A Guide for GPs in Lancashire & Cumbria

Getting a complaint can be as traumatic for a GP as it was for a patient who had cause to complain following a negative experience. Undoubtedly some complaints are vexatious but there are always things to learn and reflect on from patient feedback.

Practices should have a Complaints Policy which is on display to patients, and we believe practices with insight will welcome an informal approach from patients with their concerns rather than something being formalised.

There are regulations around the handling of complaints so it is important to follow the procedure. You should acknowledge the complaint within three working days but you should also try to ask the complainant how they would like the complaint handling. Often just responding in writing is not the best way to resolve something.

These are the 6 golden rules of complaint handling:

  1. Answer the question- make sure you clearly address the points being raised
  2. Don’t remove patients from the list because they complain
  3. Take on board what the patient is saying-there is usually something to learn/reflect on/change- and apologise where appropriate.
  4. Discuss with Appraiser
  5. Make sure the complaint is answered in such a way so as to avoid it being escalated to the next level
  6. Share it with a trusted colleague/partner/LMC – you are not alone- you are not the only one.

If the complaint is of a serious nature, for example, alleging medical negligence you should contact your medical defence body. If it is a more routine matter then the LMC office is more than happy to help and has considerable experience in supporting GPs in dealing with complaints. We can help you draft a response, or facilitate a meeting with the complainant, but we will offer continuing support.

If a complaint cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant then they have the option to approach the Parliamentary & Healthcare Ombudsman, who will review the case.

Should you need any assistance in dealing with a complaint, please do not hesitate to contact the LMC office.

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