Policy Statement

Everyone has the right to expect a positive experience and a good treatment outcome. In the event of concern or complaint, consumers have a right to be listened to and to be treated with respect. Service providers should manage complaints properly, so customers’ concerns are dealt with appropriately. Good complaint handling matters because it is an important way of ensuring customers receive the service they are entitled to expect. Complaints are a valuable source of feedback; they provide an audit trail and can be an early warning of failures in service delivery. When handled well, complaints provide an opportunity to improve service and reputation.

Aims & Objectives

  • Appearance Based Medicine aims to provide a service that meets the needs of our consumers and we strive for a high standard of care.
  • We welcome suggestions from consumers, clinicians and associate staff about the safety and quality of service, treatment and care we provide.
  • Appearance Based Medicine is committed to an effective and fair complaints system; and we support a culture of openness and willingness to learn from incidents, including complaints.

Complaints Policy

  • Consumers are encouraged to provide suggestions, compliments, concerns and complaints and we offer a range of ways to do it.
  • Consumers are encouraged to discuss any concerns about treatment and service with Clare McLoughlin or they can complete our customer feedback form.
  • Clare McLoughlin will use a treatment log to record any concerns and complaints about the quality of service or care to customers.
  • All complainants are treated with respect, sensitivity, and confidentiality.
  • All complaints are handled without prejudice or assumptions about how minor or serious they are. The emphasis is on resolving the problem.
  • Consumers and associate staff can make complaints on a confidential basis or anonymously if they wish and be assured that their identity will be protected.
  • Consumers and associates will not to be discriminated against or suffer any unjust adverse consequences as a result of making a complaint about standards of care and service.

Managing Complaints

  • Appearance Based Medicine will encourage consumers to provide feedback about the service, including complaints, concerns, suggestions, and compliments.
  • Clare McLoughlin and support staff are expected to attempt resolution of complaints and concerns at the point of service, wherever possible and within the scope of their role and responsibility.

Resolution

The process of resolving the problem will include:

  • an expression of regret to the consumer for any harm or distress suffered.
  • an explanation or information about what is known, without speculating or blaming others;
  • considering the problem and the outcome the consumer is seeking and proposing a solution; and confirming that the consumer is satisfied with the proposed solution.

If the problem is resolved, clinicians and staff are expected to complete the Suggestion for improvement form to record feedback from consumers.

Associate staff will consult with Clare McLoughlin if addressing the problem is beyond their responsibilities.

If the complaint is not resolved

Complaints that are not resolved at the point of service, or that are received in writing and require follow up, are regarded as formal complaints. All complaints are referred to Clare McLoughlin.

Responsibilities

  • Clare McLoughlin is responsible for coordinating investigation and resolution of formal complaints, conducting risk assessments, liaising with complainants, maintaining a register of complaints and other feedback, providing regular reports on informal and formal complaints, and monitoring the performance of the complaints policy and procedure.
  • Clare McLoughlin is responsible for a proactive approach to receiving feedback from consumers and associate/support staff. Including Investigation and review of complaints and follow up action for serious complaints, or where complaints result in recommendations for change in policy of procedures. 

Clare McLoughlin is responsible for:

  • Ensuring appropriate action is taken to resolve individual complaints.
  • Acting on recommendations for improvement arising from complaints.
  • Ensuring there is meaningful reporting on trends in complaints.
  • Ensuring compliance and review of the complaints management policy.
  • Notifications to insurers; and
  • Consultation with professional registration boards, and others where necessary.

Promoting feedback

Information is provided about the complaints policy and external complaints bodies that consumers can go to with a complaint, such as [Save Face ltd] in a variety of ways, including:

  • On our website.
  • Through our consumer feedback forms; by clinicians and staff inviting feedback and comments.

Risk assessment

After receiving a formal complaint, Clare McLoughlin will review the issues in consultation with relevant professionals, peers, and associate/support staff to decide what action should be taken, consistent with the risk management procedure.

Assessing resolution options

Formal complaints are normally resolved by direct negotiation with the complainant, but some complaints are better resolved with the assistance of an independent mediator or insurer.

Clare McLoughlin will consider appointing an independent mediator, or encourage the complainant to take the matter up with Save face Ltd if:

  • There is a serious question about the adequacy and safety of a health practitioner.
  • The complaint is against Clare McLoughlin who will be responsible for investigating the complaint, resulting in a perception that there is a lack of independence; and
  • The complaint raises complex issues that require external expertise.

Timeframes

  • Formal complaints are acknowledged in writing or in person within 48 hours.
  • The acknowledgment provides contact details for the person who is handling the complaint, how the complaint will be dealt with and how long it is expected to take.
  • If a complaint raises issues that require notification or consultation with an external body, the notification or consultation will occur within three days of those issues being identified.
  • Formal complaints are investigated and resolved within 30 days.
  • If the complaint is not resolved within 20 days, the complainant, and staff who are directly involved in the complaint will be provided with an update.

Records and privacy

  • The complaints manager (Clare McLoughlin) maintains a complaints and consumer feedback register via the Save Face portfolio, with records of informal feedback (Suggestions for improvement and Consumer feedback forms) and formal complaints.
  • Personal information in individual complaints is kept confidential and is only made available to those who need it to deal with the complaint.
  • Complainants are given notice about how their personal information is likely to be used during the investigation of a complaint.
  • Individual complaints files are kept in a secure filing cabinet in Clare McLoughlin’s office and in a restricted section of her computer system.
  • Consumers are provided with access to their medical records [in accordance with the confidentiality policy]. Others requesting access to a consumer’s medical records as part of resolving a complaint are provided with access only if the consumer has provided authorisation [in accordance with the confidentiality policy].

Open disclosure and fairness

  • Complainants are initially provided with an explanation of what happened, based on the known facts.
  • At the conclusion of an inquiry or investigation, the complainant and relevant clinicians and staff are provided with all established facts, the causal factors contributing to the incident and any recommendations to improve the service, and the reasons for these decisions.

Investigation and resolution

Clare McLoughlin carries out investigations of complaints to identify what happened, the underlying causes of the complaint and preventative strategies.

Information is gathered from:

  • Talking to clinicians and staff directly involved.
  • Listening to the complainant’s views.
  • Reviewing medical records and other records; and
  • Reviewing relevant policies, standards, or Guidelines.

Reporting & Recording complaints

Clare McLoughlin reviews yearly the number and type of complaints, the outcomes of complaints, recommendations for change and any subsequent action that has been taken. The reports are uploaded into personal portfolio (Save face Ltd) for audit and appraisal.

Clare McLoughlin may periodically prepare case studies using anonymised individual complaints to demonstrate how complaints are resolved and followed up, for use in audit and appraisal.

Information about trends in complaints and how individual complaints are resolved is considered part of reflecting on the performance of the service and provides opportunities for improvement. 

An annual quality improvement report will include information on:

  • The number and main types of complaints received, common outcomes and how complaints have resulted in changes.
  • How complaints were managed—how the complaints system was promoted, how long it took to resolve complaints (and whether this is consistent with the policy) and whether complainants and associate/support staff were satisfied with the process and outcomes; and
  • The results of the annual consumer satisfaction survey.
  • The service promotes changes it has made as a result of consumer complaints and suggestions in its general publicity.

Monitoring and evaluation

Clare McLoughlin continuously monitors the amount of time taken to resolve complaints, whether recommended changes have been acted on and whether satisfactory outcomes have been achieved.

Clare McLoughlin annually reviews the complaints management system to evaluate if the complaints policy is being complied with and how it measures up against best practice guidelines.  As part of the evaluation, consumers, clinicians, and support staff are asked to comment on their awareness of the policy and how well it works in practice.

References and Further Reading

Good Medical Practice (NMC,2013) The Code; Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics (NMC,2012) Standards for Dental Practitioners (2013)