Complaints

We make every effort to give the best service possible to everyone who attends our Practice.

Our practice procedure is not able to deal with questions of legal liability or compensation. We hope you will use it to allow us to look into and, if necessary, correct any problems that you have identified, or mistakes that have been made. If you use this procedure it will not affect  your right to complain to the Health Board.

However, we are aware that things can go wrong, resulting in a patient feeling that they have a genuine cause for complaint. If this is so, we would like the matter to be settled as quickly, and as amicably, as possible.

To have your complaint investigated, you need to complain within 12 months of the event happening, or as soon as you first become aware of the issue you want to complain about.

The time limit can be extended in special circumstances.

Interpreting Service

We can arrange for a meeting with the Practice Manager and an Interpreter for any patient whose first language is not English and needs help with their complaint.

How to make a compliment or complaint

Whether you are happy or unhappy with the care and treatment that you have received, please get in touch and let us know your views.

Receiving compliments and complaints is important to ensuring good quality local healthcare in our Practice – helping us to find out more about what we’re getting right and what we can improve.

We hope this will help you to make your feelings and experiences known to the appropriate people. Should you have a complaint we hope this page will give you more information about what to do, who to contact and what happens next.

How do I raise a concern / informal complaint?

You can speak to any member of staff initially with your complaint. This gives you the opportunity to resolve any concern you may have without it going through a formal process.

Most complaints are best resolved within the practice and these should be made via the Practice Manager. 

In General

If you have a complaint to make, you can either contact the Practice Manager or ask the Receptionist for a copy of our Complaints Procedure. We will endeavour to:

  1. acknowledge any letter or Complaints Form within 3 working days of receiving it.
  2. deal with the matter as promptly as possible – usually within 20 working days – dependent on the nature of the complaint.

Who can complain

  • Complainants may be current or former patients, or their nominated or elected representatives (who have been given consent to act on the patients behalf).
  • Patients over the age of 16 whose mental capacity is unimpaired should normally complain themselves or authorise someone to bring a complaint on their behalf.
  • Children under the age of 16 can also make their own complaint, if they’re able to do so.

If a patient lacks capacity to make decisions, their representative must be able to demonstrate sufficient interest in the patient’s welfare and be an appropriate person to act on their behalf. This could be a partner, relative or someone appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 with lasting power of attorney.

Appropriate person

In certain circumstances, we need to check that a representative is the appropriate person to make a complaint.

  • For example, if the complaint involves a child, we must satisfy ourselves that there are reasonable grounds for the representative to complain, rather than the child concerned.
  • If the patient is a child or a patient who lacks capacity, we must also be satisfied that the representative is acting in the patient’s best interests.

If we are not satisfied that the representative is an appropriate person we will not consider the complaint, and will give the representative the reasons for our decision in writing.

Time limits

A complaint must be made within 12 months, either from the date of the incident or from when the complainant first knew about it.

The regulations state that a responsible body should only consider a complaint after this time limit if:

  • the complainant has good reason for doing so, and
  • it’s still possible to investigate the complaint fairly and effectively, despite the delay.

Complaining on behalf of someone else

We keep strictly to the rules of medical confidentiality. If you are not the patient, but are complaining on their behalf, you must have their permission to do so. A Letter of Authority signed by the person concerned will be required, unless they are incapable (because of illness or infirmity) of providing this. A Third Party Consent Form must then be completed; this can be requested from Reception. Once this Form is completed we can then proceed with the complaint.

Procedure

We have a two stage complaints procedure. We will always try to deal with your complaint quickly however if it is clear that the matter will need a detailed investigation, we will notify you and then keep you updated on our progress.

Stage one – Early, local resolution

  • We will try to resolve your complaint within five working days if possible.
  • If you are dissatisfied with our response, you can ask us to escalate your complaint to Stage Two.

Stage Two – Investigation

  • We will look at your complaint at this stage if you are dissatisfied with our response at Stage One.
  • We also escalate some complaints straight to this stage, if it is clear that they are complex or need detailed investigation.
  • We will acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days and we will give you our decision as soon as possible. This will be no more that 20 working days unless there is clearly a good reason for needing more time to respond.

Your Rights

We hope that, if you have a problem, you will make use of our practice complaints procedure as we believe this will provide the best opportunity of putting right whatever has gone wrong. This however, does not affect your right to approach your Health and Social Services Board, if you feel you cannot raise your complaint with us or are dissatisfied with the result of our investigation. You may contact the Board’s Complaints Officer or the Ombudsman:

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Progressive House33 Wellington Place
Belfast, BT1 6HN

Opening Hours: 9.00am – 5.00pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays)

  • Telephone: 02890 233821
  • Text Phone: 02890 897789
  • Freephone: 0800 34 34 24
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Freepost: Freepost NIPSO

Confidentiality

All complaints will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Where the investigation of the complaint requires consideration of the patient’s medical records, we will 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.

We keep a record of all complaints and copies of all correspondence relating to complaints, but such records will be kept separate from patients’ medical records.

Statistics and reporting

The Practice must submit to the local primary care organisation periodically/at agreed intervals details of the number of complaints received and actioned.