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Complaints

Introduction 

Bron Derw Medical Centre operates a complaints procedure based on the NHS model, and the Guidelines recommended by Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board, and our staff who deal with complaints have attended the LHB training sessions. 

This procedure sets out the Practice’s approach to the handling of complaints and is intended as an internal guide available to all staff. 

Download a copy of our Practice Complaints Leaflet:

Please also see the BCUHB website section on Putting Things Right where you can download their leaflet.  

Procedure 

1. General provisions 

The Practice will take reasonable steps to ensure that patients are aware of: 

• the complaints procedure; 

• the role of the local Health Board and other bodies in relation to complaints about services under the contract; and 

• their right to assistance with any complaint from independent review services. 

The Practice will take reasonable steps to ensure that the complaints procedure is accessible to all patients. 

2. Receiving of complaints 

The Practice may receive a complaint made by, or on behalf of a patient, or former patient, who is receiving or has received treatment at the Practice. A relative or friend may make a complaint on behalf of a patient, however if the response is to include personal information then express consent will be required. 

Where the patient is a child, only a parent or other person who has legal responsibility for the child may make a complaint on the patient’s behalf. 

3. Period within which complaints can be made 

The period for making a complaint is: 

(a) six months from the date on which the event which is the subject of the complaint occurred; or 

(b) six months from the date on which the event which is the subject of the complaint comes to the complainant's notice (provided that the complaint is made no later than 12 months after the date of the event). 

These timescales should be viewed flexibly. GPs and / or Practice Managers should accept the complaint if it would have been difficult or unreasonable for the complaint to have been lodged earlier, and it is still possible to adequately investigate and collate the facts surrounding the event. 

When considering an extension to the time limit it is important that the GP or manager takes into consideration that the passage of time may prevent an accurate recollection of events by the clinician concerned or by the person bringing the complaint. The collection of evidence, Clinical Guidelines or other resources relating to the time when the complaint event arose may also be difficult to establish or obtain. 

4. Complaints handling 

The practice will nominate: 

(a) a person (the ‘Complaints Officer’) to be responsible for the operation of the complaints procedure and the investigation of complaints; and 

(b) a Partner, or other senior person associated with the practice, to be responsible for the effective management of the complaints procedure and for ensuring that action is taken in the light of the outcome of any investigation. 

5. Action upon receipt of a complaint 

Complaints may be received either verbally if the Practice Managers and Reception Manager are available or need to be in writing and must be forwarded to the Complaints Officer (or his/her stand-in if the Complaints Officer is unavailable), who must: 

- acknowledge the complaint in writing within the period of 2 working days beginning with the day on which the complaint was received. 

- ensure the complaint is properly investigated 

- provide a full response to the patient within 20 working days beginning with the day on which the complaint was received by the Complaints Officer. Where that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable, the complainant must be given a written statement of the reason for the delay and an indication of when a response will be available. 

 
6. Review of complaints 

Complaints received by the practice will be reviewed to ensure that learning points are shared with the whole practice team: 

- complaints received during the month will be reviewed monthly at meetings of practice staff to ensure any actions required are put into practice. 
- A full review of all complaints will be carried out annually to identify any trends or additional actions/learning points. 

7. Confidentiality 

All complaints must be treated in the strictest confidence. 

Where the investigation of the complaint requires consideration of the patient's medical records, the Complaints Officer must inform the patient or person acting on his/her behalf if the investigation will involve disclosure of information contained in those records to a person other than the Practice or an employee of the Practice. 

The practice must keep a record of all complaints and copies of all correspondence relating to complaints, but such records must be kept separate from patients' medical records. 

8. Escalation 

Complaints must be handled locally within the practice at the initial stages. Where the patient remains unhappy with the complaint outcomes they may request a review by the Independent Review Secretariat within 28 days of the notification of the outcome. 

Once the secretariat receives notification of the complaint they will acknowledge within 2 working days, advise interested parties that the matter is subject to review, and appoint independent lay review personnel, who may include a clinician. The reviewer will provide the complainant with the Secretariat’s response. 

Where the patient remains unhappy with the Review outcome they may take the matter to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. Practices may also refer matters to the Ombudsman if they feel that the complaints administration or process has been managed unfairly. The Ombudsman will not normally accept complaints older than 12 months without good reason. 

Resources 

Putting Things Right 

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Putting Things Right: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/861/page/63560 

Information about Putting Things Right from 1 April 2011 

Supporting documents on the new way for dealing with concerns from 1 April 2011 can be found on: 
http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sites3/page.cfm?orgid="932&pid=50738



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