Whilst we endeavour to ensure that patients are treated promptly, courteously and with appropriate care at all times, we do acknowledge that, occasionally, problems do occur and, in accordance with national guidelines, we operate a structured complaints procedure. The aim is to ensure a quick and amicable resolution to patients’ complaints – whichever area of their care is involved.
Complaints should be made within 6 months of a particular event or within 6 months of a patient realising that they have a complaint providing that no more than 12 months have elapsed since the event.
Once a complaint is brought to our attention it must be acknowledged immediately and a reply must be given in ten working days.
Minor complaints can be brought to the attention of any member of the practice team either verbally or in writing. All complaints will be treated in the strictest confidence and, privacy will be offered to discuss the problem with an appropriate person as a means of resolving the issue. This person could be the practice manager, a GP, nurse or senior member of the admin staff.
If the complaint can be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant at this stage by means of a simple explanation or account of events this should be attempted. The discussion should then be summarised in writing by the team member and/or passed to the Practice Manager for information.
For serious complaints, where the complaint questions the clinical judgement or professional practice of a member of the medical staff (GPs or nurses), an informal resolution should not be attempted. The complaint should be requested in writing to the Practice Manager for a formal investigation of the events.
On receipt of the complaint, the practice manager will register the complaint by placing a copy in the complaints folder. She will then investigate the matter as appropriate, which will at the least involve discussing it with whoever was involved from the practice team as well as including in report to the Patient Experience manager.
If the complainant is not the patient involved then the complainant should obtain the patient’s consent before a formal investigation can take place.
Following the investigation, the manager or senior partner will write to the complainant with an account of her/his findings offering, where appropriate, an apology, an explanation or a justification for the event. The patient will also be advised that Independent support is available to assist them if required. This is provided by the Independent Complaints Advisory Service (ICAS) who can be contacted on 0808 802 3000.
Should the complainant remain unsatisfied with the explanation, he/she will be encouraged to contact PALS or ICAS and to seek an independent review from the Patient Experience Manager based at Bevan House. If the complaint cannot be resolved at that point then it can be referred to the Ombudsman.
Once resolved, complaints will be brought to the attention of the wider PHCT via Significant Event Audit meetings so that any lessons learned, new systems required or changes to working practices can be communicated effectively to the whole team. There is now a wider reference forum SIRMS (Safeguard Incident and Risk Management Systems) so that events can be shared more widely with other organisations and practices.
On a quarterly basis, a summary of all complaints received is sent to the Patient experience Team for their statistics.
Updated march 2015