What’s in the revised code on complaints

ISCAS’s new streamlined code, replacing a seven-stage process with four used in the NHS by the Parlia­mentary and Healthcare Services Ombudsman, is as follows:

1. Promoting a just and learning culture

‘Seeing complaints as an opportunity to develop and improve services and people, acknowledging when mistakes occur or things go wrong and being held accountable for them, learning from complaints, and acting on lessons learned’.

Ms Taber said: ‘The biggest issues we have are still consultant complaints and handling. Often the complaints are around cosmetic surgery outcomes. Doctors have often not seen complaints as an opportunity to learn from how they have done things.

‘We are going to be breaking down the categories that we analyse so we can have some more details. If the organisation is not using the complaint code correctly, then there is a learning culture for them to develop to pass on to consultants.’

2. Welcoming complaints in a positive way 

‘Actively seeking and welcoming feedback, acting on concerns and complaints, recognising complaints as a positive way to imp-rove services, encouraging and empowering staff to resolve concerns quickly to the satisfaction of all parties’. 

Ms Taber said adjudications should be regarded as a way of improving rather doing nothing in response. One hospital group responded to a ‘nasty complaint’ this winter with a team meeting to see what could be learned, which was ‘great’.   

3. Being thorough and fair 

‘Conducting a thorough, fair and objective investigation without bias or discrimination, obtaining comments from all staff involved in complaints – including consultants with practising privileges, keeping complainants updated with progress and giving an open and honest answer to complaints.’ 

4. Giving fair and accountable responses 

‘Explaining what has happened and whether any mistakes occurred, explaining whether complaints have or have not been upheld, giving clear reasons for decisions, identifying any learning from complaints and explaining actions that have been taken to improve services’.

ISCAS subscribers will receive a self-assessment tool to ensure they have taken all possible learning from complaints.