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What are Feedback, Comments, Concerns and Complaints?

Feedback, comments, concerns and complaints are defined as:

Feedback: views expressed orally or in writing as part of a survey or patient experience questionnaire, through the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) [1] or via stakeholder electronic portals. The feedback may describe the patients or carer’s individual experience of the practice and may include suggestions on things that could have been done better or identify areas of good practice.

Comments: Comments, compliments or observations expressed orally or in writing which reflect how a patient felt about the service they received.

Concerns: May be expressed to staff in relation to proposed treatment or timing of appointments. This is less about expressing dissatisfaction more about wanting to be kept fully informed about what is to happen.

Complaints: A complaint may be defined as an expression of dissatisfaction about an action or lack of action or standard of care provided. Complaints may be made to any member of the practice staff so all staff need to be mindful of the importance of the first contact about a complaint.

Staff need to use their judgement to distinguish between feedback, comments, concerns and complaints and to identify issues that constitute a complaint (see Handling Complaints). A matrix to help make a decision is provided in the NHS Scotland Model Complaints Handling Procedure [2]. Valuing Feedback and Complaints a short e-learning module is also available.

Complaints can be made to the practice in person, in writing, by telephone, by e-mail or online, either by the individual concerned or by someone complaining on their behalf. Where a complaint is being made on behalf of a patient, it is important to determine whether the patient has consented to the complaint being handled on their behalf.

If a person does not wish to complain to the practice directly, they can approach the local Health Board. The Health Board can act as ‘honest broker’ to facilitate communication between the person and the practice but have no responsibility to investigate complaints (see Unresolved Complaints).

Be aware that for complaints against individuals it may be more appropriate for the person making the complaint to approach the appropriate professional body to investigate. The practice’s Raising Concerns and Whistleblowing Policy June 2021 (Word)should give details on how to raise concerns about patient safety or malpractice (whistleblowing).

Circumstances where the practice’s Complaints Handling Procedure does and does not apply are listed in the model NHS MCHP [3].

The Complaints Handling Procedure does not provide for compensation. Direct a patient to PASS [1] for advice about compensation.