Sample letter of response to formal complaint under the practice-based
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.
The investigation into your complaint was conducted by X. It involved a review of
your records and discussions with the healthcare professional (named)
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
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
made you feel distressed and I wish to offer my sincere apologies that this was
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
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
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
Name and title (usually Practice Manager or Senior Partner)
This template complies with the health and social care complaints regulations
issued in 2009 and good practice guidelines. It contains the following key
• It provides information as to how the complaint was investigated and by
• 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
And ultimately, referral to the Health Service Ombudsman for independent
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.
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.