Suggestions and Complaints
We make every effort to give the best service possible to everyone who attends our practice.
We aim to provide patients with the best care we can, but we will sometimes fall short of the mark. If you have any compliments, comments, concerns or complaints about our service, we want to hear from you. General feedback can be given via our comments book located in the reception area.
If you have a complaint to make, please do not be afraid to say how you feel. We welcome feedback to help us improve our standards, and we will do our best to address any concerns that you may have. Our complaints procedure meets the National criteria.
How to complain
We hope that most problems can be sorted out easily and quickly, often at the time they arise and with the person concerned. If your problem cannot be sorted out in this way and you wish to make a formal complaint, we would like you to let us know as soon as possible by telephone call on 020 8523 7722, or by filling in the complaint form. The time limit for making a complaint is within 12 months of the events occurring or of you becoming aware of the matter complained about.
Complaints should be addressed to the practice manager. Alternatively, you may ask for a face-to-face or telephone appointment in order to discuss your concerns further. Our practice manager will explain the complaints procedure to you and will make sure that your concerns are dealt with promptly. It will be a great help if you are as specific as possible about your complaint.
What we will do
We will acknowledge your complaint within three working days and contact you to agree how best to deal with it, and a reasonable timescale for doing so.
When we look into your complaint, we shall aim to:
- Find out what happened, what went wrong and why?
- Identify what we can do to make sure the problem does not happen again
Complaining on behalf of someone else
Please note that we keep strictly to the rules of the Data Protection Act 2018 and medical confidentiality. If you are complaining on behalf of someone else, we have to know that you have their permission to do so. We will require a note signed by the person concerned, giving consent for us to discuss with you aspects of their medical records, unless they are incapable (because of illness) of doing so.
Complaining to NHS England
We hope that, if you have a problem, you will use our practice complaints procedure. We believe this will give us the best chance of putting right whatever has gone wrong and an opportunity to improve our practice.
Complaining to the Ombudsman
If you remain dissatisfied after we (or NHS England) have dealt with your complaint you can complain direct to the Health Service Ombudsman.
Person responsible for review of this protocol: Practice Manager referred to in this instances as the Complaints Manager
- Date of last review: Apr 2022
- Date of next review: Apr 2023
The protocol sets out the approach of The Ridgeway Surgery to the handling of complaints.
This Protocol is relevant to all employers and anyone who works at The Ridgeway Surgery, including non-clinical staff. Individuals trainig and visitors/observers on the premises must also adhere to this.
This protocol will be reviewed annually to ensure that it remains effective and relevant.
Importance of having a complaints procedure
In spite of the efforts of all staff, it is likely that a complaint will be made by a patient at some point. To reduce the anxiety and apprehension for both patients and staff, it is crucial to have a prodecude for handling complaints.
How complaints can be made
Complaints may be received in writing or orally. 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 patient.
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 themselves.
When a complaint is made on behalf of a child, there must be reasonable grounds for the complaint being made by the representative rather than the child and the complaint must be being made in the best interests of the child. If this is not the case, then written notification of the decision not to investigate the complaint must be sent to the representative.
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 practice as to whether to investigate the matter.
Complaints should normally be resolved within 6 months. The practice standard will be 4 weeks for a response.
The Complaints Manager or lead GP has the discretion to extend the time limits if the complainant has good reason for not making the complaint sooner, or where it is still possible to properly investigate the complaint despite extended delay.
When considering an extension to the time limit it is important that the Complaints Manager or the GP 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. These factors may be considered as suitable reason for declining a time limit extension.
Persons responsible for handling complaints
Responsible Person: The Complaints Manager is The Practice Manager who 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 Complaints Manager is responsible for the handling and investigation of complaints.
Initial handling of complaints
- When a patient wishes to make an oral complaint then the Complaints Manager is to arrange to speak to the complainant in private (via the telephone or face-to-face) to assess the complaint. Complaints Manager will acknowledge receipt of complaint (via the telephone or text message) within 3 working days.
- The complaint should be resolved at this meeting/phone call if possible. If the complaint is resolved then it should be recorded in the complaints log 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. The written complaint is to be recorded in the complaints log.
- The Complaints Manager 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 Complaints Manager is to discuss the complaint with the implicated member of staff to establish their recollection of events.
- If the complaint is against the Complaints Manager, then the complaint is to be referred to the Partners for investigation.
- The complainant is offered to come for a meeting to discuss the complaint with the Complaints Manager and asked if they would like to be accompanied at this meeting. If appropriate and with prior consent from the complainant the staff member complained about can be present at that meeting. Any outcomes of this meeting is recorded on Complaints Log.
- The timescale to respond (maximum of 6 months) is to be agreed with the complainant at that meeting and documented in the complaints log.
- The full response to the complainant is to be signed by the responsible person, 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.
- If the complainant is dissatisfied with the handling of the complaint then they are to be advised to contact the Health Service Ombudsman and how to do so.
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 Complaints Manager to identify any patterns that are to be reported to the Responsible Person.
The Complaints Manager will notify the Responsible Person of any concerns about a complaint leading to non-compliance. The Responsible Person will identify ways for the practice to return to compliance.
A report on complaints is to be submitted on request to Primary Care Trust (or replacement body) annually (year ending 31st March).
This report is to:
- Specify the number of complaints received;
- Specify the number of complaints which it was decided were well-founded;
- Specify the number of complaints which the practice has been informed have been referred to the Health Service Ombudsman;
- Summarise the subject matter of complaints received;
- Summarise any matters of general importance arising out of those complaints, or the way in which the complaints were handled;
- Summarise any matters where action has been or is to be taken to improve services as a consequence of those complaints.
This report is to be available to any person on request.
The practice’s arrangements for dealing with complaints and how further information about these arrangements may be obtained by patients is to be publicised by the Complaints Manager. How to contact independent advocacy services and the right of patients to approach Primary Care Trusts with complaints is also to be publicised.
When faced by an unreasonable complainant staff will take action in accordance with page 34 of the DH’s Listening, responding, improving: a guide to better customer care guidance.
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 Manager 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.
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