Phoenix Mental Health Services is committed to providing high-quality mental health services to our patients. However, we understand that there may be occasions when our patients are dissatisfied with the service they receive.
To ensure that we handle complaints in a fair and efficient manner, we have developed the following policy in compliance with Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: Regulation 16. This is based on the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS) three stage code.
The Code covers patients who have self-funded their treatment in a subscribing organisation. The Code also covers complaints made by (or on behalf of) patients treated in a subscribing organisation, whose care was paid for through an insurance scheme. It also applies where someone else makes a complaint on behalf of the patient (e.g. a relative).
The ISCAS Code covers complaints about doctors and other healthcare professionals working within subscribing organisations, even where they are not directly employed by the organisation and have instead been granted practising privileges.
Stage 1: Frontline Resolution
If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the service you have received, you should initially raise your concerns with the clinician you have been dealing with as soon as possible and (unless there are truly exceptional reasons) within 6 months.
The clinician will examine your concerns and try to resolve the issue to your satisfaction. You will be provided with a copy of this policy (which also explains the process for taking your complaint to the next stage if you are not satisfied with the response). Where appropriate/wished for by the patient, the clinician will offer a face to face or remote meeting to discuss the complaint more fully.
If the issue cannot be resolved by the clinician, they will pass it to the Practice Manager who will try and resolve the issue.
You will receive acknowledgement of receipt within 3 working days and the process will take no longer than 20 working days from the time of your initial complaint communication. Special assistance is available for vulnerable patients or patients for whom English is not their first language – please inform us if this affects you. By the end of this period, you will get a final written response.
Stage 2: Unresolved Complaints
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at Stage 1 or it has not been possible to resolve it, you can ask for your complaint to be investigated further. You should address your request to the Practice Manager (or Clinical Director), who will acknowledge receipt. Escalation should be within 6 months of the final response to the initial complaint.
The Stage 2 process is handled on our behalf by MEDSU, which is an independent organisation which provides clinical governance support to Phoenix Mental Health Services. You will receive acknowledgement of receipt within 3 working days and the process will take no longer than 20 working days. By the end of this period, you will get a final written response.
Stage 3: Independent External Adjudication
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at Stage 2, you can request an independent review. Escalation should be within 6 months of the final response to the unresolved complaint. You will receive acknowledgement of receipt within 3 working days and the process which will take no longer than 20 working days. By the end of this period, you will get a final written response. This is the final stage and will involve a process of mediation.
Stage 3 is the final stage in the complaints process and the adjudication decision is final. Both Phoenix Mental Health Services and complainants agree to accept the finality of the decision as part of their participation in the independent adjudication process. There is no right of appeal against the adjudicator’s decision.
Phoenix Mental Health Services will keep all details relating to the complaint and its investigation confidential.
Phoenix Mental Health Services will obtain formal written consent from the patient where the complaint is being made by someone else on their behalf and/or where the handling of the complaint requires the disclosure of confidential information to other relevant parties. Submission of the signed consent via email would be sufficient. Electronic signatures would be acceptable. Where consent cannot be provided (for example where the patient is incapacitated), Phoenix Mental Health Services will use risk-based decision-making on a case-by-case basis and document the outcome and actions taken.
Phoenix Mental Health Services will obtain consent from complainants (or their representative) to share any data or clinical information held about them, for example with clinicians who are providing an independent opinion where this is required as part of the investigation.
Attitude to Complaints
We take complaints very seriously and will use them to improve our services. We will keep a record of all complaints and use this information to monitor and improve our services. We will also ensure that all staff are aware of this policy and are trained to deal with complaints in an appropriate manner.
We aim to demonstrate openness and transparency in the investigation and in all communication with the complainant in accordance with the professional duty of candour and comply with the requirements of any statutory duty of candour as relevant and in line with regulatory requirements.
We will discuss with the complainant the need for any independent investigation which needs to be undertaken or an independent clinical opinion to be obtained as part of the investigation into the complaint, in cases where this may be helpful in resolving the complaint. Such an opinion would be obtained from a clinician who is external to Phoenix Mental Health Services at our own expense.
- Allegations that a healthcare provider has broken the law - this should be referred to the police. This includes any allegations of unlawful conduct by individual members of staff. For example, it is for the courts to determine objectively whether an assault has occurred.
- Alleged breaches of the provisions of the Mental Health Act or complaints that question whether the Act has been properly applied in a specific instance. The systems regulators in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the Care Quality Commission, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority) are responsible for monitoring how the Mental Health Act is applied in those countries. The Mental Welfare Commission is responsible for monitoring how the Mental Health Act is applied in Scotland.
- Whether negligence has occurred. This is a matter for the courts to determine. Complainants who wish to pursue an allegation of clinical negligence should be advised to seek independent legal advice.
- Complaints about private medical insurance products. A private medical insurance product is an insurance policy to cover a discrete package of care or benefits that are offered by a private healthcare provider. The Financial Ombudsman Service covers certain complaints about private medical insurance.
- Breach of data protection legislation (although it does cover concerns about administrative failures and customer service issues related to the alleged data breach). Complainants who wish to raise concerns regarding breach of data protection legislation should be directed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- Breaches of clinicians’ professional standards (although it does cover concerns about their behaviour). The General Medical Council (GMC), Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) or other health professional regulator (as relevant) are empowered to investigate complaints relating to breaches of professional standards where a clinician’s professional conduct or fitness to practise has been called into question.
An award or refund of fees cannot be made under the ISCAS Code, nor can Phoenix Mental Health Services be instructed to waive amounts that have not yet been paid, although a goodwill award may be offered in certain circumstances.
However, Phoenix Mental Health Services will put any outstanding amounts due from the complainant on hold whilst the complaints process is ongoing.
Making Your Complaint
It is important to us that all complaints/compliments are recorded so we invite you to either email us or complete our ‘Complaint/Compliments form’, which can be found by clicking on this link: https://form.jotform.com/211734326507351. A member of our Practice Team can send a link by email or a paper copy if preferred – please ask. If you are unable to use a form, please let us know and we can arrange for you to make your complaint by phone or face to face.