Complaints Policy
POL/HH/CC/013/03

Haven House offers a range of services to the local population. However diligent and skilful our staff are, there may be times when the expectations of children, their parents/carers or others have not been met and they wish to voice a complaint.

Haven House is committed to an honest and thorough approach to complaints. This policy seeks to ensure that all complaints made are handled without delay and with the aim of satisfying the complainant, while being fair and open with all those concerned. The organisation is committed to using the information gained in complaints to help bring about service improvements. It applies to all areas of the organisation.

For the purposes of this policy, complaints relating to care services and those relating to other parts of the organisation are considered separately.

Policy objectives

  • To listen to people’s views when they arise and to deal with complaints more effectively
  • To ensure that staff, children and relatives/carers are aware of the policy and procedure
  • To ensure that all complaints are dealt with in accordance with the organisation’s complaints procedure
  • To try to resolve all complaints at the local resolution stage wherever possible
  • To identify lessons learned from complaints locally and nationally so that services may be improved

What is a complaint?

For the purposes of this policy, complaints are defined as issues raised by any outside party about actions or behaviours by Haven House staff that have given the complainant grounds for raising their concerns with us.

If there is any doubt about whether something should be treated as a complaint, referral should be made to the relevant departmental Director or the Chief Executive.

Complaints about care

The Complaints Procedure is built around the processes of local resolution, and the organisation’s responsibilities to implement recommendations from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

The Complaints Policy, in respect of complaints about care, draws on the National Health Service (Complaints) Regulations 20091 and supporting guidance issued by the Department of Health2. The regulations were revised following a White Paper commitment to develop a single comprehensive complaints procedure and are framed in accordance with legal directions.

This policy will be reviewed and amended as necessary in light of changes in legislation.

The principal objective of local resolution is to provide the fullest opportunity for investigating and resolving complaints in an open, fair, flexible and conciliatory manner. Complainants who remain dissatisfied with the response they receive as a result of local resolution may ask the CQC for an independent review of their continuing concerns.

Complainants may also contact the Health Service Ombudsman if they remain dissatisfied. The Ombudsman may check that everything has been done to resolve the issue locally. If they think more can be done, they will refer the issue back to the organisation.

The organisation operates a policy and procedure for handling habitual and/or vexatious complainants.

Key terms for complaints relating to care

Local resolution: The Director of Nursing will act as the designated Complaints Lead for the Organisation in respect of Care complaints.

Care Quality Commission (CQC): The CQC is responsible for managing the second stage of the NHS complaints procedure, where the complainant is dissatisfied with the organisation’s response.

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman: The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is responsible for managing the third and final stage of the NHS complaints procedure, where the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the previous two stages.

Who may complain about care at Haven House?

Complaints may be made by:

  • Children, former patients, their parents, or someone acting on their behalf, provided the patient or parent has given appropriate consent.
  • Any person who is affected by or likely to be affected by any action, omission or decision of the organisation, which is the subject of the complaint.
  • Any appropriate person in respect of a child who has died eg the next of kin.

When a child wishes to make a complaint, staff should take into consideration the child’s level of Gillick3 competency and an appropriate degree of involvement of their parents during the complaints process. Staff should seek guidance from the Director of Nursing if necessary.

Patient consent

Patient consent is only relevant to complaints about care. Where a complaint is received from a third party in respect of a child eg from a close relative or advocacy service, the Director of Nursing will ensure that the child’s parent consents to the release of information. This ensures that they are aware that a complaint has been made on their child’s behalf.

The investigation into the complaint and preparation of the response should be started, while waiting for consent to release information, to prevent unnecessary delays.

When the Director of Nursing acknowledges the complaint, the third party will be advised that the parent will be informed of the complaint made on their child’s behalf.

If by completion of the response, no such confirmation of consent has been received, the Executive Personal Assistant will contact the parent informing them that the response is ready. They will ask whether the parent wishes to receive the complaint response, and whether it can be copied to the third party. The response will not be sent out until such confirmation has been received.

If a Member of Parliament has made a complaint on behalf of his/her constituent, it is the responsibility of the Member of Parliament to have sought appropriate consent before contacting the organisation on the constituent’s behalf. The Director of Nursing will write to both the MP and constituent to acknowledge receipt of a complaint. The complaint response should then be addressed to the MP and a copy sent to the constituent.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Haven House will publicise the role of the Care Quality Commission in its advice to complainants.

Haven House will co-operate fully with any investigation pursued by the Care Quality Commission. In such cases the Director of Nursing will generally act as the liaison officer.

Non-care complaints

These complaints relate to other parts of the organisation and do not concern care received. Some examples of where complaints could be received are from a donor/potential donor, someone who attended a Haven House event or a customer from a Haven House shop.

The same principles of sound complaint management will still apply. Local resolution is key to resolving the complaint at an early stage.

Complainants who remain dissatisfied with the response they receive as a result of local resolution may ask Haven House Trustees for an independent review of their continuing complaint. If the complainant remains dissatisfied following appeal to Trustees they may be able to contact the Charity Commission or Fundraising Standards Board.

Key terms for complaints relating to non-care activities

Local resolution: The Chief Executive will act as the designated Complaints Lead for the organisation in respect of non-care complaints.

Time limits

Complaints should be made as soon as possible after the event to which they relate. Generally the organisation will investigate complaints that are:

  • Made within 6 months of the event; or
  • Made within 6 months of the complainant realising that they have cause for complaint, as long as this is no more than 12 months after the event itself.

The organisation has the discretion to extend these time limits where it would have been unreasonable for the complaint to be made earlier and where it is still possible to investigate the facts. If this discretion is rejected, the complainant may appeal to the CQC or other relevant body.

Complaints and disciplinary procedures

The organisation’s complaints and disciplinary procedures must be kept separate. If a complaint investigation indicates a need for:

  • An investigation under the disciplinary procedure
  • Referral to one of the professional regulatory bodies
  • A serious untoward incident investigation; or 
  • An investigation of a criminal offence

it should be passed immediately to the Chief Executive. If a decision is taken to embark upon any of these investigations, any other aspects of the complaint may still be investigated under the complaints procedure.

The complainant should be advised of the procedure being followed.

Complaints monitoring

The Director of Nursing will provide quarterly reports about care complaints to the Clinical Governance committee. This will be presented on a quarterly basis to the Clinical Governance Board (Trustees). Complaints relating to other areas of the organisation will be considered by the appropriate Governance Board. Any lessons learned, changes to policies or procedures or potential service improvements as a result of a complaint will be discussed and actioned as appropriate.