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 within
3 days. The Practice Manager will, within 3 days, respond acknowledging receipt of the complaint and providing an explanation of the procedure being followed, advising of the timescale required to investigate and report back to complainant. (In the absence of the Practice Manager Complaints should be passed to one of the GP partners).
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 passed to the Practice Manager for information. This will be kept as record of the complaint. In cases where the complaint was received over the phone or at the reception desk, the Practice Manager should write a letter to the patient summarising the issues being investigated and any justifications or resolutions at that point.
For serious complaints, where the complainant 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 submitted 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; this may include annotation of a telephone call, if another staff member recorded a complaint, either their written account or the email they sent.
The Practice Manager will then investigate the matter as appropriate, which will at the least involve discussing it with whoever was involved from the practice team.
The complaint will be discussed with the individual staff members involved and as appropriate other members of the team. It may be necessary to hold a significant event meeting regarding the content of the complaint; this would involve all applicable staff members.
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. This letter will include details of the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service run in the this area by Healthwatch Northumberland
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 advised to contact PALS or ICAS. 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 CCG 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 an annual basis, a summary of all complaints received is sent to the Patient Experience Team for their statistics.
c/o Adapt (North East), Burn Lane, Hexham, Northumberland, NE463HN
Tel: 0800 0320202