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Have you submitted your annual complaints return yet?
Practices will have received a reminder this week to submit their complaints data return for 2014/15 by 8th July 2015. This data return monitors written General Practice (including Dental) complaints (by service area and type) received by the NHS each year and aims to support the commitment given in Equity and Excellence to improve the patient experience by listening to the public voice.
Have you analysed your return?
If any of you have submitted your return already, have you analysed how your results compare to the previous year? Has the number of written complaints you received increased or decreased? Have you changed the way in which you deal with complaints? Patients often disagree with the way the GP wants to treat their health problem, but does that mean a written complaint about it should be upheld or not? I think that the variation of reporting can have a significant impact in the data that HSCIC receives. Often the type of patient population and patient demographics dictates how one practice may compare to another similar sized practice when it comes to the number and the type of complaints they receive.
If a patient disagrees with the way a GP wants to treat their health problem, or they’re unhappy about the service provided by the practice, we try to encourage them to tell us them openly. We are often able to resolve dissatisfied patient concerns there and then, before it becomes a formal complaint. However, if you patients feel unable to do so, or they’re unhappy with the response you’ve given them, you may receive a complaint.
How to complain
I am currently reviewing our practice complaints procedure. The CQC expects patients to be able to find out how they can raise concerns or make a complaint without having to ask a member of staff. This is often because patients believe they will be treated less favourably if they make a complaint. Although we don’t like to receive any complaint, we have to accept that it has probably taken a lot for someone to be so dissatisfied they have put pen to paper. Whilst I dislike having too many information leaflets lying around in the waiting room our complaints leaflet is readily available in the hope it will encourage people to come forward, allow us to investigate their complaint quickly and be satisfied with an informal resolution to their concern.
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