What is a complaint?
Its’ recognised that this is not always easy to determine, however, it is usually when someone voices their dissatisfaction with the service provided and where a response is required.
Common causes of Complaint:
- Clinical care and treatment
- Failure to diagnose
- Attitude of health professional and/or staff
- Delay to visit/Unable to get an appointment/Not being seen on time
- Failure to refer
- Poor communication
- Breach of Confidentiality
- Practice Administration
What do Patients Want?
- To be listened to, to have their concerns taken seriously
- An apology
- An explanation of the events
- Reassurance that things will be put right
Who Can Complain?
- Anyone who is receiving or has received NHS treatment or services including minors i.e. under 16.
What to do if a patient makes a complaint:
Some complaints can be dealt with on the spot e.g. prescription not ready or sent to chemist in error, forms or letters not ready for collection etc.
Apologise to the patient and show empathy (let them know that you understand how they feel). Remember to stay calm and speak softly even if the patient is abusive.
Collect as much information as you can about the patient (name address telephone etc.) and their problem. Confirm the information with the patient.
Investigate the problem in an effort to try to identify possible solutions and if possible provide the patient with an explanation.
Agree with the patient a way forward. This can sometimes be difficult if patients are very upset and are not happy with any of your suggestions in which case it may useful to ask the patient how they would like to see the matter resolved.
Ensure that you follow through any agreed action and check that the patient is happy with the solution.
If you are unable to satisfy the patient please make the patient aware of the PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) who may be able to help, particularly useful for patients who do not wish to make a formal complaint.
Provide the patient with a copy of the NHS Complaints Procedure, which can be located in the red complaints/suggestions file in reception.
Record the incident in the red complaints/suggestions file.
We can learn from our mistakes. The complaints will be reviewed and used as a tool to improve our services.
Complaints that are Not Easy to Resolve:
These include more serious complaints such as, complaints against a GP or member of staff, breach of confidentiality, clinical matters etc. These patients should be given a copy of the NHS complaints procedure and referred to the Practice Manager. If the complaint is about the practice manager, please refer to the Senior Partner.
The practice operates an internal complaints procedure known as local resolution. The practice aims to give you a quick but thorough response to your complaint.
Anyone who is receiving or has received NHS treatment or services can make a complaint.
If you are unable to make your complaint yourself, then someone else such as a relative or a friend can complain for you. If you are aged 16 or over your representative will need your written consent.
If you are complaining on behalf of a patient that has died you will need to provide a letter of administration or proof that you are the executor of the will.
It is important to make your complaint as soon as possible after the problem arises.
- Complaints may be made verbally or in writing to the Practice Manager.
- Your complaint will be recorded and acknowledged within 3 working days.
- Your complaint will be investigated thoroughly and fairly.
- As per the NHS England Complaints Resolution guidelines;
- “There is no timescale for providing a response but the regulations specify that the complainant should be updated, and informed of the reasons for the time taken, in writing if there is no response provided within six months” https://resolution.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/CNSGP-Responding-to-complaints.pdf
However, we try our best to investigate the points raised and write to the complainant within 1 month of the date of the acknowledgement letter.
If we are unable to satisfy the complanant through local resolution, or the complainant is unhappy with our response, they have the right to take their complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is independent of the government and the NHS. You can contact their helpline on 03450154033, email firstname.lastname@example.org, fax 03000614000 or via post Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP. Further information about the Ombudsman is available at www.ombudsman.org.uk
Changes to making complaints from 1st July 2023
from 1 July 2023, the way members of the public make a complaint about primary care services to the commissioner is changing.
There are two ways members of the public can make a complaint:
- You can complain to the healthcare provider: for example, a GP surgery
- You can complain to the commissioner of the service
West London instead of NHS England.
They will need to do this by:
- Telephone: 020 3350 4567 (This is an automated service. Please leave a
message requesting a call back)
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Writing to us at: Complaints Manager, NHS North West London, 15 Marylebone
Road, London NW1 5JD