Echelon Health values feedback on the quality of its services and complaints are an important source of intelligence that can help improve the client experience. Our complaint procedure supports the delivery of ‘outcome focused’ resolution for complainants, and ensures that learning from complaints informs the development of Echelon’s policies. processes and staff practise. The policy details the overarching principles for effective complaint handling and describes the key procedural stages.
As a private and independent healthcare provider, Echelon Health is not subject to the statutory requirements of the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 or within the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). However, other than where indicated, Echelon Health applies comparable principles and approaches in its complaint handling.
Making a complaint
- Echelon Health is committed to providing a high-quality independent healthcare service. However, we recognise that things can go wrong;
- This policy and procedure will be made available to our patients when they attend an assessment at Echelon Health;
- Echelon Health adopts the following definition of a complaint: ‘A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction about a service received or not received, and which requires a response’;
- Complaints can be made to any member of Echelon Health staff either verbally or in writing, and can be made by patients or their appointed representatives;
- Where a patient wishes to make a complaint whilst receiving care and treatment, the Client Liaison Manager and/or Registered Manager will endeavour to resolve the issue immediately (early resolution);
- Where a complaint is made retrospectively, it will be signposted to the relevant service within Echelon Health and duly recorded. The investigation of the complaint will be allocated to an appropriate manager within Echelon Health to ensure there is no conflict of interest;
- Patients will not be discriminated against for making a complaint and their care and treatment will not be affected in any way by registering a complaint.
Receiving and recording a complaint
- All complaints received by Echelon Health will be treated in the strictest confidence.
- All complaints, whether written or verbal, will be registered and the following details recorded:
- The date and time of receipt;
- The identity and contact details of the complainant;
- The target date for response;
- A description of the complaint subject matter and related contextual information;
- Relevant information concerning the investigation undertaken including any correspondence, documentation and the final report (with findings, conclusions and recommendations);
- Whether or not the complaint was upheld and any associated action plan.
- Where a representative acting on behalf of a patient makes a complaint, Echelon Health will seek to verify that the person or organisation in question is acting with the informed consent and authority of the patient.
- Where a complaint is made anonymously, Echelon Health will investigate as far as it reasonably can, dependent on the nature and content of the complaint.
- Complaint records will be kept separate from those relating specifically to patients and staff to ensure confidentiality and promote confidence in the credibility and integrity of the complaints process.
- All complainants will receive a written acknowledgement of their complaint within 2 working days, unless a full reply can be sent within 5 working days.
- Echelon Health will offer to meet with the complainant in order to discuss the manner in which the complaint is to be handled and how the issue(s) might be resolved. At this meeting, the following matters will be explored with the complainant:
- Any particular personal needs they may have (e.g. language, disability or other potential impediment to their full engagement in the process);
- How they wish to be addressed (e.g. Miss, Ms, Mrs, Mr or other title, or by first name or other chosen alternative);
- The option to have a representative to support them through the complaints process;
- How the person wishes to be kept informed (e.g. by letter, email, text, telephone or through an agreed representative or advocate);
- Consent to access (where required and appropriate) their healthcare records for the purposes of investigating the complaint;
- What they are seeking as a desired outcome (e.g. an explanation for their experience, an apology, a new assessment, reimbursement for costs etc);
- Agree a plan of action, including the timescale for investigation and response.
- In the event that the complainant does not accept the offer of a meeting, Echelon Health will seek to determine such matters based on its understanding of the complaint, and advise the complainant accordingly of its intentions.
- All complaints, whether written or verbal, will be subject an appropriate level of investigation proportionate to the content and complexity of the issues raised.
- Echelon Health will carry out an investigation and provide a full written response within 20 working days of the complaint being received.
- If a full response cannot be given with 20 working days of receiving the complaint, Echelon Health will write to the complainant explaining the reason for the delay and seek their agreement to an extension of the timescale.
- The response to the complainant should clearly detail how the complaint was investigated, including reference to any interviews undertaken, documents reviewed and any relevant policies and professional guidance accessed. The response will also confirm whether the complaint has been upheld and detail any associated actions being taken to address any failings identified.
- The complainant will be advised of their right to refer the complaint to the relevant regulatory bodies: e.g. Care Quality Commission (CQC), General Medical Council (GMC), Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) etc.
Managing Persistent and Vexatious Complaints
In situations where the person making a complaint becomes either challenging or unreasonable in their behaviour and/or communications, Echelon Health will give due consideration to instigating one or more of the following strategies:
- A single point of contact with an appropriate named senior member of the Echelon Health team;
- A single mode of contact appropriate to needs and circumstances;
- Boundaries and limits to the agreed mode of contact, including frequencies and durations for the contact;
- Ensure that a witness will be involved in each contact;
- Refuse to register repeated complaints about the same issue;
- Acknowledgment only for matters already investigated and responded to;
- That Echelon Health will not respond to correspondence that is abusive;
- Arranged contact through a third party such as an independent advocate;
- Maintain a detailed record of each contact during the ongoing relationship.
Echelon Health will review all complaints received with a view to continuous quality improvement within the independent healthcare service. All complaints received will be used as a learning exercise to consider improving aspects of the healthcare service provided to clients.