- Effective complaint handling gives you the best opportunity to de-escalate the issue. If you run a GOC-registered business, you must have a clear complaints protocol and make patients aware of their channels of complaint.262
- Feedback and complaints can be an opportunity to improve your service. You should use them to see how you can improve the services that you offer, and share lessons learnt from them.
- You should investigate feedback which gives rise to cause for concern as though it were a complaint.
- You should acknowledge a formal complaint within three working days in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and within two working days in Wales.263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268, 269
- If you provide NHS services, you must have a complaints procedure that you make available to patients.262, 230, 231, 232 A complaint that is made orally and is dealt with to the complainant’s satisfaction by the end of the next working day is not considered a complaint for this purpose. You should extend this procedure to private patients.
- You should make sure your complaints procedure:
- is clearly displayed to patients
- is easy for patients to use, and available in a format that they can understand
- enables you to deal with complaints quickly and sensitively
- allows you to investigate complaints in a full and fair way
- maintains patient confidentiality
- gives clear outcomes for the patient
- contributes information to practice management and improvements.
- If a patient makes a complaint you are likely to need to access their record and use identifiable information. You should make patients aware of who will see information about them and your safeguards for minimising risks to confidentiality.
- You should keep a written log of complaints in order to monitor your performance in handling complaints and to identify possible areas for improvement.
- If the complaint relates to clinical care, you should keep a record of the patient complaint in the patient record.
- You should ensure that other members of the team for whom you are responsible:
- are familiar with the complaints procedure
- know how to deal with patients’ concerns and complaints
- know how to apologise and offer practical solutions.
262 General Optical Council (2019) Standards for Optical Businesses, para 2.1.4 [Accessed 20 Nov 2020]
263 LOCSU. Quality in Optometry (England) [Accessed 20 Nov 2020]
264 The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 SI 309
265 HSC Business Services Organisation: complaints information [Accessed 20 Nov 2020]
266 NHS Scotland (2017) Complaints handling procedure [Accessed 20 Nov2020]
267 The Patient Rights (Complaints Procedure and Consequential Provisions)(Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2016 SSI 401 [Accessed 20 Nov 2020]
268 Wales: Putting Things Right: Guidance on dealing with concerns about the NHS from 1 April 2011 [Accessed 20 Nov 2020]
269 National Health Service (Concerns, Complaints and Redress Arrangements)(Wales) Regulations 2011, SI704(W.108) [Accessed 3 Dec 2020]