The purpose of this document is to show commitment to consumers and improve services; ensure accessibility; ensure responsiveness; ensure effective assessment; ensure appropriate resolution; ensure privacy and open disclosure; to gather and use information: ensure improvements are made; minimise conflict.
In spite of the efforts of all staff it is likely that a patient, at some point, will make a complaint. To reduce the anxiety and apprehension for both patients and staff it is crucial to have a procedure for handling complaints.
How complaints can be made:
Complaints may be received in writing or verbally. Where a patient is unable to communicate a complaint by either means on their own then arrangements will be made to facilitate the giving of the complaint.
Persons who can complain:
Complaints can be made by patients, former patients, someone who is affected, or likely to be affected, by the action, omission or decision of individuals working at the practice, or by a representative of a patient who is incapable of making the complaint himself or herself.
Time limit for making a complaint:
Complaints can be made up to 12 months after the incident that gave rise to the complaint, or from when the complainant was made aware of it. Beyond this timescale it is at the discretion of the clinic as to whether to investigate the matter.
Persons responsible for handling complaints Clinic Manager
The Clinic Manager
is responsible for the supervision of the complaints procedure and for making sure that action is taken in light of the outcome of any investigation.
The Medical Director is responsible for the handling and investigation of complaints.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
You can make your complaint in person, by phone, by email or in writing.
Independent Healthcare Services Team
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
1 South Gyle Crescent
Tel: 0131 623 4342 (10am-2pm, Monday to Friday)
Initial handling of complaints:
When a patient wishes to make a verbal complaint then the Clinic Manager is to arrange to meet the complainant in private to make an assessment of the complaint. The complainant is to be asked whether they would like to be accompanied at this meeting. The complaint should be resolved at this meeting if possible. If the complaint is resolved, then it should be recorded in the complaints register and the implicated staff member is to be told about the details of the complaint. When the complaint cannot be resolved the patient is to be asked to make a written complaint. If necessary, the Medical Director is to write down the complaint on their behalf verbatim. The written complaint is to be recorded in the complaints register. The Medical Director is to acknowledge a written complaint in writing within 3 working days, stating the anticipated date by which the complainant can expect a full response
Investigation of complaint:
The Medical Director is to discuss the complaint with the implicated member of staff to establish their recollection of events. If the complaint is against the Medical Director, then the complaint is to be referred to the Clinic Manager for investigation. The complainant is to be invited to a meeting to discuss the complaint with the Clinic Manager. If appropriate and with prior consent from the complainant, the staff member complained about can be present at that meeting. Minutes should be taken. The timescale to respond (maximum of 6 months) is to be agreed with the complainant at that meeting and documented in the complaints register. The full response to the complainant is to be signed by the Clinic Manager and include: an explanation of how the complaint was considered; the conclusions reached in relation to the complaint and any remedial action that will be needed, confirmation as to whether the practice is satisfied that any action has been taken or will be taken. If it is not possible to send the complainant a response in the agreed period it is necessary to write to the complainant explaining why. Then a response is to be sent to the complainant as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Recording complaints and investigations:
A record must be kept of: each complaint received; the subject matter of the complaint; the steps and decisions taken during an investigation; the outcome of each investigation; when the practice informed the complainant of the response period and any amendment to that period; whether a report of the outcome of the investigation was sent to the complainant within the response period or any amended period.
Review of complaints:
Complaints received by the practice are to be reviewed at staff meetings to ensure that learning points are shared. A review of all complaints will be conducted annually by the Clinic Manager to identify any patterns that are to be reported to the Complaints Manager. The Medical Director will notify the Clinic Manager of any concerns about a complaint leading to non-compliance. The Clinic Manager will identify ways for the practice to return to compliance.
The clinic’s arrangements for dealing with complaints and how further information about these arrangements may be obtained by patients is to be publicised by the Medical Director
Unreasonable complaints: When faced by an unreasonable complainant, staff will take appropriate action and liaise with the Medical Director.
To ensure management of complaints to restore trust and reduce the risk of litigation, through open communication and a commitment to learn from the problem and prevent its recurrence.
This protocol will be reviewed in August 2024 or earlier if new guidelines/knowledge becomes available.