- You must give a helpful and honest response to anyone who complains about the services you have provided. 270
- If a patient complains about the treatment they have received, they have a right for their complaint to be heard and dealt with in a sensitive and timely manner. Doing so can help avoid the complaint escalating unnecessarily.
- You should always take the complaints of children and young people seriously. You should help them in their complaint if their rights or interests have been denied or abused, if they are unhappy with the care they have received or because they have been denied care.
- You should not discriminate against a patient who has complained. You should continue to treat them with respect and courtesy.
- You should aim to resolve informal complaints at the time they are made, within the practice. If the complaint is formal, you should:
- send the patient a written acknowledgement within three working days (two working days in Wales) of receiving their complaint and explain how the complaint will be handled, with timeframes271
- tell the patient if you cannot keep to the timeframe and why
- provide the with the name of an individual in the practice with whom they can liaise
- try to contact the patient to discuss their concerns verbally
- ask the patient what they want as an outcome
- offer the patient a face-to-face meeting to discuss their concerns. You should agree to a request by the patient to have someone with them at the meeting
- avoid being defensive when dealing with complaints
- keep the patient informed about the progress in dealing with their complaint
- deal with all the points raised in a complaint
- offer an apology, where appropriate. Giving an apology does not mean you are admitting responsibility, it is a way of showing concern and understanding
- if the patient’s complaint is justified, offer a fair solution. This may include offering to put things right at your own expense if you have made a mistake. At the end of your investigation, write to the patient explaining:
- what you have decided
- any practical solutions you can offer
- whether you are going to make any changes to your practice as a result
- if the patient wishes to take the complaint further, tell the patient that they can complain to the General Optical Council (GOC) or the Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS).
- You must keep records of the complaint, along with any relevant documents. These would include details of oral and written communication between you and the patient and a chronology of the investigation process. Any internal documents should be objective and non-judgemental.
270 General Optical Council. (2016) Standards of Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians [Accessed 3 Dec 2020]
271 The Patients Association (2013) Good practice standards for NHS complaints handling [Accessed 20 Nov 2020]