Complaints Policy and Procedure


Introduction

 

This procedure sets out Solihealth’s approach to the handling of complaints and is intended both as an internal guide that should be made readily available to all staff, and also as a summary setting out the approach to complaint handling that should be available at reception for any patient requesting a copy.

From 1st April 2009 a common approach to the handling of complaints was introduced across health and adult social care. This procedure complies with this.

This Complaints Procedure and Policy should be read in conjunction with Solihealth’s Duty of Candour policy (ref: QG07)

Policy

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

  • The complaints procedure.
  • The organisations that can deal with a complaint about Solihealth’s services
  • The time limit for resolution.
  • How it will be dealt with.
  • Their right of appeal
  • Further action they can take if not satisfied.
  • The fact that any issues will not affect any ongoing treatment from the surgery and they will continue to be treated.

Procedure

 

Receiving of complaints

Solihealth 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 Solihealth, 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.

 

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. Solihealth’s standard will be 10 days for a response (10 days is the suggested response period, but services are free to set their own timescale).

The Complaints Manager or Clinical Lead 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. For example, longer periods of complaint timescales may apply to specific clinical areas.

When considering an extension to the time limit it is important that the Complaints Manager or the Clinical Lead 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.

Action upon receipt of a complaint

 

  • It is always better to try and deal with the complaint at the earliest opportunity and often it can be concluded at that point.
  • A verbal complaint is still a complaint and should be recorded
  • If the patient is unwilling or unable to make a written complaint, the member of staff who has the complaint reported to them or the complaints manager should make a formal record of the complaint to include any outcome that the patient may wish to see happen and have the patient agree that it an accurate record of the circumstances.
  • On receipt of a written complaint an acknowledgement should be sent within 3 working days confirming receipt and saying that a further response will be sent within 10 working days following an investigation of the issues. It should also say who is dealing with it i.e. the Complaints Manager or Clinical Lead.
  • If it is not possible to conclude any investigations with in the 10 days then the patient should be updated with progress and possible time scales.
  • A full investigation should 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.

The following internal process should be adhered to for the management of complaints:

 

Unreasonable Complaints

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
  • Referral to an advocacy service will be offered – for this area POWhER has been commissioned, they can be contacted on 0300 456 2370 and further information on their services can be found on their website https://www.pohwer.net/nhs-complaints-advocacy
  • Contact will be limited to one method only (e.g. in writing)

 

Final Response

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 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 send later
  • An apology or explanation as appropriate
  • A statement of the right to escalate the complaint, together with the relevant contact detail
  • It should also advise on the next step in the process if the complainant is still not satisfied. That would normally be an offer of a meeting with the Clinical Lead and the Complaints Manager to try further reconciliation.

 

Annual Review of Complaints

The service will establish an annual complaints report, incorporating a review of complaints received, along with any learning issues or changes to procedures which have arisen. This report is to 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
  • Justified / unjustified analysis
  • Known referrals to the Ombudsman
  • Subject matter / categorisation / clinical care
  • Learning points
  • Methods of complaints management
  • Any changes to procedure, policies or care which have resulted

 

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 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 home practice or an employee of Solihealth.

Solihealth 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. Complaint records will be kept separately from the patients medical record and a complaint must not effect the relationship between the patient and their GP, nor can it be a reason to remove a patient from a member GP list.

 

Complaints to NHS England

If a complainant has concerns relating to a directly commissioned service by NHS England, then the first step is, where appropriate, for complaints and concerns to be resolved on the spot with their local service provider. This is called by NHS England ‘informal complaint resolution’ and is in line with the recommendations of the Complaints Regulations of 2009.

If it is not appropriate to raise a concern informally or where informal resolution fails to achieve a satisfactory outcome, the complainant has the right to raise a formal complaint with either the service provider or the commissioner of the service NHS England. A complaint or concern can be received by mail, electronically or by telephone.

By telephone:               03003 11 22 33

By email:                       england.contactus@nhs.net

By post:                         NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT

All complaints to NHS England will be acknowledged no later than 3 working days after it has been received by telephone, email or letter, to consider how to progress the complaint;

  • Complainant’s expectations and desired outcomes
  • Agreed timescales to respond to complaint
  • Explain the complainants’ rights as they are defined in the NHS Constitution to include the Complaint and Action Plan
  • Whether an independent advocacy service is available in the complainant’s area
  • Consent for NHS England to handle the complaint if it requires input or investigation from organisations or parties that are not part of NHS England

The complainant will be kept up to date with the progress of their complaint by NHS England staff members, in their preferred method of communication (e.g. by email, telephone or written letter). If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome, then they will have the right to progress this further based on the complaints procedure that NHS England will provide to them during this process.

As part of the guidance on protecting data and personal information, if the complaint involves several organisations then the complainant will be asked for their permission to share or forward a complaint to another body, and further consent will be required to forward the complaint to any provider.

Resources

Complaints Leaflet is available for patients

Complaints Form (Appendix 1) – Click to download

Complaints Consent Form – third party (Appendix 2) – Click to download

How to make a complaint about an NHS service; http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1084.aspx?categoryid=68

 

NHS England

How to Complain

NHS complaints guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)