image depicting complaints

Complaints Procedure

1. Introduction

1.1 Policy Statement

The purpose of this document is to ensure all staff at Wells Park Practice understand that all patients have a right to have their complaint acknowledged and investigated properly. Wells Park Practice takes complaints seriously and ensures that they are investigated in an unbiased, transparent, non-judgemental and timely manner.

The organisation will maintain communication with the complainant (or their representative) throughout, ensuring they know the complaint is being taken seriously.

The policy is aligned to the mandatory requirements of:

It is also aligned to, and should be read in conjunction with, both the CQC GP Mythbuster 103 – Complaints Management and the General Medical Council (GMC) ethical guidance

The General Medical Council (GMC) ethical guidance states a ‘good’ doctor will:

  • Make the patients your first concern
  • Take prompt action if you think the patient is being compromised
  • Establish and maintain good relationships with patients
  • Be honest and open and act with integrity.
  • Listen to, and respond to, patients’ concerns and preferences.

The organisation will aim to design and implement policies and procedures that meet the diverse needs of our service and workforce, ensuring that none are placed at a disadvantage over others, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. Consideration has been given to the impact this policy might have regarding the individual protected characteristics of those to whom it applies.

1.2 Status

This document applies to all employees of the organisation and other individuals performing functions in relation to the organisation such as agency workers, locums and contractors. 

This document and any procedures contained within it are non-contractual and may be modified or withdrawn at any time. For the avoidance of doubt, it does not form part of your contract of employment.

2. Guidance

2.1 Legislation

Every NHS facility has a complaints procedure. This permits a patient (or their nominated representative) to submit a complaint either to the NHS organisation or the organisation that has been commissioned by the NHS to provide a service.  

This organisation adopts a patient-focused approach to complaint handling in accordance with the National Health Service England Complaints Policy (2021) whilst also conforming to guidance detailed in:

2.2 Responsible person

At Wells Park Practice, the responsible person is Antonia Makinde, Non Clinical Managing Partner. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with the complaints regulations making sure action is taken because of the complaint. 

2.3 Complaints manager

At Wells Park Practice the complaints manager is Shereen Sinclair, Reception/Admin Manager. They are responsible for managing all complaints procedures and must be readily identifiable to service users.  

If you need to make a complaint, please use our contact us form.

2.4 Formal or informal?

There is no difference between a “formal” and an “informal” complaint. Both are expressions of dissatisfaction.

It is the responsibility of the complaints manager to consider whether the complaint is informal and therefore early resolution of an issue may be possible. If the complaints manager believes an issue can be resolved quickly then this organisation will aim to do this in around 10 working days and, with the agreement of the enquirer, we will categorise this as a concern and not a complaint.

However, if the enquirer is clear that they wish to formalise the complaint, then the organisation will follow this complaints policy in full.

2.5 Complaints procedure statement

Wells Park Practice has prominently displayed notices in the waiting area detailing the complaints process. In addition, the process is included on the organisation website and a complaints leaflet is also available from reception 

2.6 Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s role is to make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved locally by the NHS in England. The Ombudsman looks at complaints where someone believes there has been injustice or hardship because an organisation has not acted properly or has given a poor service and not put things right. 

The Ombudsman can recommend that organisations provide explanations, apologies and financial remedies to service users and that they take action to improve services.

2.7 Complainant options

The complainant, or their representative, can complain about any aspect of care or treatment they have received at this organisation to this organisation via the complaints manager or directly to SE London ICS.

If direct to SE London ICS they can be contacted on:

Note: Patients can talk to NHS England in British Sign Language (BSL) via a video call to a BSL interpreter. Currently this needs to be booked although this will eventually be available via an App or through the NHS E website.

Complaints are not escalated to NHS E following the organisation’s response. A complaint is made to either the organisation or NHS E at Stage 1. 

If dissatisfied with the response from NHS E to the organisation, then the complainant may wish to escalate their complaint to the PHSO. This process is as detailed within the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations (2009) where it states that there should be two stages of dealing with complaints.

See below image that further explains the route of any complaint:

  • Stage 1: The complainant may make a complaint to either the organisation or to NHS England. This is classed as a local resolution
  • Stage 2: If dissatisfied with the initial Stage 1 response, the complainant may then escalate this to the PHSO

Patients, or a person acting on their behalf, can complain to either the organisation or NHS E but not both. Note, NHS E cannot investigate if an organisation has already responded. 

The complainant should be provided with a copy of the organisation leaflet at Annex D detailing the complaints process and they should be advised of the two-stage process.

2.8 Timescale

The time constraint for bringing a complaint is 12 months from the occurrence giving rise to the complaint or 12 months from the time that the complainant becomes aware of the matter about which they wish to complain. 

If, however, there are good reasons for a complaint not being made within the timescale detailed above, consideration may be afforded to investigating the complaint if it is still feasible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly.].

2.9 Responding to a concern

Should the complaints manager become aware that a patient, or the patient’s representative, wishes to discuss a concern, then this is deemed to be less formal and should be responded to as detailed below.

Points that should be considered are that:

  • Should the patient be on the premises, then there will need to be a degree of interaction sooner than if it was a telephone call or email 
  • All facts need to be ascertained prior to any conversation
  • Should the person be angry, contacting them too soon may inflame the situation further if they did not receive the outcome that they desired 
  • Consider any potential precedence that may be established, and will any future concern be expected to always be dealt with immediately should any response be given too soon
  • Time management always needs to be considered 
  • Many of the concerns raised are not a true complaint, simply a point to note or a concern and this will still be investigated and an answer ordinarily given within 10 working days. In doing this and with agreement with the enquirer, this would not need to be logged as a complaint as it can be dealt with as a concern.

Whilst each concern will warrant its own response, generally at Wells Park Practice the outcome will always be to ensure that the best response is always provided. 

2.10 Responding to a complaint

The complainant has a right to be regularly updated regarding the progress of their complaint. The complaints manager at Wells Park Practice will provide an initial response to acknowledge any complaint within three working days after the complaint is received. 

All complaints are to be added to the complaints log.

There are no timescales when considering a complaint, simply that it must be investigated thoroughly, and that the complainant should be kept up to date with the progress of their complaint. However, Wells Park Practice will endeavour to respond to complaints within 30 working days.  

2.11 Who can make a complaint?

A complaint may be made by the person who is affected by the action, or it may be made by a person acting on behalf of a patient in any case where that person: 

  • Is a child (an individual who has not attained the age of 18). In the case of a child, this organisation must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the complaint being made by a representative of the child and furthermore that the representative is making the complaint in the best interests of the child.
  • Has died. In the case of a person who has died, the complainant must be the personal representative of the deceased. Wells Park Practice will require to be satisfied that the complainant is the personal representative. Where appropriate, the organisation may request evidence to substantiate the complainant’s claim to have a right to the information. 
  • Has physical or mental incapacity. In the case of a person who is unable by reason of physical capacity or lacks capacity within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to make the complaint themselves, the organisation needs to be satisfied that the complaint is being made in the best interests of the person on whose behalf the complaint is made.
  • Has given consent to a third party acting on their behalf. In the case of a third party pursuing a complaint on behalf of the person affected, the organisation will request the following information:
  1. Name and address of the person making the complaint
  2. Name and either date of birth or address of the affected person
  3. Contact details of the affected person so that they can be contacted for confirmation that they consent to the third party acting on their behalf 

The above information will be documented in the file pertaining to this complaint and confirmation will be issued to both the person making the complaint and the person affected. 

  • Has delegated authority to act on their behalf, for example in the form of a registered Power of Attorney which must cover health affairs
  • Is an MP, acting on behalf of and by instruction from a constituent

Should the complaints manager believe a representative does or did not have sufficient interest in the person’s welfare, or is not acting in their best interests, they will discuss the matter with either the defence union or NHS Resolution to confirm prior to notifying the complainant in writing of any decision.

2.12 Investigating complaints

Wells Park Practice will ensure that complaints are investigated effectively and in accordance with extant legislation and guidance.

3. Summary

The care and treatment delivered by Wells Park Practice are done so with due diligence and in accordance with current guidelines.  However, it is acknowledged that sometimes things can go wrong.

By having an effective complaints process in place, this organisation can investigate and resolve complaints in a timely manner, achieving the desired outcome for service users whilst also identifying lessons learned and ultimately improving service delivery.