Enquiries, feedback and complaints
Our Patient Experiences Department is your first point of contact if you have any feedback about the service you have received from us. You should also contact this team if you want to make a complaint. The team can also deal with all general enquiries about our policies and procedures and how we work.
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If you are not happy with the service you, a friend or a member of your family have received, you are entitled to make a complaint. You can find out more by viewing the NHS complaints procedure.
There are two possible stages to the complaints procedure:
- Local resolution: we will aim to resolve your complaint as quickly and appropriately as we can. If it is not going to be possible to do this within 35 working days, we will keep you updated with the progress of our investigation.
- Ombudsman: if you are not happy with our response to your complaint and would like to take the matter further, you can contact the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman makes final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS, government departments and some other public organisations. The service is free for everyone. To take a complaint to the Ombudsman, go to www.ombudsman.org.uk/making-complaint or call the helpline 0345 015 4033. It is important you make your complaint as soon as you receive our final response as there are time limits for the Ombudsman to look into complaints.
Who can complain and what is the time limit?
You are entitled to complain if you have been affected personally, or on behalf of someone else if you have their permission in writing.
All complaints should be made within twelve months of the incident happening, or of becoming aware that you have something to complain about. This can be extended if there is a good reason.
Who cannot use the NHS Complaints Procedure?
Health and social care professionals cannot use the NHS Complaints Procedures unless this is on behalf of the patient or the complainant.
Incident reporting is the recognised governance mechanism health and social care professionals generally use.
Where can I get more help?
Each local authority has a duty to ensure that local independent advocacy services provide support to people who want to make a complaint.
There are a number of different providers across London.
For more information see Advocacy Services
How we will manage your enquiry
When we receive your enquiry we will firstly decide on the priority it needs to be given. We will adhere to the principles of good administration, complaints handling and remedy set out by the Health Service Ombudsman. If you sent your complaint by email and did not receive an automatic acknowledgment, please contact us on 020 3069 0240.
We seek to quickly identify the most serious issues, such as those involving abuse or unsafe practice, and take action accordingly. In some cases we will deal with incidents under our serious incidents policy, which can be found on our incident reporting page.
We aim to respond to most enquiries within 35 working days. This timescale enables us to provide you with as thorough a response as possible, but is subject to change as the case develops and new issues emerge or due to the demand we are experiencing (see above).
Where the care provided to you involved more than one health and social care provider, we will liaise with those providers to ensure that, wherever possible, you receive a single response to your complaint. Where this is not possible, we will ask those other agencies to respond to those elements of your complaint that concern them. Reciprocal arrangements apply when we are contacted by another agency.
Our Chief Executive or one of the senior management team will write to you. You can be assured that they discuss patient feedback and complaints at Trust Board meetings so that we can learn across the Trust.
If you are not happy with our response to your complaint, you have a right to contact the Health Service Ombudsman to ask them to investigate your complaint.
What we will do to resolve your enquiry
When we receive an enquiry, complaint or a report about an incident we will do the following:
- Examine and evaluate our records relating to the incident. For example, the call logs (records of the 999 call), the recordings of the 999 call, and the patient report form (the record of the assessment and treatment provided).
- Examine what demand we faced at the time of the incident and what staff and vehicles were available.
- Obtain an account of events from the staff involved.
- Obtain a quality assurance evaluation of the way in which the 999 call was managed.
- Obtain clinical advice about the care provided.
- Offer a comprehensive explanation of how the incident was managed.
- Explain what action we are going to take, if any.
- Explain any overlapping mechanisms that may apply – for example, where the same incident is about the subject of other investigations.
Where appropriate we will take the following action:
- Involve relevant senior managers and our quality directorate at an early stage. We may also obtain independent clinical advice.
- We will always consider a face-to-face meeting if someone has died, when a serious case is identified and when the person concerned requests one.
- Arrange independent mediation where appropriate.
- Ask people independent of our organisation to carry out an inquiry, especially if we do not have the expertise ourselves.
- Continue to build on the strong relationship we have with the NHS Complaints Advocacy services. We also welcome the involvement of specialist advocacy services.
- Liaise with other health and social care providers where they may have been involved in the matter.
Our promise to you
When we receive an enquiry or complaint, you can expect us to do the following.
- Acknowledge by email, letter or telephone within three days – this is based on the Monday to Friday working office hours of the patient experiences team.
- Deal with the matter in confidence.
- Keep you updated on the progress of your enquiry and any action we intend to take.
- Use information from your enquiry to improve our services.
- In some cases invite you to speak to our Trust Board or arrange a visit to our Control Room.
What we will do if we get it wrong
Although we aim to provide a high quality service, there are times when we get it wrong. When that happens we will do the following:
- Offer you an apology.
- With a senior manager, training officer or someone with expertise, review the care we provided and/or the way we managed the incident and reflect on what happened in a way that helps us to learn from the experience.
- Reimburse you where financial loss has been incurred.
- Use your experience to improve our policies and practice.
- Where appropriate, create a specific care plan, with the involvement and agreement of the patient involved.
- Explain what we have done to address the issues raised and prevent them happening again.
- Report back to you on the action we have taken.
- Work closely with any other agency involved so that we can offer a ‘joined-up’ approach.