Policy & Procedure for the Management of Complaints

1. Introduction

This Policy:

  • Gives guidance on how to investigate complaints;
  • identifies key roles and responsibilities;
  • identifies the objectives for handling complaints;
  • ensures that Gatwick Audiology Ltd is compliant with Hearing Aid  Dispenser – Health & Care Professions Council, Parliamentary Health and Services Council;
  • regulations for the handling of complaints.

2. Objective
2.1 Complaints provide a valuable insight into patient’s experiences of Gatwick Audiology Ltd services and how these services can improve. They provide Gatwick Audiology Ltd with the opportunity to learn and change practice. The competent and consistent management of complaints can assist in reducing the number of disputes leading to litigation, encouraging a culture of openness between complainants and those complained against.

2.2 To provide a flexible approach towards handling individual complaints, which focuses on the needs and wishes of the people involved. To provide the fullest possible opportunity for the investigation and local resolution of the complaint as quickly as is appropriate to the circumstances.

To provide a co-ordinated handling of cross boundary complaints.

To learn and change to improve services.

2.3 Investigations will be objective, impartial and open in accordance with the  Principles of Good Complaints Handing – Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman”. Investigations will provide an explanation, usually an apology, (this isn’t necessarily admission of responsibility but an acknowledgement that the patient or complainant felt they had good cause to complain), a description of lessons learned and the identification of guidance/policy/systems requiring review and/or amendment

This will enable Gatwick Audiology Ltd to:

  • handle complaints objectively, consistently and fairly;
  • bring complaints to a rapid and satisfactory conclusion;
  • maintain a constructive and non-punitive approach;
  • act proportionately;
  • maintain a positive relationship with the complainant;
  •  identify and implement changes/improvements in practice/services.

3. Definitions

3.1 A complaint can be defined as “an expression of dissatisfaction, grievance and/or injustice requiring a response.

4. Who May Complain

A complaint may be made by:

4.1 Existing or former patients using the services or facilities of Gatwick Audiology Ltd, or an individual who is affected, or likely to be affected, by the action, omission or decision of Gatwick Audiology Ltd.

4.2 A relative/significant other of the patient. If the patient is a child or is unable to put forward a complaint because of physical incapacity, lack of capacity within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 or has requested a representative to act on their behalf, then the complaint will be accepted from a elative/significant other or suitable representative body, or any person who is affected by or likely to be affected by the act, omission or decision of Gatwick Audiology Ltd, providing it is the subject of the complaint. The patient will, however, receive the written response unless his/her permission is received, authorising Gatwick Audiology Ltd to correspond with a third party. If the patient is unable to act, by reason of incapacity, consent is not needed but the Service Director receiving the complaint, will determine whether the complainant has “sufficient interest” in the patient’s welfare and is conducting the complaint in the best interests to be suitable to act as a representative. If The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist determines that a person is not suitable, a full explanation outlining the reasons for the decision must be provided.

4.3 All private and third-sector providers, supplying NHS services in England are required by law to take account of the NHS Constitution in their decisions and actions. The NHS Constitution explains your rights when it comes to making a complaint. You have the right to:      

have a complaint dealt with efficiently and have it properly investigated;

  • know the outcome of any investigation into the complaint;
  • take your complaint to the Independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you are not satisfied with the way the NHS has dealt with your complaint;
  • have a complaint dealt with efficiently and have it properly investigated;
  • make a claim for judicial review if you think you have been directly affected by an unlawful act or decision of an NHS body;
  • receive compensation where you have been harmed.

You can see a copy of the constitution on the Department of Health website at: www.dh.gov.uk.

5. Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA)

5.1 Patients who lack capacity to make particular decisions and have no one else to support them must be referred to an IMCA. In these circumstances and where there is a disagreement between the IMCA and the decision maker, then a complaint will be accepted.

6. Roles and Responsibilities

6.1 The post holder with overall responsibility for the management of complaints within Gatwick Audiology Ltd is the Business Owner and Chief Clinical Audiologist, Prince Punnoose. Patients may appeal the decision of the investigation and in these circumstances; the Business Owner will sign the written responses to complaints which have been addressed to him. 

The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist investigating the complaint will meet complainants where necessary to resolve issues of concern at the Local Resolution Stage.

6.2 The Business Manager will provide advice and support to relevant staff involved at all stages of the Complaints Procedure.

6.3 The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist will prepare reports on investigations undertaken by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, liaising with involved staff and ensuring follow-up action is taken as agreed.

6.4 The Business Manager will maintain a database of complaints information.

6.5 The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist and the Business Manager will work with colleagues, using information gained from the investigation of complaints to ensure that practices, which minimise the risk of re-occurrence, are shared and implemented across the organisation. 

6.6 The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist will evaluate adverse clinical incidents, which may lead to a complaint and ensure statements are obtained and all material evidence preserved.

The Role of Staff

6.7 Where approp riate the recipient of the complaint will ensure the immediate health care needs of the patient are met.

6.8 Consultant staff receiving written complaints will notify The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist.

6.9 Staff will often receive informal comments and suggestions, and these may include expressions of dissatisfaction. If staff receive verbal comments from patients, the person receiving the comment should establish the facts and clarify whether a complaint is being made. Staff are encouraged, to deal with verbal complaints to which they can provide an immediate response. The aim is to resolve the matter causing concern, to reassure the complainant, to learn from the complainant’s experience and to eliminate the potential for similar problems.

6.10 Where the recipient of the complaint is unable to investigate and resolve the complaint adequately or feels unable to provide the outcome that the complainant is seeking, then with the complainant’s consent, the complaint will be referred to The Business Manager and or The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist.

6.11 Some complainants may prefer to make their initial complaint to someone who has not been involved in their care. In these circumstances, they should be advised to address their complaint to Diane Buckley, Medical Secretary.

7. Time Limits

7.1 Complaints must not be made later than 12 months after the material event, or within 12 months of the date of knowledge. Those received outside this time-scale will be investigated at the discretion of The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist, taking into account the reasons for not making the complaint within the time-scale and whether it is still possible to investigate the complaint effectively and fairly.

8. Complaints and Disciplinary Procedures

8.1 If any complaint indicates a prime facie need for a referral for an investigation under Gatwick Audiology Ltd disciplinary procedures, one of the professional regulatory bodies, an independent inquiry into a serious incident under Section 84 of the NHS Act 1977 or investigation of a criminal offence, The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist.

9. Possible Claims for Negligence

9.1 Where a possible clinical negligence claim is intimated before a complaint has been resolved, The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist will consider whether by dealing with the complaint it might prejudice the potential defence of the clinical negligence claim. Where it is thought that dealing with the complaint might prejudice the legal action, resolution of the complaint will be deferred until the legal action is concluded. The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist must inform the complainant why the complaint process has been put on hold. In those circumstances where following an investigation under the complaints procedure there is a prime facie case of clinical negligence, a full explanation will be provided  and if appropriate, an apology offered to the complainant.

10. Procedures

Local Resolution

10.1 A complaint may be made by telephone, in writing or electronically. 

On receipt of a local complaint, consideration will be given by The Business Manager and or Medical Secretary to conciliation, mediation or a meeting with the complainant for the purposes of resolving the complaint.

10.2 All complaints will be acknowledged within 2 days of the date received. The complaint will be logged locally if that is the point of receipt.

The acknowledgement letter will include an offer to discuss with the complainant the manner in which the complaint is to be handled, the period within which the investigation of the complaint is likely to be completed and when the response is likely to be sent to the complainant.

10.3 Where a complaint is made orally, the acknowledgement must be accompanied by the written record.

10.4 An investigation will be initiated on the same day or next working day. A copy of the complaint, together with the original healthcare record if appropriate, will be forwarded when necessary to the relevant consultant/clinician/staff member, by The Medical Secretary, requesting a written response within 10 working days.

The Business Manager will ensure all staff clinical and relevant non-medical staff have access to the letter of complaint and healthcare records, where appropriate, to assist staff in responding to a complaint. Any staff involved in responding to the complaint including Consultant staff will aim to respond to The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist within 10 working days.

10.5 A Holding Letter will be sent to the complainant 10 working days after receipt of the complaint, should the investigation be incomplete.

10.6 A Reminder Letter will be sent to those involved with the investigation should the complaint not have been resolved within 10 working days.

If the response cannot be sent within the agreed timescale The Business Manager will notify the complainant in writing and explain the reason why. A response will thereafter be sent as soon as is reasonably practicable.

10.7 The final reply must be sent within 25 working days of the initial receipt of the letter of complaint.

Responses will include the following:

  • an explanation of how the complaint has been considered;
  • an explanation of events;
  • the conclusions reached, including any matters for which remedial action is needed;
  • an apology where appropriate;
  • confirmation as to whether Gatwick Audiology Ltd is satisfied that any action needed in consequence of the complaint has been taken or is proposed to be taken.


10.8 In the event that the complainant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the original investigation, The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist, will discuss with the complainant, the manner in which resolution can be achieved. The complainant will be offered the opportunity to have their complaint reviewed by the business. The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist will acknowledge receipt of the formal appeal within 48 hours. The Business Owner/Chief Clinical  Audiologist will respond in writing after a full review and further investigation, to the complainant within 25 working days. 

The complainant is under no obligation to accept the offer of an internal appeal and may wish to refer their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman or the Hearing Aid Dispensers – Health and Care Professions Council (see below).

10.9 Alternatively the complainant may wish to have their complaint referred directly to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

10.10 Once the formal response has been sent, it will be shared with those involved in the investigation and named in the complaint.

10.11 Complainants must not be discriminated against during or after a complaint investigation. 

10.12 Correspondence pertaining to the complaint will not be filed in the patient’s healthcare records.

Handling and Consideration of Complaints referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

10.13 The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) considers complaints made by or on behalf of people who have suffered injustice or hardship because of unsatisfactory treatment or service by the NHS or by independent health providers who have provided NHS funded treatment to the individual such as Medical Imaging Partnership.

Complainants can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman at:

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
London SW1P 4QP

Telephone: 0345 015 4033
Fax: 0300 061 4000

10.14 Our goods and services are regulated by the Hearing Aid Dispensers and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

You have the option to contact our regulator body in concerning a complaint about our required standards should you deem this appropriate.

Details about our regulatory body, for hearing aid fittings/dispensing can be found at www.hcpc-uk.org

184-186 Kennington Park Road
SE11 4BU

Telephone: 0207 582 5460

10.15 Following receipt of the PSHO’s findings and conclusions, The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist will:

  • write to the complainant within 25 working days informing of any action Gatwick Audiology Ltd is taking as a result of the PSHO’s deliberations.

 10.16 If the PSHO investigates a complaint which is not upheld and there are no substantial additional issues, Gatwick Audiology Ltd will not re-open the complaints process and will advise the complainant accordingly.

11. Complaints Recording and Computer Held


11.1 Each complaint received will be registered on a Complaints Log and for those received directly at a clinic each complaint will be registered in an online Log, after which a complaint file opened. By the end of an investigation a complaints file will include:

  • the original complaint;
  • a copy of the acknowledgement letter;
  • a copy of the memo sent to staff for investigation;
  • if appropriate a copy of a completed Incident form;
  • file note of telephone calls or discussion;
  • statements;
  • notes of meetings or discussions;
  • written response.

11.2 All files will be kept for 10 years.

12. Reporting and Monitoring

12.1 All types of complaints report must be anonymous to ensure patient/complainant confidentiality.

12.2 The complaints report will be reviewed at the Clinical Governance eetings:

  • number and subject matter of the complaint;
  • response times and extension requests;
  • outcomes;
  • lessons learned and remedial action taken;
  • PSHO reviews;
  • collaboration with external agencies.

12.3 The Business Owner/Chief Clinical Audiologist will receive an annual report on complaints handling from the Business Manager.

The report must include the following:

  • the number of complaints received;
  • the number of complaints received which were upheld or partially upheld;
  • the number of referrals to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman;
  • a summary of the subject matter, the way in which the complaints were handled and any complaints where action has been taken to improve services as a consequence.

13. References

  • The Local Authority Social Services England and NHS Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 SI No 309.
  • Explanatory Memorandum to the NHS England, Social Care, England The Local Authority Social Services and NHS Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 No 309.
  •  “The NHS Constitution”.
  • DOH “Listening, Responding, Improving – A Guide to better customer care” 2009.
  • DOH “Listening, Responding, Improving Advice Sheet 1 – Investigating Complaints” 2009.
  • DOH “Listening, Responding, Improving Advice Sheet 2 – Joint working on complaints” 2009.
  • DOH “Listening, Responding, Improving Advice Sheet 3 – Dealing with serious complaints” 2009.
  • Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman “Principles of Good Complaints Handling”.