Standard Policy - Ref: POL/HH/CC/013/06

For the purposes of this document, the phrase “all staff” includes all salaried employees, contractors and volunteers.

Policy Statement – Introduction
Haven House Children’s Hospice aims to offer services of the highest quality at all times. However, the organisation recognises there are times when a service may be problematic, and complaints may be made. In these circumstances it should be determined whether the complaint is of a clinical or non-clinical (including fundraising) nature and then dealt with according to the pathway below. In all circumstances there is principle of good practice which should be followed:

  • To ensure fairness for staff and complainants alike
  • Confidentiality should be maintained and disclosure to third parties minimised when a verbal or written complaint is received
  • A register of all complaints will be maintained (Appendix A on downloadable PDF copy), including information on the nature of the complaint, whether or not the complaint was upheld, the results of the investigation, the action taken and the resolution of the complaint. A register of thank you letters will also be held
  • Any complaints received will be reported at the appropriate committee meetings.
  • An annual report of all complaints (anonymised) will be collated by the Chief Executive (or nominated deputy) and reported to the Board of Trustees.
  • The results of complaints and investigations will be learnt from and used to improve the charity’s services.
  • Staff will be made aware of the complaints procedure on induction and receive relevant training on dealing with complaints.
  • To use an approach of honesty with the prime aim of addressing the concerns of the complainant.

Scopes and Aims

A complaint can be defined in both clinical and non-clinical terms as:

“An expression of dissatisfaction that requires a response”.

This policy covers complaints and other negative feedback, whether formal or informal in nature, regarding any service-related matter, clinical or non-clinical. It does not cover Staff Grievances, which have their own protocol.

Related Policies:

Haven House Employee Handbook
Consent Policy for Children and Families
Media consent and use of images policy
Guidance on Professional Boundaries
Fundraising communications with Vulnerable Supporters
Privacy and Data Protection Policy
Records Management and standards of Record Keeping Policy
Health and Safety and Risk Management
Confidentiality Policy
Care Volunteer Strategy
Freedom to Speak Up Policy
Safeguarding Children and Young People and Adults at Risk Supervision Policy
Duty of Candour

Areas of Complaint

Clinical Complaints

Family centred care is practised at Haven House Children’s Hospice and this is essential to ensure good communication and understanding when receiving complaints.

Should any parent/child/visitor to the hospice wish to make a complaint about any clinical aspect of the service, contact should be made with the shift coordinator and discussed with the Director of Care or In-House Lead Nurse or put in writing to the Director of Care, Haven House Children’s Hospice, The White House, Woodford Green, Essex IG8 9LB or emailed to the Director of Care

If the complainant wishes to escalate the complaint but does not wish to put it in writing, the person receiving the complaint will escalate to a higher level. This should also incorporate complaints or negative feedback about community/at home service provision.
Information concerning the complaints procedure is contained in the patient information pack, provided to each of our families.

Complaints from Children

Staff must be aware of the difficulties a child or young person may face in expressing concerns or complaints.

Complaints made by children and young people will be heard and taken seriously. The complaints procedure will be followed.

Non-clinical Complaints

Should anyone wish to make a complaint about any non-clinical aspect of the hospice services contact this should be made, either verbally or in writing, with the relevant department head. If the complainant wishes to escalate the complaint but does not wish to put it in writing, the person receiving the complaint will escalate to a higher level.

Staff Complaints

Staff complaints will be handled through the Staff Grievance Procedure and/or Whistleblowing Policy.

Procedure for all complaints

Please also refer to Appendix B on the downloadable PDF
– “Complaint Flowchart” for a diagrammatic overview of the Complaints Procedure.
All complaints, written or verbal, will be acknowledged in writing within two working days of receipt (unless a full reply can be sent within five working days) by the relevant Department Head. This letter should detail the complaints process.
A full response should be made within 20 working days of receipt of the complaint, or where the investigation is still in progress, a letter explaining the reason for the delay and timescale for response is sent to the complainant and a full response made within five days of a conclusion being reached.

The response should include:

1. The appropriate expression of regret or apology should be given (if the charity does not appear to be at fault an apology or regret can be given acknowledging that the charity is sorry that the complainant is unhappy).
2. Process of investigation.
3. Full explanation.
4. Action taken or recommended to prevent a reoccurrence.
5. Letter of response signed by appropriate Department Head or Director with sufficient seniority to resolve the issues.
6. Details of whom complainant should contact if they have further queries.
7. Who else to contact (within the hospice/Care Quality Commission/Charity Commission) if not satisfied with response to complaint.

Should the matter remain unresolved, there is a recourse to the Chief Executive Officer. The Department Head will advise the complainant of this in writing.

Second Stage Complaints Procedure

If the matter cannot be resolved or the explanation given still does not give satisfaction, then there is recourse to the Chair of Trustees. The Chair will assess the information received and be in contact again within 20 working days to inform the complainant of their decision and any subsequent action to be taken.
Escalating Complaints Beyond Haven House

Clinical Complaints

The hospice is registered with and regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC cannot get involved in individual complaints about providers, but is happy to receive information about our service at any time. You can contact the CQC at:

Care Quality Commission National Correspondence
Citygate, Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4PA

T: 0300 616 161

If the complainant believes that CQC standards have been breached then there is a recourse to the CQC.

The CQC will acknowledge the concern in writing within seven days of receiving it and they will explain what will happen next.

The CQC will assess the information received and decide whether the hospice may have committed and offence. They will then be in contact again (usually within 20 working days).

The CQC may also do the following:

  • Decide they are not the best organisation to deal with the concern and refer the complainant to the relevant professional body
  • Decide that the hospice has broken one of the regulations and take a suitable action (complainant will be informed of action taken)
  • Decide that the hospice has not broken the regulations.

The CQC can be contacted via the address, telephone and website shown above.

Non-Clinical Complaints

For Fundraising and other non-clinical matters, recourse can be made to The Charity Commission – full contact details are available at

Comments and Concerns

The hospice is always pleased to receive constructive comments or concerns. Issues raised, suggestions made or feedback given to any member of staff in the charity should be passed on to the relevant head of department or line manager and the necessary action taken. Alternatively, please email the Director of Care. 

This policy can be made available in other languages on request.

For fundraising complaints please email our income generation team.