COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

Introduction

The purpose of this document is to ensure all staff at Newton Medical Centre understand that all patients have a right to have their complaints acknowledged and investigated properly. This organisation takes complaints seriously and ensures that they are investigated in an unbiased, transparent, non-judgemental and timely manner.

Policy

The Practice will take reasonable steps to ensure that patients are aware of:

  • the complaints procedure
  • the role of the NW London ICB and other bodies in complaints about services under the contract. This includes the ability of the patient to complain directly to the CCG and to escalate to the Ombudsman
  • their right to assistance with any complaint from independent advocacy services

The responsible person and the Complaints Manager is the Practice Manager who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the complaints regulations and making sure action is taken because of the complaint. The lead GP Partner for complaints handling is the Senior Partner.

PROCEDURE


Receiving of complaints

The Practice may receive a complaint made by, or (with consent) on behalf of a patient, or former patient, who is receiving or has received treatment at the Practice, or: (a) 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 accommodated

(b) 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 will be encouraged to complain in writing.

Period within which complaints can be made

The period for making a complaint is normally: (a) 12 months from the date on which the event which is the subject of the complaint occurred; or (b) 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. If the complaints manager believes an issue can be resolved quickly then this organisation will aim to do this in around 10 working days and, with the agreement of the enquirer, we will categorise this as a concern and not a complaint. The time constraint for bringing a complaint is 12 months from the occurrence giving rise to the complaint or 12 months from the time that the complainant becomes aware of the matter about which they wish to complain. If, however, there are good reasons for a complaint not being made within the timescale detailed above, consideration may be afforded to investigating the complaint if it is still feasible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly.

Responding to/investigating a complaint
  • The complainant has a right to be regularly updated regarding the progress of their complaint. The complaints manager at Newton Medical Centre will provide an initial response to acknowledge any complaint within three working days after the complaint is received.
  • There are no timescales when considering a complaint, simply that it must be investigated thoroughly, and that the complainant should be kept up to date with the progress of their complaint
  • This organisation will ensure that complaints are investigated effectively and in accordance with existing legislation and guidance. Furthermore, we will adhere to the following standards when addressing complaints:
  • The complainant has a single point of contact in the organisation and is placed at the centre of the process. The nature of their complaint and the outcome they are seeking are established at the outset
  • Investigations are thorough, where appropriate obtain independent evidence and opinion, and are carried out by local procedures, national guidance and within legal frameworks
  • The investigators review, organise and evaluate the investigative findings
  • The judgement reached by the decision maker is transparent, reasonable and based on the evidence available
  • The complaint documentation is accurate and complete. The investigation is formally recorded with the level of detail appropriate to the nature and seriousness of the complaint
  • Both the complainant and those complained about are responded to adequately
  • The investigation of the complaint is complete, impartial and fair
  • The complainant should receive a full response or decision within six months following the initial complaint being made. If the complaint is still being investigated, then this would be deemed to be a reasonable explanation for a delay
  • At Newton Medical Centre should any response not have been provided within six months, we will write to the complainant to explain the reasons for the delay and outline when they can expect to receive the response. At the same time, we will notify the complainant that they have a right to approach the PHSO without waiting for local resolution to be completed.
Unreasonable complaints

Where a complainant becomes aggressive, persistent 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 a 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 period of time will be restricted
  • A witness will be present for all contacts
  • Repeated complaints about the same issue will be refused
  • Only acknowledge correspondence regarding a closed matter, not respond to it
  • Set behaviour standards
  • Return irrelevant documentation
  • Keep detailed records
Final Response

This will include:

  • A clear statement of the issues, investigations and findings, giving clear evidencebased 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 outcomes for the patient, including any remedial action
  • A clear statement that the response is the final one, or that further action or reports will be sent later
  • An apology or explanation as appropriate
  • A statement of the right to escalate the complaint, together with the relevant contact details. The patient will be informed that they can escalate their complaint to:
The Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman

Millbank Tower Millbank London SW1P 4QP Telephone: 0345 015 4033 E-mail: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk

 
NHS England

Telephone: 0300 311 22 33 E-mail: england.contactus@nhs.net NHS England, PO Box 16728, Redditch,B97 9PT

Complaints Manager

North West London, 15 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JD nhsnwl.complaints@nhs.net

Confidentiality

All complaints must be treated in the strictest confidence Where the investigation of the complaint requires consideration of the patient’s medical records, the Practice Manager must inform the patient or person acting on their 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.