Patient Information - Independent Health Group - England

Complaints Policy


IHG wants patients and carers to feel satisfied with the care and attention you received during your visit / treatment. We also want to continually improve the services we provide, and if patients tell us when things did not work out as they expected it will help IHG to learn lessons and to do things differently. IHG is committed to ensuring that concerns and complaints from people using its services are acknowledged, responded to and that the organisation learns from them.

Complaint: A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction requiring a response, communicated verbally, electronically, or in writing. Complaints may also include requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), Data Protection Act (1998) or other relevant legislation.

Concerns and enquirers: A concern or enquiry is a problem raised that can be resolved / responded to straight away, (by the end of the next working day). These are not reported as complaints and fall outside the complaints arrangements.

Unreasonable or Persistent Complainant: Every effort must be made to resolve a complaint before someone can be described as unreasonable. A complainant who displays threatening or abusive behaviour or language (whether verbal or written), that causes staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused and/or continues to contact IHGs with unreasonable demands following a complaint investigation, may be considered an unreasonable or persistent complainant. Unreasonable demands can include seeking excessive amounts of information, demanding an unrealistic nature or scale of service, or seeking to prolong contact with IHG by continually raising new issues throughout an investigation. The Director will make the decision regarding when a complainant is making unreasonable demands.

Maintaining confidentiality is essential and security of data relating to individuals must be protected in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998). No confidential information relating to complaints will be disclosed to any third party unless IHG has the patient’s consent or some other lawful authority to do so. Anonymised information arising from complaints may be shared with other agencies.

All staff are responsible for working to resolve concerns raised by patients, those accompanying patients, and others within the local working environment.

Prompt action to resolve concerns can prevent them escalating into more serious complaints. Where a complainant is reporting a poor experience of IHG, it is appropriate for the person receiving the complaint to apologise on behalf of IHG. Apologies and explanations of adverse events do not alone constitute an admission of liability. Concerns and issues are problems that are raised at the time and staff are able to resolve them by the end of the next working day or earlier.

Staff must:

• Ensure that they take time to listen and ensure they fully understand the concerns, this may mean asking for clarification where elements are unclear.

• Reassure the user that complaints are welcome as a means of enabling the service to improve.

• Respond to the issues raised or refer the complainant to someone who can assist them further.

• Contact their Line Manager and/or Registered Manager if any issue is serious or cannot be resolved by the end of the next working day.

• The manner used to respond to concerns must never be perfunctory, curt or negative. Care must be taken over the messages sent out in the first interaction as this will set the tone and often influence the likelihood of dealing with the issue and looking to repair the relationship.

When a concern/enquiry is made, staff must ensure that their line manager is informed. It is the responsibility of Line Managers to note details of issues and concerns that are raised and resolved for discussion in team meetings.

A complaint can be made in writing, electronically, or verbally. Any member of staff receiving a complaint in person should document the details on an Incident Form and contact their Line Manager and/or Registered Manager immediately. The Registered Manager or the Director.

• Will acknowledge the complaint in writing within 2 working days. A telephone call may be made first depending on the nature of the complaint.

• Investigate the issues raised by the complaint

• Provide a full written response and explanation within one month, providing where necessary, an action plan for any ongoing investigation.

• Do everything possible to resolve the complaint to the patient’s satisfaction – this may involve a meeting with the patient / carer or may involve mediation

• Reach an agreement with the patient if more time is needed Learn from the complaint and make appropriate changes to the service (anonymised information about the complaint may be used for staff training)

• If a patient is not satisfied with the outcomes they will be provided with details of the next steps to take.

The investigating officer (usually IHG Registered Manager) will consider each complaint fairly and with an open mind, and may arrange to meet face to face with the complainant if necessary. If the complainant is unhappy with the decision of the investigation they will be informed of how the complaint can be escalated. In the possible likelihood of legal action, IHG may seek advice from their own legal/professional organisations.

When a complaint is made to IHG that includes issues about other providers, the complaint must be acknowledged and a way forward agreed with the user. The user’s permission must be sought before forwarding the complaint to the other organisation(s) for investigation. IHG will co-operate with any other providers that approach IHG in relation to issues about our services which may be mentioned in any complaint made to that organisation.

IHG will ensure that appropriate action is taken to review procedures, learn lessons and improve quality as a result of a complaint. This will be done in the first instance by completing the complaint action plan.

IHG will provide clear information, displayed prominently in each centre, to service users, their carers and representatives, and to the public on how to make a complaint or to provide feedback and on how to contact their Local Healthwatch; and ensure that this information informs service users, their carers and representatives, of their legal rights under the NHS Constitution, how they can access independent support to help make a complaint, and how they can take their complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman should they remain unsatisfied with the handling of their complaint by IHG.