21 April 2009
Q. If an NHS patient makes a verbal complaint can it be resolved informally?
A complaint that is spoken is just as valid as one in written form and should be treated in the same way unless it fits one of the two exemptions described in paragraph 8 of the Local Authority Social Services & NHS Complaints (England) Regulations 2009 which states:
The following complaints are not required to be dealt with in accordance with these Regulations -
a. a complaint which is made orally and is resolved to the complainant's satisfaction not later than the next working day after the day on which the complaint was made.
b. a complaint which has previously been investigated.
This can have the effect of speeding up and simplifying the complaints procedure, particularly if a practice has a nominated complaints manager who is known to the patients and who is easily available and accessible to them.
Very often, taking the time to sit down and listen to a patient goes a long way to resolving their concerns. For this to be successful, the complaints procedure should be well publicised, the team has to be fully aware of the procedures, and the complaints manager should be available during normal surgery hours.
You can read more about the new NHS complaints regulations here.