Feedback & Complaints Procedure

Policy Statement:

In this Practice we seek to provide a quality service and we are committed to using the information gathered through patient feedback and complaints to continually improve the service. We value feedback about our service and recognise the right of our patients to pay us a compliment – suggest an improvement in our service or make a complaint. Where dissatisfaction occurs, the Practice wishes to know. The purpose of this document is to outline the Policy and Procedure for recording, dealing with and reporting on, patient feedback and complaints. We consider that the process of complaining should be as straightforward as possible. Our Complaints Policy reflects the recommendations from the Francis Report (2013)

Aim of the Policy:

We learn from every mistake that we make and we respond to patients’ concerns in a caring and sensitive way and we promise to:

  • Provide an accessible, straightforward procedure for those wishing to make a comment, suggestion and/or a complaint
  • Use plain language in all communication
  • Provide guidance which has emphasis on the early resolution of complaints
  • Provide a procedure which ensures all patients are treated with the same open fair approach
  • Set and monitor targets for responding to feedback
  • Keep patients informed when we cannot send them a response within our target time
  • Inform patients about their rights to escalate a complaint when dissatisfied with our response.
  • Review each piece of feedback carefully to establish what lessons we can learn and if we can improve our services as a result.

Policy:

This Policy and Procedure for dealing with patient feedback and complaints shall be applicable to all services provided by the Practice. Patient feedback is essential to the improvement of services and although the system is primarily about dealing with complaints, it will also be used to record suggestions and compliments.

How do we publicise this Policy?

We will publicise this Policy by making information available:

How do we promote equality of access?

We are committed to making sure that everyone has equal access to this Policy. To achieve this we will:

  • Communicate with patients in an open and honest way
  • Promote the Policy so that patients understand it and are confident to use it.
  • Train our employees to be sensitive to the needs of people from different cultures and communities.
  • Treat people with respect and be open to ideas about how we can make access easier.

Definition

What is a compliment?

A compliment is when a patient gives us feedback about how we exceeded expectations in delivering the service or how an employee has gone the ‘extra mile’ to serve them

  • We will record details and acknowledge receipt within 3 working days.
  • The employee concerned will be written to by the Practice Manager to thank them for the service provided to the patient.

What is a suggestion?

A suggestion is when a patient comments on how we can improve our service.

  • Record details and acknowledge receipt within 3 working days
  • Send a response to the patient within 10 working days that either explains how we will implement the suggestion or we will investigate it further, or why we are unable to implement the suggestion.
  • Keep the patient informed about any delays

What is a complaint?

A complaint is ‘an expression of dissatisfaction’ about:

  • The standard of service and/or its delivery
  • Action or lack of action by the Practice or its employees
  • Complaints may be verbal, written or anonymous

What should not be treated as a complaint?

  • Requests for a service (although a request for a service may turn into a complaint if not dealt within a reasonable period of time)
  • Requests for information or explanation of the practice’s Policy and Procedure

How complaints are made?

In many cases complaints are made verbally to front line employees. The Practice Manager will ensure that all employees are trained and confident in dealing with comments, suggestions and complaints expressed by patients.

An individual or Practice may make a complaint directly to the Principle of the Practice and give the Practice a reasonable opportunity to respond. Any complaints from an individual or Practice shall then be investigated in keeping with this procedure.

In responding to the complaint the Practice will explain to the patient that they have the right to make a written complaint to the following if they are dissatisfied with the Practice’s response:

NHS England
PO Box 16738
Redditch
B97 9PT

By email to: england.contactus@nhs.net
If you are making a complaint please state: ‘For the attention of the complaints team’ in the subject line.

By telephone: 0300 311 22 33

British Sign Language (BSL): If you use BSL, you can to talk to us via a video call to a BSL interpreter. Visit NHS England’s BSL Service.

For complaints about private treatment:

Dental Complaints Service, Stephenson House, 2 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon CR0 6BA (Telephone: 08456 120 540)

General Dental Council, 37 Wimpole Street, London, W1M 8DQ Our opening hours are: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, except Wednesdays when we open at the later time of 9.30am.

Redress

Redress should be appropriate to the failure in service and should, where possible, be the redress the person wants.

The essential elements include:

  • An apology
  • An explanation
  • An assurance that the same thing will not happen again
  • Action taken to put things right
  • Employees should be careful not to promise action or redress which they may not be able to deliver.

Responsibilities

Employees are responsible for their own customer service. The Practice Manager ensures that all employees that may have to deal with complaints/comments receive both adequate and appropriate training.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Helping patients, when required, to clarify their complaint
  • Recording complaints

Practice Manager

The Practice Manager has responsibility for the service delivered. Where the complaint is about an employee, the complaint will be investigated thoroughly as a priority and the patient will be advised of the outcome within the defined timescale.

The Practice Manager shall also be responsible for ensuring that actions taken are recorded and if necessary that a file containing all relevant working papers is prepared on each complaint investigated.

Making information available

Employees are responsible for ensuring that information on how to give feedback or make a complaint is available to patients.

The ‘How to make a complaint’ leaflet and poster is prominently displayed in the Practice Reception Area. Employees will ensure that the appropriate forms on which patients can quickly and easily indicate their level of satisfaction with the service are available to all our patients.

Monitoring and Management Reporting

Monitoring Progress

The Practice Manager will monitor progress on complaints under investigation.

Internal Audit

The Practice Manager will audit the system annually and will confirm that the system is working effectively and efficiently.

The Practice Manager may carry out random post/telephone checks with a percentage of patients to test patient satisfaction with the way in which complaints have been handled and resolved. If sources of dissatisfaction are identified corrective action will be taken within available resources.

What action can we take to put things right when things go wrong?

If we make a mistake, we will apologise and try to take some practical action to put things right. We may ask the patient to suggest what they would like us to do.

We will also try to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again. We may decide that one or more of the following can be done to put things right:

  • Provide a change of service to the patient
  • Provide an explanation or information to the patient
  • Review patient literature
  • Review the Policy and Procedure
  • Arrange training or guidance for employees
  • Take employee action

Customer Feedback and Complaints – Operating Procedure

Compliment, suggestion or complaint procedure:

Anyone receiving a compliment, suggestion, or complaint whether verbal or written will record the details on the compliments, suggestions, complaints log. (Log)

All complaints, however they are received, shall be handled with sensitivity and confidentiality. (See Appendix A – Code of Practice). Anonymous complaints should be recorded.

Oral Complaints:

  • All oral complaints, no matter how seemingly unimportant, will be taken seriously
  • Employees who receive an oral complaint will seek to solve the problem immediately.
  • If employees cannot solve the problem immediately they will offer to get the Practice Manager to deal with the problem.
  • All contact with the patient will be polite, courteous and sympathetic. There is nothing to be gained by employees adopting a defensive or aggressive attitude.
  • At all times employees will remain calm and respectful.
  • Employees should not accept blame, make excuses or blame other employees.
  • If the complaint is being made on behalf of an individual by an advocate it must first be verified that the person has permission to speak for the individual and is their nominated representative.
  • After talking the problem through, a course of action to resolve the complaint will be suggested. If this action is acceptable to all concerned it will be implemented and recorded.
  • If the suggested plan of action is not acceptable to the patient the patient will be given the opportunity to put their complaint in writing.
  • In both cases details of the complaints will be recorded in the patient’s file and logged on the Log.

Serious or written complaints:

Preliminary steps:

  • When a complaint is received in writing it will be recorded in the Log and an acknowledgement letter will be sent within two working days.
  • If necessary further details are obtained from the patient. If the complaint is being made on behalf of an individual by a representative it must first be verified that the person has permission to speak on behalf of the patient.
  • If the complaint raises potentially serious matters, advice may be sought from a legal advisor. If legal action is taken at this stage any investigation by the Practice under the complaint’s procedure will cease immediately.
  • If the patient is not prepared to have the investigation conducted by the Practice they will be advised to contact and be given the relevant contact details.

Investigation of the complaint by the Practice:

  • Immediately on receipt of the complaint the Practice will launch an investigation and within 28 days the Practice will, under normal circumstances be in a position to provide a full explanation to the patient, either in writing or by arranging a meeting with the individuals concerned.
  • If the issues are too complex to complete the investigation within 28 days, the patient will be
    informed of any delays.

Meeting:

  • If a meeting is arranged the patient will be advised that they may if they wish bring a friend or relative or a representative such as an advocate
  • At the meeting a detailed explanation of the results of the investigation will be given and also an apology if it is deemed appropriate (apologising for what has happened need not be an admission of liability).
  • Such a meeting gives the Practice the opportunity to show the patient that the matter has been taken seriously and has been thoroughly investigated.

Follow-up action:

  • After the meeting, or if the patient does not want a meeting, a written account of the investigation and outcome
  • will be sent to the patient.
  • The outcome of the investigation will be recorded in the Log and patients’ complaints file.
  • The Practice will discuss complaints and their outcome at formal quarterly management meetings as part of the continual improvement process.
  • Any areas of improvement identified will be dealt with immediately to prevent a re-occurrence.
  • Systems or procedures will be reviewed and amended as required and any corrective action take will be monitored to ensure its effectiveness.
  • The Practice will include the complaint in its Annual NHS Complaints Report at the end of the current financial year.

Employment:

All employees are issued with a copy of this Policy and are briefed on its content during the induction process. Knowledge of this Policy is reinforced in feedback during supervisions or appraisals and following quality audits.

The Practice not later than January 2018 will review this policy.

Training:

Comments, suggestions and complaint training – (http://www.prodentalcpd.com/courses.php) is included in the induction for all new employees. Updating and knowledge testing is conducted at least annually through http://www.prodentalcpd.com/courses.php Complaints is a set Agenda Item for all Practice Meetings

Course Aims

  • To understand why patients complain
  • To review how to handle complaints
  • To understand your legal obligations when dealing with a complaint

Review:

This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure it is being effectively implemented and no later than January 2018.

Signed: ________________________

Date: January 2017

Policy review date: January 2018

Appendix A – Code of Practice when dealing with complaints – made in person or by telephone.

Be courteous and calm. Remember that even if the complaint seems frivolous or does not prove to be justified, the complainant perceives it as being justified.

Remember that all complaints must be dealt with in confidence. If dealing with a complainant in person, take the customer aside (to another room if possible) so that you have privacy and time to discuss the complaints.

Make sure that you enter the full details of the complaint and complainant into the customer electronic file including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Daytime telephone number/fax/e-mail address
  • Details of complaint

Check all the information back with the complainant to make sure that you have understood the nature of the complaint and have their personal details recorded correctly.

If you can resolve the complaint on the spot to the customer’s satisfaction, do so.

Advise the complainant of who to contact if they are not satisfied with the response received and give them the contact number etc.

If the complainant becomes aggressive and you have some fears for your personal safety or simply do not feel you can handle the situation effectively, call in the Operations Manager.

If you have to pass on details of a complaint to another person for investigation, do so promptly so that the appropriate targets for responding to complaints can be met.

Appendix B – Responding to complaints in Writing Guidelines

Your response letter should contain:

Thanks – thank the complainant for bringing the matter to your attention.

  • An apology – apologise for the fact that the problem has occurred (or has been perceived to have occurred).
  • An explanation – give a limited explanation of why the problem arose.
  • Action taken – tell the complainant what is being done to rectify the situation.
  • An assurance – assure the complainant that the problem will hopefully not re-occur and indicate what is being done to ensure that it will not re-occur.
  • If possible show the complainant how their feedback has improved the service for all customers.
  • Further correspondence – advise the complainant on who they should contact if they want further information regarding their complaint or if they are not satisfied with the reasons they have received.

Make sure that your letter is in plain English and free from jargon. Use employees names and titles so that the complainant knows whom to contact if necessary.

All customers are issued with a copy of this Policy.