Complaints Procedure

Complaints Documentation.

Complaints Procedure

Patient Complaint Form 

Patient Consent - for 3rd party contact to raise complaint

Patient Support - Contact Information

General Practices have been advised in writing by the Trust of the continuing relaxation of certain requirements of the HSC Complaints Procedure, as outlined in the information below as at November 2020.  This position has been agreed with the Department of Health.  A copy of this information has been shared with colleagues in the Patient and Client Council and NI Public Services Ombudsman’s Office.

Guidance in Relation to Health and Social Care Complaints Procedure (April 2019) remains the extant guidance relating to the roles and responsibilities of HSC organisations in respect of complaints. Whilst this guidance remains in place, the Department has agreed that it will be necessary to relax certain requirements within the current procedure to allow Practices to focus efforts where they are most needed. Furthermore, the Department has also agreed that should complaints be raised in relation to accessing or impact on services as a direct result of Practices response to the COVID-19 pandemic, these will not be investigated under the Complaints Procedure and complainants will be  advised accordingly and promptly should these issues be raised.

The current COVID-19 situation poses one of the greatest challenges that society has faced in recent times, and we have all had to make changes to our daily lives to ensure that we work together to protect the most vulnerable members of society. At the Practice we have had to make a number of responsive changes following recent developments to ensure the maximum safety of our patients, and to protect our staff as much as possible to ensure that the NHS can keep working in an effective manner and can continue to provide the best level of care possible. As such, during the current period of emergency measures many routine services will be subject to short notice change and many administrative tasks will be streamlined to ensure that we focus more of our time and resources on the delivery of care to those that need it the most. As part of this streamlining of administration tasks, the Practice will be changing its complaints procedures, during this period of crisis. As of the above date, we will now be reviewing complaints on a weekly basis at our Practice Clinical Meeting, to ensure that any high priority complaints that fall within the following categories can be swiftly discussed and any resulting changes to our Practice can be immediately implemented:

  • Immediate risks to patients or staff
  • Actual Harm to patient or "near miss" incident of high severity.
  • Urgent safeguarding concerns
  • Criminal actions

Should your complaint not fall into these categories, then it will be dealt with when we have capacity to do so, and unfortunately at this time, the timeframe for this is uncertain. We appreciate your understanding whilst our Practice is dealing with unprecedented demand.


If you have a complaint or are concerned about the services or treatment you have received from a doctor or any of the staff working in our practice, please let us know.  We operate a complaints procedure to deal with any complaints which meets the criteria agreed for Health & Social Care Services. 

Patients are informed of the complaints procedure by poster in reception and Practice leaflet.

Who can complain?

Any person can complain about any matter connected with the practice. Complaints may be made by:

  • a patient or client;
  • former patients, clients or visitors using HSC services and facilities;
  • someone acting on behalf of existing or former patients or clients, providing they have completed and enclosed a patient’s consent form;
  • parents (or persons with parental responsibility) on behalf of a child; and
  • any appropriate person in respect of a patient or client who has died e.g. the next of kin.

 How can you complain?

Hopefully most problems can be sorted out easily and quickly, often when they arise and with the person concerned.  If this is not possible, and you wish to formally make a complaint, let us know as soon as possible in order that we may find out what happened more easily. 

We can however, consider complaints made within six months of the date of discovering the problem, provided this is within twelve months of the incident.  If it is clearly reasonable in the circumstances to make a complaint after this and where it is still possible to investigate the facts of the case, we can consider extending this time limit.

If you wish to make a complaint, speak or write to the Practice Manager (Diane Lavery).  The complaints procedure will be explained to you and you will be given assurance that your concerns are dealt with promptly in an independent and unbiased manner.  It will be helpful if you are as specific as possible about your complaint. 

What Happens Next?

All complaints, are entered in the Practice Complaints Register, given a unique identity number and date tracked.

We shall acknowledge written complaints either orally or in writing, normally within two to three working days.  We aim to have looked into your complaint within 10 working days from the date of receipt, if an honest broker is used this could extend to 20 working days. 

Administrative complaints are investigated by Mrs Lavery.  Clinical complaints are investigated by Dr Lavin.  Findings are discussed at Partners’ meeting and suggestions for improvement implemented.

A written report is provided within 10 working days.  If this is not possible, the reason for the delay will be explained and a revised date for the completion of the investigation given.  The patient can meet with the Complaints Co-ordinators to discuss the complaint, investigation and findings.

All issues regarding the complaint will be dealt with in strictest confidence.  Future treatment will not be prejudiced in any way.

 In investigating your complaint we aim to:

 Find out what happened and what went wrong

  • Enable you to discuss the problem with those concerned, if you would like this.
  • Ensure you receive an apology, where this is appropriate.
  • Identify what can be done to make sure the problem does not happen again.

If you are dissatisfied with our initial response, the Health and Social Care Trust offer a local resolution options which you may wish to investigate.  Alternatively if you feel that local resolution has been exhausted you can take your complaint to the Patient/Client Council or the Complaints Ombudsman.


Staff are aware of their legal and ethical duty to protect the confidentiality of patients. These legal requirements are set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Complaints by a third party should be made with the written consent of the individual concerned.

  • There will be situations where it is not possible to obtain consent, such as: where the individual is a child and not of sufficient age or understanding to make a complaint on their own behalf
  • where the individual is incapable (for example, rendered unconscious due to an accident; judgement impaired by learning disability, mental illness, brain injury or serious communication problems)
  • where the subject of the complaint is deceased


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