Appendix B Sample letter of response to formal complaint under the practice-based complaints procedure Date Dear Re : Your complaint about care provided to X by Y Introduction (NB – do not include these section headings in the letter) Further to our recent discussion / correspondence (as appropriate) I am pleased to advise that I/we have now completed my/our investigation into your complaint about X and I am pleased to offer the following response. However before I do so, may I take this opportunity to say how sorry I am that you have felt the need to make a complaint. This practice aims to provide the highest standard of care to local people. Complaints are always treated seriously and used as an opportunity to learn and improve services. Investigation The investigation into your complaint was conducted by X. It involved a review of your records and discussions with the healthcare professional (named) concerned. Your letter contained X main issues of complaint, which I would now like to address in turn. Firstly, you felt unhappy with X. (for example) Having carefully considered this aspect of your complaint, it is my view that this could have been handled better by the practice. I have therefore arranged for X to take place to put in place improvements and prevent a recurrence. Secondly, you complained that X. Having reviewed this issue, I have concluded that practice staff acted in a reasonable way in X. However I appreciate that the action of the receptionist Appendix B made you feel distressed and I wish to offer my sincere apologies that this was the case. In conclusion, I have decided to uphold the aspect of your complaint that concerned X and to put in place the following action X. I shall write to you again in three months to let you know how we have progressed in implementing this improvement. I have been unable to uphold the aspect of your complaint that concerned X. I am sorry that this may have been disappointing for you but I hope that you feel satisfied with the explanation I have given and the process I followed whilst investigating your complaint. I hope you feel satisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled by the practice. However should you wish to discuss any aspect of this complaint further, please do not hesitate to contact me on X. I will be happy to arrange a meeting to discuss your complaint with myself and the doctors if that would be helpful. I am also aware that your letter contained many issues and if you feel I have in some may omitted or misinterpreted any of your concerns, please advise me and I will arrange for a further investigation to be carried out. You may also contact the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) or the local PCT as per my previous letter if you remain dissatisfied and they will be able to advise you on further options to work to resolve your complaint if you remain dissatisfied. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. Yours sincerely Name and title (usually Practice Manager or Senior Partner) Appendix B Explanatory Notes This template complies with the health and social care complaints regulations issued in 2009 and good practice guidelines. It contains the following key elements : • It provides information as to how the complaint was investigated and by whom. • Each issue is addressed in turn in a systematic manner. • Where the complaint is upheld, there is a clear indication of remedial action the practice proposes to take and a commitment to feed back progress to the complainant on an appropriate timescale. • Where the complaint is not upheld, there is an explanation as to why this conclusion was reached and an acknowledgement of the distress and disappointment this may cause • There is a recognition that the investigating manager may have not accurately interpreted the issues that are key to the complainant, or indeed that the complainant may not have expressed these issues sufficiently clearly, with a commitment to investigate any outstanding issues as appropriate • The complainant is given a named contact in the practice to speak with if they remain dissatisfied and the offer of a face-to-face meeting. • The letter reminds complainants of the support available from ICAS and the PCT Complaints Team should they wish to access it. NB – clearly the named contact must have a clear understanding of the NHS complaints process and options to work to resolve complainants that remain unresolved after the initial letters, i.e., A meeting with the complainant and practice team Involvement of a lay conciliator (accessed via the PCT Complaints Team) A further exchange of written correspondence to resolve any outstanding issues And ultimately, referral to the Health Service Ombudsman for independent review. The new complaints system emphasizes the importance of exploring all avenues for local resolution. However a small number of cases may not be able to be resolved in this way. Appendix B When this point has been reached is a judgement call for the investigating manager and it is recommended that the decision is made in consultation with the PCT Complaints Team who may be able to suggest further options as they have not been involved with the complaint thus far in most cases. Once the decision has been taken to end local resolution, details of the right to refer the complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman should be given, together with contact details and a reminder of the support available from ICAS.
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