Complaints Procedure

Complaints policy

Section Page
4Handling Unreasonable & Vexatious Complaints6
6Complaints register7
7Annual review of complaints7
8Recording a summary of complaints to the Care Quality Commission7
1.1We aim to provide the highest standards of care to each one of our patients and aim to do our very best to get things right. The complaints that we receive help us to better understand how we are doing, lessons we can learn and the improvements we can make on services going forward. We are committed to listening to our patients, acknowledging their concerns, and putting things right where appropriate. The purpose of this policy is to outline how a complaint, comment, compliment, or concern can be made and the steps we are to take should we receive one.  
2.1It is the policy of Sabden and Whalley Medical Group that any complaint, comment, compliment, or concern made by patients or others contacting the practice on the patient’s behalf are fully investigated and remedied where appropriate. As such, each practice has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps in ensuring that its members of staff are fully aware of and comply with this policy.  To support this policy, the surgery has created two roles to oversee it. Complaints Manager   The Complaints Manager has a responsibility for managing complaints within the practice and ensuring that adequate investigations are carried out.   Verbal complaints will be dealt with via our complaints/ reception manager Donna Thompson   Responsible Person   There is a ‘Responsible Person’ allocated for the  practice : Luan Stewart Practice Manager.     The above persons are responsible for ensuring complaints are handled in accordance with the regulations, that lessons learned are fully implemented, and that no complainant is discriminated against for making a complaint. The responsible person will answer written complaints and deal with complaints that have been escalated from NHS England.   To ensure compliance with the policy, a procedure has been developed for members of staff to follow.    
3.1Purpose: The purpose of the procedure is to guide members of staff on the types of complaint that could be received, the responsibilities, and on the steps that should be taken when handling as complaint.

3.2Types of Complaint:
– The Practice may receive the following complaints: A complaint made directly by the patient or former patient, who is receiving or has received treatment at the Practice
– A complaint made on behalf of a patient or former patient (with consent), who is receiving or has received treatment at the Practice
– 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 into 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.
-Where the patient has died, and there are grounds to complain about the treatment the deceased received, this can be done by an appropriate third party.
– Where the patient is incapable of making a complaint, this can be done by a representative who has an interest in the patient’s welfare. When a complaint is made on behalf of a child or an individual lacking mental capacity, the practice must be satisfied that: – There are reasonable grounds for this method of representation.
– The third party is genuinely acting in the best interests of the individual.

If the practice is not satisfied that this is the case, they must inform the representative in writing, stating the reasons for this decision.


The Practice will take all reasonable steps to ensure that patients are encouraged to voice their comments and concerns and to update them on the resources that are available.

– The Comments, Compliments, Concerns and Complaints leaflet
Waiting Room poster.
– Practice websites/Facebook page.
These are the prime sources of information which help create awareness for patients. This information is freely available and kept up to date.
In all cases any comments, compliments, concerns and complaints made are to be treated seriously and in a sensitive and confidential manner.
There is a Comments, Compliments, Concerns and Complaints procedure in place. The roles of their Practice, NHS England, Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman regarding patient complaints are outlined here.
– Their right to support and guidance with any complaint which can be accessed by the Health Complaint Advocacy Service, Healthwatch, Citizens Advice Bureau, NHS England and CQC
– Patients have the right to complain directly to NHS England should they feel that they cannot raise the complaint with the practice as well as their right to escalate further should the complainant not be happy with the practice’s response.

In the first instance, patients are encouraged to complain in writing (where possible) to the practice, as this will help ensure that the complaint can be effectively investigated, and the right persons are involved to deal with the complaint. All patients who make a complaint will:
– Have their complaint acknowledged and properly investigated
– Be treated fairly, politely and with respect
– Be sure that their care and treatment will not be affected as a result of making a complaint
– Be kept informed of the progress and told of the outcome
– Expect appropriate action to be taken following the complaint.

The practice will maintain a complete record of all copies of related correspondence. These records will be kept separately from the patient’s medical records.

3.4Periods of time within which complaints can be made.
The periods of time within which a complaint can be made is normally within 12 months of the incident, or within 12 months of when the matter came to your attention.                                        
This time limit can sometimes be extended if there is good reason for the delay and if it is still possible to investigate the complaint fairly and effectively.

3.5Action on Receipt of Comments, Compliments, Concerns and Complaints.
All complaints, whether written or verbal, will be recorded by the Complaints Manager in the dedicated complaints record folder. Complaints should be acknowledged within 3 working days of receiving the complaint. Each practice will maintain a register of complaints in order to identify any pattern of complaint relating to all or a group of patients. This record will be accessible to all members of staff where appropriate, unless there is a safeguarding concern. Comments, concerns and suggestions are recorded and reviewed at the monthly management meetings and acted on accordingly. Compliments will be recorded and made available for all members of staff to read and reflect on and will also go on to the personal file of any member of staff individually complimented. Additionally, these compliments will be raised at the monthly management meetings to ensure that member of staff concerned is appropriately recognised.
The Practice will investigate each complaint speedily and efficiently and as far as reasonably practicable and keep the complainant informed of the progress of the investigation. Where a complaint investigation requires access to the patient’s records and involves disclosure of this information to a person outside of the practice, the complaints manager will inform the patient or person acting on their behalf. If the Practice identifies that the complaint will involve a third party (such as NHS England) it will agree with the third party which organisation will take the lead in responding and communicating with the complainant.

3.7Response After the investigation is completed, the Practice (or the leading third party) will compile a written report which incorporates:
– A summary of each element of the complaint
– Details of policies or guidelines followed
– A summary of the investigation
– Details of key issues or facts identified by an investigation
– Conclusions of the investigation: was there an error, omission, or shortfall by your organisation? Did this disadvantage the complainant, and if so, how?
– What needs to be done to put things right
– An apology if appropriate
– An explanation of what will happens next (e.g. what will be done, who will do it, and when)
– Information on what the person complaining should do if they are still unhappy and wish to escalate the complaint
– Confirmation as to whether the Practice is satisfied that any necessary action has been taken or is proposed to be taken
– A statement of the complainant’s right to take their complaint further.
If the Practice does not send the complainant a response within the 6 month “relevant period”, it will Notify the complainant in writing accordingly and explain the reason why; and send the complainant, in writing, a response as soon as reasonably practicable after the 6 month “relevant period”. However, at any time during the investigation, the Complaints Manager or Responsible Person has the discretion to liaise with the complainant to extend this timeframe to a mutually agreeable date, provided it is still possible to carry out a full and proper investigation of the complaint fairly and effectively.

3.8Escalation A complainant has the right to support and guidance with any complaint and this is available from the following services: – Healthwatch
– Citizens Advice Bureau
– NHS England
– Care Quality Commission.
Should the complainant decide to escalate the complaint further they then need to be directed to the Independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

4.0Handling Unreasonable & Vexatious Complaints
4.1Not all complaints need to be investigated. Vexatious (purely to cause annoyance to the practice) complaints that come directly to the practice can be rejected, with confirmation of the rejection and the reasons for it sent to the patient. The practice should also inform the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Local Medical Committee (LMC) if it feels the complaints system is being abused. However, this does not diminish concerns about vexatious complaints that are made to NHS England.   In situations where the person making the complaint can become aggressive or unreasonable, the Practice will instigate the appropriate actions from the list below and will advise the complainant accordingly: – Ensure contact is being overseen by an appropriate senior member of staff who will act as the single point of contact and make it clear to the complainant that other members of staff will be unable to help them
– Ask that they make contact in only one way, appropriate to their needs (e.g. via email).Place a time limit on any contact
– Restrict the number of calls or meetings during a specified period
– Ensure that a witness will be involved in each contact
– Refuse to register repeated complaints about the same issue
– Do not respond to correspondence regarding a matter that has already been closed, only acknowledge it
– Explain that you do not respond to correspondence that is abusive
– Make contact through a third person such as a specialist advocate
– Ask the complainant to agree how they will behave when dealing with your service in the future
– When using any of these approaches to manage contact with unreasonable or aggressive people, provide an explanation of what is occurring and why
– Maintain a detailed record of any contact.
5.1Each practice always needs to preserve confidentiality and protect personal information.

6.0Complaints register
6.1To ensure the Practice monitors, handles and reviews complaints in a logical and timely manner, and to keep an audit trail of steps taken and decisions reached, the Practice records all complaints received on a dedicated complaints register (see Appendix 3).

7.0Annual review of complaints
7.1In line with National Guidance, the Practice will supply the following information to NHS England: The number of complaints receivedThe issues that these complaints raisedWhether complaints have been upheldThe number of cases referred to the Ombudsman.
8.0Record a summary of complaints to the Care Quality Commission
8.1The Practice will adhere to the Care Quality Commission’s requirement of producing a summary of complaints at a time and in a format set out by the CQC and then send the summary within the timeframe specified.