If you have a complaint or concern about the service you have received from the doctors or staff working for this practice, you are entitled to ask for an explanation. We do operate an in-house complaints procedure to deal with any complaints we receive.
A complaint is “an expression of dissatisfaction that requires a response,” (HSC Complaints Procedure, April 2009)
How to make a Complaint
We hope that most problems can be sorted out easily and quickly, often at the time they arise and with the person concerned. If your problem cannot be sorted out this way and you wish to make a complaint, please let us know as soon as possible.
If you cannot reach an agreement or find it hard to approach a member of staff, then please ask to speak to our Practice Manager, Mrs Julie Higginbottom, or one of the GP Partners. They will ensure that your complaint is investigated thoroughly and as quickly as possible.
Complaints can be made in writing, in person or via telephone. However, regardless of the manner in which you submit your complaint, it will be treated seriously and treated in confidence.
A copy of our complaint form can be obtained from reception staff. If you are unable to complete the form, please ask a member of staff for assistance.
All complaints are fully investigated with the relevant members of staff concerned. It may be necessary for us to contact you directly if further information is required.
When the complaint is fully investigated and concluded a letter will be sent to the complainant with the full details. We will endeavour to find out what happened and what went wrong; enable you to discuss the problem with those concerned; ensure you receive an explanation of the sequence of events leading to the complaint; where appropriate, ensure you receive an apology and identify what we can do to ensure the problem does not happen again.
In the case of a written complaint, it will be acknowledged within 3 working days of receipt and after investigation we will write to you within 10 days working days advising of our findings and any changes which have been made to avoid a recurrence of the problem. If we are unable to meet this timescale we will update you accordingly.
Whilst you should make your complaint as soon as possible after the event we can consider complaints made within six months of the date of discovering the problem, provided this is within twelve months of the incident. If it is clearly unreasonable in the circumstances to make a complaint earlier and where it is still possible to investigate the facts of the case we can consider extending this time limit.
Complaining on behalf of someone else
Please note that we keep strictly to the rules of medical confidentially. If you are complaining on behalf of someone else, we have to know that you have his or her permission to do so. A note signed by the person concerned and witnessed by the patient will be needed (except where the patient is a minor and the person concerned has parental responsibilities). If this is not possible the next of kin should submit the complaint.
The Health and Social Care Board
We hope that if you have a problem, you will make use of our Practice Complaints Procedure. We believe this will provide the best chance of putting right whatever has gone wrong and an opportunity to improve our practice. However, this does not affect your right to approach the Health and Social Care Board, (the Board) if you feel that you cannot raise your complaint with us or you are dissatisfied with the result of our investigation.
Whilst the Board are unable to investigate complaints, they can act as an ‘honest broker’ or intermediary to assist in the resolution of concerns. Their contact details are;
Complaints Office, Health and Social Care Board HQ 12-22 Linenhall Street, Belfast BT2 8BS,
Tel: 028 95363893
In accordance with the HSC Complaints Procedure, anonymised copies of all written complaints received and responded to are forwarded to the Board for monitoring purposes. If you do not wish for your complaints correspondence to be shared with the Board, please let us know.
The Patient and Client Council
The Patient and Client Council offer support for complainants, and can act as your advocate. They have local offices in Ballymena, Craigavon and Omagh. You can contact them at:
The Patient and Client Council
2nd Floor, Centre House
79 Chichester Street
Freephone: 0800 917 0222
The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
If you remain unhappy with the outcome, you can refer your complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) by contacting:
Tel: freephone 0800 34 34 24
If you choose to do so, this should be within six months of receiving the final response from the Practice. Please note, that the Ombudsman will not normally accept a complaint, before local resolution has been exhausted.
This in-house complaints procedure does not deal with matters of legal liability or compensation.
If you have any further comments or questions regarding the complaints procedure, please refer them to Mrs Julie Higginbottom, (Practice Manager).