points
- Any changes to procedure, policies or care which have resulted.
Services delivered by Hurley & Riverside Practices are carried out with due diligence and in accordance with current guidelines. However, it is acknowledged that sometimes things can go wrong.
This procedure reflects the requirements set out in the ‘common approach’ to the handling of complaints across health and adult social care. Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations (2009)
The Practice will take reasonable steps to ensure that patients are aware of this procedure:
By having an effective complaints process in place, the Practice can investigate and resolve complaints in a timely manner, achieving the desired outcome for service users whilst also identifying lessons learned and ultimately improving service delivery.
A written summary of this procedure will be available in the reception area.
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