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IDEGM-HR-01NameComplaints Policy
Revision4Approved ByJacqueline Daly
Approved Date01/03/2021Review Date2023

References & Definitions

East Galway & Midlands Cancer Support: EGM
EGM-MA-01 Master List of Policies and Procedures

Definition of a complaint

“An expression of dissatisfaction, either written or spoken. A complaint may be made by an individual or a group. You may wish to complain if you are not satisfied with the way you have been treated or the service you have received…’(National Mind 2009)

Purpose

East Galway & Midlands Cancer Support (We, Us, EGM, EGMCS, EG&M) is committed to dealing effectively with any complaints you may have about our service.

If we have gotten something wrong, we will apologies and where possible we will try to put things right. We also aim to learn from our mistakes and use the information we gain to improve our services.

Who can make a complaint

Any person who is being or was provided with a health or personal social service or who is seeking or has sought provision of such service may complain, in accordance with the procedures established under this Part, about any action of the Executive or Service Provider that-

  • it is claimed, does not accord with fair and sound administrative practice, and
  • adversely affects or affected that person.

What should you include in your complaint

  • Remember to state your name, address and telephone number (email if applicable) and whether you are acting on behalf of someone else
  • Briefly describe what your complaint is about stating relevant dates and times, if applicable
  • List your specific concerns starting with the most important concern
  • Be clear about what you are hoping to achieve (for example an apology, explanation, etc.)
  • State your preferred method of communication

It will assist the Director of Services if extra information and/or copies of relevant documents are attached to your complaint.

How complaints can be made

You can make a complaint in any of the ways below:

  • You can ask for a copy of our complaint form from the person with whom you are already in contact. Tell them that you want us to investigate your complaint.
  • You can get in touch with our office on 0909642088 if you want to make your complaint over the phone.
  • You can e mail us at [email protected]
  • You can write a letter to us at the following address Complaints, East Galway & Midlands Cancer Support, Le Chéile, Brackernagh, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway H53 P8H0

We aim to have complaint forms available in the office upon request.

Acknowledgements

Upon a complaint being received by or assigned to the Director of Services, s/he shall notify, within 5 working days, the complainant, in writing, that the complaint has been so received or assigned and outline the steps that he or she proposes to take in investigating the complaint and the time limits for the completion of the investigation.

Advocacy

All complainants have the right to appoint an advocate who, if a person is unable to make a complaint themselves can assist them in making the complaint. The Citizen Information (Comhairle 2005) defines advocacy as a means of empowering people by supporting them to assert their views and claim their entitlements and where necessary, representing and negotiating on their behalf.

The stages of the complaints management process

Stage 1

These are straightforward complaints which may be suitable for prompt management and to the service users’ satisfaction at the point of contact.

Stage 2

Unresolved complaints at Stage 1 may need to be referred to Director of Services. More serious or complex matters may need to be addressed immediately under Stage 2. There may be a need for investigation and action(s) as appropriate

The Director of Services must consider whether it would be practicable, having regard to the nature and the circumstance of the complaint, to seek the consent of the complainant and any other person to whom the complaint relates to finding an informal resolution of the complaint by the parties concerned.

Where informal resolution was not successful or was deemed inappropriate, the Director of Services will initiate a formal investigation of the complaint.

The Director of Services is responsible for carrying out the formal investigation of the complaint at Stage 2 but may draw on appropriate expertise, skills etc. as required. Staff have an obligation to participate and support the investigation of any complaint where requested.

At the end of the investigation, the Director of Services must write a report of their investigation and give a copy of the report to the complainant, to the manager of the relevant service (Accountable Officer) and / or staff member that was the subject of the complaint.

The final report will include any recommendations needed to resolve the matter. The Director of Services will invite everyone involved to contact them with questions about any issues and will advise the complainant of their right to a review of the recommendations made by the Director of Services.

Where the investigation at Stage 2 fails to resolve the complaint, the complainant may seek a review of their complaint from the Review at Stage 3 or the complainant may seek an independent review of their complaint from, for example, the Ombudsman/Ombudsman for Children.

Implementation of Recommendations made by Director of Services

Within 30 working days the relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) will write to the Complainant and Director of Services detailing their Recommendation Action Plan.

Where a recommendation the implementation of which would require or cause the Executive to make a material amendment to its approved service plan, the relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) may amend or reject the recommendation.

Where the recommendation is being amended or rejected or where alternative measures are being taken, the relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) must give the reasons for their decisions.

The relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) must put an action plan in place for the implementation of the recommendations of the investigation. The action plan, persons responsible and time frames are to be identified and recorded.

Where a Complainant has requested a review of the outcome of the investigation, the relevant Head of Service(Accountable Officer) will suspend the implementation of a recommendation and will notify the Complainant of this suspension.

Where no Recommendation Action Plan is forthcoming from the relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer), the Director of Services must follow up.

Stage 3

These are complaints where the Complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaint investigation at Stage 2. A request for a review must be made within 30 days of the investigation report being sent.

Clear details as to whom a complainant may apply to for a complaint review should be outlined within the complaint letter being sent out by the Director of Services. Agencies with the capacity to conduct a complaint review should ensure this is documented in their complaints policy.

The complainant may also choose to go directly to the Office of the Ombudsman, Ombudsman for Children, or other professional bodies to whom the complainant could make an application for review.

The Review Officer’s function is to:

  1. To determine the appropriateness of a recommendation made by the Director of Services, having regard to the two elements:
    • All aspects of the complaint
    • The investigation of the complaint
  2. Having determined the appropriateness of the recommendation to uphold it, vary it, or make a new recommendation if he/she considers it appropriate to do so.

Implementation of Recommendations made by Review Officers

Within 30 working days the Accountable Officer will write to the Complainant and the Review Officer detailing recommendation.

Where a recommendation, the implementation of which would require or cause the Executive to make a material amendment to its approved service plan, the relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) may amend or reject the recommendation.

Where the recommendation is being amended or rejected or where alternative measures are being taken, the relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) must give the reasons for their decisions.

The relevant Head of Service (Accountable Officer) must put an action plan in place for the implementation of the recommendations of the investigation. The action plan, persons responsible and time frames are to be identified and recorded.

Stage 4

If the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome of the complaints management process he/she may seek a review of the complaint by the Ombudsman/ Ombudsman for Children.

The complainant must be informed of their right to seek an independent review from the Ombudsman/Ombudsman for Children at any stage of the complaint management process.

We take your complaints seriously and try to learn from any mistakes we have made. Our Committee and Board of Management discuss a summary of all complaints as well as details of any serious complaints.

Where there is a need for change, we will develop an action plan setting out what we will do, who will do it and when we plan to do it by. We will let you know when changes we have promised have been made.

Managing complaints

Time frames involved once a complaint is received

Service User / Complainant Time frames

To make a complaint – 12 months

If Complainant does not wish patient confidential information to be accessed – 5 working days from date of Acknowledgement Letter

Withdraw complaint – At any stage

Request a review of a complaint – 30 working days

Refer complaint to Ombudsman – At any stage

All staff

Respond to request for information – 10 working days

All staff at Point of Contact

Point of Contact Resolution – Immediately / < 48 hours* – where possible

Point of Contact Resolution (Line Manager) – < 48 hours* – where possible

Complaints Officer Time frames

Notify Complainant of decision to extend/not extend 12 months time frame – 5 working days

Complaints Officer (Clinical Director) Resolution – < 48 hours* – if appropriate

Notification Letter to Clinical Director – On receipt of complaint – if appropriate

If complaint does not meet criteria for investigation (inform Complainant) – 5 working days

Acknowledgment Letter – 5 working days from receipt of complaint

Seeking further information – 10 working days

Update Complainant and relevant staff – Every 20 working days after initial 30 day due date

Investigate and conclude (Report) – 30 working days from date of Acknowledgement Letter

Conclude at latest – 6 months

Review Officer Time frames

Notify Complainant of decision to extend/not extend 30 days time frame – 5 working days

Review Officer should make contact with Complainant & explain process – < 48 hours* – if appropriate

Acknowledgement Letter – 5 working days from receipt of review request

If complaint does not meet criteria for review (inform Complainant) – 5 working days

Seeking further information – 10 working days

Update Complainant and relevant staff – Every 20 working days after initial 20 day due date

Investigate and conclude (Report) – 20 working days from date of Acknowledgement Letter

Head of Service / Accountable Officer Time frames

Complaint – Recommendation(s) Action Letter – 30 working days

Review – Recommendations(s) Action Letter – 30 working days

Time limits for making a complaint

The Complaints Officer must determine if the complaint meets the time frames as set out in Section 47, Part 9 of the Health Act 2004 which requires that:

A complaint must be made within 12 months of the date of the action giving rise to the complaint or within 12 months of the complainant becoming aware of the action giving rise to the complaint

Principles Governing the Investigation Process

If required a request may be made in writing to the Director of Services or the management committee to have the complaint heard by a wider group. This group could comprise of the Director of Services plus external mediator, or in the case of committee managed services, two members of the committee plus an external mediator.

Membership of this panel should not comprise of any person directly involved in the complaint or related to the complainant, or staff member.

The person making the request should be advised that, they are free to bring another person with them to a meeting to hear the complaint, to act as a scribe/record minutes.

Following the request, the complainant must be facilitated with a meeting within one month.

An agreed written record of the meeting will be kept by the external mediator and, where appropriate, a formal letter of the outcome will be issued, within a reasonable period following the meeting.

In instances where the complaint involves the welfare of a child/children, the information should be made known to the relevant local Duty Social Worker in the Health Service Executive and in the case of a committee managed service, to the committee, through the chairperson

If the complaint involves a Child Protection issue, Tusla and/or an Garda Sıochana will be notified immediately.

Matters excluded

  1. A person is not entitled to make a complaint about any of the following matters:
    a. a matter that is or has been the subject of legal proceedings before a court or tribunal;
    b. a matter relating solely to the exercise of clinical judgment by a person acting on behalf of either the service provider;
    c. an action taken by the service provider solely on the advice of a person exercising clinical judgment in the circumstances described in paragraph (b)
    d. a matter relating to or affecting the terms or conditions of a contract of employment that the Executive or a service provider proposes to enter into or of a contract with an adviser that the Executive proposes to enter into under section 24;
    e. a matter that could prejudice an investigation being undertaken by the Garda Sıochana;
    f. a matter that has been brought before any other complaints procedure established under an enactment.
  2. Section (1)(f) does not prevent Director of Services from dealing with a complaint that was made to the Ombudsman or the Ombudsman for Children and that is referred by him or her to Director of Services.

Unreasonable complainant behavior

In times of trouble or distress, some people may act out of character. There may have been upsetting or distressing circumstances leading up to a complaint. We do not view behavior as unacceptable just because someone is forceful or determined.

We believe that all complainants have the right to be heard, understood and respected. However, we also consider that our staff have the same rights. We, therefore, expect you to be polite and courteous in your dealings with us. We will not tolerate aggressive or abusive behavior, unreasonable demands or unreasonable persistence. See EGM-CO-06 Dignity & Respect at Work

Redress

An effective complaints system which offers a range of timely and appropriate remedies will enhance the quality of service to the clients of EGM. It will have a positive effect on staff morale and improve EGM’s relations with the public. It will also provide useful feedback to EGM and enable it to review current procedures and systems which may be giving rise to complaints.

Redress should be consistent and fair for both the complainant and the service against which the complaint was made. This redress could include:

  • Apology
  • An explanation
  • Refund
  • Admission of fault
  • Change of decision
  • Replacement
  • Repair /rework
  • Correction of misleading or incorrect records
  • Technical or financial assistance
  • Recommendation to make a change to a relevant policy or law
  • A waiver of debt

The Director of Services may not, following the investigation of a complaint, make a recommendation the implementation of which would require or cause the service provider to make a material amendment to an arrangement.

If, in the opinion of the relevant person, such a recommendation is made, that person shall either amend the recommendation in such manner as makes the amendment to the applicable service plan or arrangement unnecessary, or reject the recommendation and take such other measures to remedy, mitigate or alter the adverse effect of the matter to which the complaint relates as the relevant person considers appropriate.

If we formally investigate your complaint, we will let you know what we have found in keeping with your preferred form of communication. This could be by letter or email, for example. If necessary, we will produce a longer report. We will explain how and why we came to our conclusions.

If we find that we got it wrong, we will tell you what and why it happened. If we find there is a fault in our systems or the way we do things, we will tell you what it is and how we plan to change things to stop it happening again.