The full Complaints procedure document can be downloaded here.
Bath Street Medical Centre aims to provide the best possible service for patients, but appreciate that sometimes things go wrong, and that there is sometimes a need for a complaint to be raised about an area of concern to someone within the service.
We are therefore, committed to listening to patients, relatives and carers and acting on their views and experiences. This procedure has been formulated in the light of this ongoing commitment, and to ensure that staff handle complaints to a satisfactory standard. The organisation as a whole learns effectively form the lessons highlighted through the complaints process. We welcome your comments and suggestions on the facilities and services provided by the Practice. If you are pleased with the service you receive or feel that there could be an improvement please let us know.
If you have a complaint, do not be afraid to tell us at the Practice how you feel, but please be constructive and we will look into your complaint and respond.
Miss Jodie Taylor, our Practice Manager, will act as Complaints Officer on behalf of Bath Street Medical Centre’s team.
Copies of our Official Complaints procedure are available upon request from any surgery member of staff.
Purpose of the procedure:
To investigate complaints with the aim of satisfying complainants, whilst being open, flexible, conciliatory and scrupulously fair to staff, by encouraging communication on all sides and to learn any lessons for improvement in service delivery. The primary aim is to resolve the complaint satisfactorily. To ensure that the complaints are dealt with efficiently, fairly and in a timely manner. The complainant will be presented with all possible options for pursuing the complaining and the help available to them (Complaints Manager and Independent Complaints Advocacy Service). Staff will be trained, and encouraged, to adopt a culture of openness with users.
All staff, and the Surgery, to demonstrate a culture of taking complaints seriously.
There is a multi-disciplinary approach to handling complaints.
There are standards and processes known by all staff in the handling of complaints.
The public, service users and carers are aware of how to complain and the help available to them.
Where the standard of care is believed to be unsatisfactory by a patient or relative, complaints should be seen as an opportunity to review and improve service delivery.
Patients also have a right to have their complaint dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Who can complain?
A complaint may be made by:
A patient; or
Any person who is affected by, or likely to be affected by, the action, omission or decision of the NHS body, which is the subject of the complaint.
A complaint may be made by another individual acting on behalf of a person mentioned as above in any cases where that person:
Is a child or minor;
Is unable, by reason of physical or mental incapacity, to make the complaint them self; or
Has requested a representative to act on their behalf (patient’s written consent will usually be required for the person to pursue the complaint on the patient’s behalf).
In the case of a patient or person affected who has died or who is incapable, the representative much be a relative or other person who, in the opinion of the Complaints Manager, had or has a sufficient interest in his/her welfare and is suitable person to tact as a representative.
If, in any case, the Complaints Manager is of an opinion that a representative does, or did not, have sufficient interest in the person’s welfare, or is unsuitable to act as a representative, they must notify that person in writing, stating the reasons for their decision.
In the case of a child, the representative must be a parent, guardian or other adult person who has care of the child, and where the child is in the care of a local authority organisation, the representative must be a person authorised by the local authority or voluntary organisation.
If the patient is a minor, or unable to give consent, then it is advisable to seek expert advice, as each case will need to be judged on its own merit.
What can be complained about?
A complaint to an NHS body may be about any matter reasonably connected with the exercise of its functions including, in particular:
(a) Its provision of healthcare or any other services, including in the case of Primary Care Trusts, its provision of primary medical services.
(b) The function of commissioning healthcare or other services under an NHS contract or making arrangements for the provision of such care or other services with an independent practitioner / provider.
(c) Matters where patients are involved in research projects being undertaken by the Primary Care Trust.
Matters excluded from consideration include:
(a) A complaint made by an NHS body which relates to the exercise of its functions by another NHS body.
(b) A complaint made by a primary care practitioner / provider which relates either to the exercise of its functions by an NHS body or to the contact or arrangements under which it provides primary care services.
(c) A complaint made by an employee of an NHS body about any matter relating to his contract of employment.
(d) A complaint which is being or has been investigated by the Health Service Commissioner.
(e) A complaint about which the complainant has stated in writing that he intends to take legal proceedings.
(f) A complaint where an NHS body is taking, or is proposing to take, disciplinary action in relation to the substance of the complaint against a person that is the subject of that complaint.
Further guidance is available in “The National Health Service (Complaints) Regulations 2004”
A complaint can only be investigated once, under the Principal Regulations
Making a Complaint
Time Limits on Initiating Complaints
The complaint should be registered with us for 6 months from the date of the incident that caused the problem, or within 6 months of the date of discovering the problem, provided that this is within 12 months of the incident. Discretion to extend the timescales can be used ie, if a complaint is received outside the above times scales it is for the Complaints Manager to decide whether or not the complaint can be investigated.
The criteria used to make the decision are that it would have been unreasonable for the complainant to make the complaint any earlier (i.e. due to a prolonged illness), and that it is still possible to investigate the complaint properly.
Responsibilities within Bath Street Medical Centre
The Surgery Manager, or her authorised Deputy in her absence (Ms Wendy Holmes), shall be available to have any complaint made directly to her, and will acknowledge and make final written responses to any such complaints. She will also be responsible for making final written responses to all written complaints received, and all oral complaints not resolved immediately upon receipt.
The Surgery Manageror her authorised Deputy in her absence (Ms Wendy Holmes), shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with Complaints Policy / Procedure, and that action is taken in the light of the outcome of any investigation.
The Surgery Manager shall ensure that:
Confidentiality of complaints material is safeguarded throughout.
Final responses are referred to the Senior Partner for action.
Lessons are learnt and disseminated across the surgery.
How to respond to a complaint
Complaints should be made in writing:-
All complaints should be acknowledged in writing within 3 working days.
Investigate the complaint keeping a log of all findings, detailing dates and interview notes.
We will then implement our formal Complaint Procedure, endeavouring to resolve the complaint satisfactory within 14 days of the initial complaint acknowledgement. This period may be slightly extended during holiday times, should the responsible party be on annual / sick leave at the time of the complaint, or discretionary by the Complaints Manager where it is felt a longer period of time is required to construct an adequate response.
The Complainant will be asked to respond within a further 14 days as to whether they feel their complaint has received a satisfactory response. Should the complainant feel the response is not satisfactory, the Practice Manager will arrange an interview between the responsible parties. It is hoped that at this stage all parties can resolve the matter.
We will endeavour to acknowledge receipt (in writing) of any complaint, verbal or written, to the complainant within 3 working days of the date of the complaint to the Complaints Officer.
Complaints Against Employees
Employees should be fully informed at the outset of any complaints made against them personally. They should be advised of their right to seek advice and assistance from their professional organisation before making their formal response, although the response should be made in compliance with complaints handling timescales.
Complaints Against Other Organisations
Where a complaint relates in part, or wholly, to the service or care delivered by another organisation, the recipient should forward it to the Complaints Manager, the Chief Executive or authorised representative immediately for action.
Complaints Relating to Clinical Judgement
Any response made to a complainant that refers to matters of clinical judgement shall be agreed by the Clinician concerned, and in the case of medical care, by the Consultant concerned.
It is not necessary to obtain the patient’s express consent for the use of their personal information to investigate a complaint. Care must be taken at all times throughout the Complaints Procedure to ensure that any information disclosed about the patient is confined to that which is relevant to the investigation of the complaint, and should only be disclosed to those people who have demonstrated need to know. It is good practice to explain to the patient that information for his / her health records may need to be disclosed to the Complaints Manager.
Where complaints are about NHS and other parties, such as the Local Authority, we must obtain the consent of the complainant before forwarding the details of the complaint to the other party. This must be done within 14 working days of receipt of the complaint.
Where the complainant does not want the details to be shared, our team should advise them on the parts of the complaint it is able to deal with, adding that if the complainant wishes to pursue the remaining issues, they should approach the relevant party independently.
Any complaint received by a member or employee of Bath Street Medical Centre, on first impression or at any time during the investigation, that the matter may need referral to any of the following, or relate to the categories set out below, should be passed immediately to the Complaints Manager or authorised representative:
Investigation under disciplinary procedure.
Referral to one of the professional regulatory bodies.
An independent enquiry called by the Secretary of State into a serious incident under Section 84 of the NHS act (1977).
An investigation of a criminal offence.
If a complaint indicates a possible case of negligence or there is any indication that the complainant intends to, or has instigated legal action, details should be passed immediately to the Complaints Manager or authorised representative.
Mental Health Complaints
Patients with Mental Health problems pose particular challenges to staff dealing with their complaints. It is helpful if someone with a clinical background is responsible for seeing all complaints from patients with Mental Health problems as they can bring a clinical perspective to the complaints handling, and therefore help to reach an understanding of what the complainant is trying to achieve.
Advice and Assistance
Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
If an individual is unhappy about something, but do not wish to make a complaint straightaway, they can speak to a PALS officer. They are not part of the official complaints process, but are able to deal with concerns or give further information in respect of the complaints process. )
The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS)
ICAS Can help individuals make a complaint or express a concern about the Primary Care Trust or Practitioner. Staff at ICAS can support individuals if they wish to make a complaint, and give advice about using the complaints process. They can also write letters on an individual’s behalf, and attend meetings.