Case study

Complaint against a practice owner

Practice owner, Paul's story

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What happened 

Practice owner, Paul, received a complaint from a patient’s daughter. The complainant alleged that her mother had lost her sight because when she had contacted them the previous month the practice hadn’t been able to see her urgently as part of the local community eye care service, and had failed to give appropriate advice on her symptoms.

How We helped 

We discussed the circumstances of the case with Paul, and how to respond to a complaint which has been made on behalf of another individual. 

We helped Paul to draft a response, acknowledging the complainant’s concerns and setting out the practice’s normal advice when urgent appointments are not available. However the complainant responded, disputing whether the correct advice had been given during the original phone call.

We discussed with Paul the various avenues open to patients who wish to complain, and areas where his practice could be open to criticism should the complaint escalate. We suggested using the complaint as a learning exercise to put more robust measures in place going forward, focusing on staff training and record keeping. This would not only reduce the risk of similar complaints arising in future, but also demonstrated that the practice had acted appropriately in light of the complaint which had already been made.

We helped Paul draft a second response to the complainant, offering an apology without accepting liability, and outlining the measures which the practice had put in place to ensure patients receive appropriate advice when they contact the practice with an urgent eye problem.

the outcome 

The complainant did not pursue the complaint further.  Paul’s practice now has more robust measures in place to reduce the risk of a similar complaint arising in future. Should a complaint be made to an investigatory body, the action Paul has taken will help demonstrate that the practice acted appropriately when concerns were raised, and may enable the investigatory body to dismiss the complaint at an earlier stage.