The Consumer Rights Act 2015 made it easier for patients to understand their rights as consumers of goods and services and to know what they can reasonably expect from any service they receive. It allows them to claim a refund, repair or replacement if the quality of their treatment is not satisfactory or the treatment is not fit for purpose or as described. So, resolving patient complaints without delay is vital for good patient relations.
Your practice systems for handling complaints alongside a team that is confident that it can deal competently with a complaining patient will help you manage complaints and feedback in a consistent way and effectively.
A lead person to manage complaints will help you ensure that your patients have the information that they need to provide feedback or complain and that all team members understand your practice procedures. If you work with an NHS contract, you must comply with the relevant timescales for acknowledging, investigating and responding to a complaint.
Key learning points
This advice should help you develop a practice protocol for receiving and managing complaints within agreed timescales and, where relevant, complying with NHS requirements. It explains:
- Who should manage complaints within the practice
- The information that you must have available to make it easy for your patients to give feedback or complain
- What you should include in your practice complaints policy to ensure that you are patient-focussed when acknowledging, investigating and responding to
complaints, including when a complaint is unfounded
- The appeals process and signposting to appropriate bodies
- The need to keep records of all communications with the patient, your investigations and your conclusions.