Complaints Policy

Complaints Policy of Meadowbank Vets

Meadowbank Vets views complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to put things right for the person that has made the complaint.

Our policy is
•    To provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy for anyone wishing to make a complaint
•    To publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint
•    To make sure everyone at Meadowbank Vets knows what to do if a complaint is received
•    To make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way
•    To make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired
•    To gather information which helps us to improve what we do

Definition of a Complaint
A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, about any aspect of Meadowbank Vets

Where Complaints Come From
Complaints may come from any person or organisation who has a legitimate interest in Meadowbank Vets.
A complaint can be received verbally, by phone, by email or in writing. This policy does not cover complaints from staff, who should use Meadowbank Vets Discipline and Grievance policies.

Confidentiality
All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following any relevant data protection requirements.

Responsibility
Overall responsibility for this policy and its implementation lies with the Director of Meadowbank Vets.

Review
This policy is reviewed regularly and updated as required.
Adopted on: 10.12.2013
Last reviewed: 26.11.2016

Publicised Contact Details for Complaints
Written complaints may be sent to Meadowbank Vets at Meadowbank Veterinary Surgery, Hillbank House, Commonside, Selston, Notts NG16 6FJ or by email to anne@meadowbankvets.co.uk
Verbal complaints may be made by phone to 01773 511126 or in person to any of Meadowbank Vet’s staff

Receiving Complaints
Complaints may arrive through channels publicised for that purpose or through any other contact details or opportunities the complainant may have.

Complaints received by telephone or in person need to be recorded
The person who receives a phone or in person complaint should
•    Write down the facts of the complaint
•    Take the complainant’s name, address and telephone number
•    Note down the relationship of the complainant to Meadowbank Vets (for example – client)
•    Tell the complainant that we have a complaints procedure
•    Tell the complainant what will happen next and how long it will take
•    Where appropriate ask the complainant to send a written account by post or by email so that the complaint is recoded in the complainant’s own words
For further guidelines about handling verbal complaints, see Appendix 1 below

Resolving Complaints
Stage 1
In many cases, a complaint is best resolved by the person responsible for the issue being complained about. If the complaint has been received by that person, they may be able to resolve it swiftly and should do so if possible and appropriate.
Whether or not the complaint has been resolved, the complaint information should be passed to the Principal at Meadowbank Vets within one week.
On receiving the complaint, the Principal records it in the complaints log. If it has not already been resolved, they will investigate it and take appropriate action
If the complaint relates to a specific person, they should be informed and given a fair opportunity to respond.
Complaints should be acknowledged by the person handling the complaint within a week. The acknowledgment should say who is dealing with the complaint and when the person complaining can expect a reply. A copy of this complaints procedure should be attached.
Ideally complaints should receive a definitive reply with 4 weeks. If this is not possible because for example, an investigation has not been fully completed, a progress report should be sent with an indication of when a full reply will be given.
Whether the complaint is justified or not, the reply to the complainant should describe the action taken to investigate the complaint, the conclusions from the investigation, and any action taken as a result of the complaint.

Stage 2
If the complainant feels that the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved at Stage 1, they can request that the complaint is reviewed further. At this stage Meadowbank Vets will seek external assistance from the Veterinary Defence Society.

Variation of the Complaints Procedure
Meadowbank Vets may vary the procedure for good reason. This may be necessary to avoid a conflict of interest, for example, a complaint about the Principal should not also have the Principal as the person leading a Stage 2 review.

Monitoring and Learning from Complaints
Complaints are reviewed at least annually to identify any trends which may indicate a need to take further action.

Appendix 1 – Practical Guidance for Handling Verbal Complaints

•    Remain calm and respectful throughout the conversation
•    Listen – allow the person to talk about the complaint in their own words. Sometimes a person just wants to “let off steam”
•    Don’t debate the facts in the first instance, especially if the person is angry
•    Show an interest in what is being said
•    Obtain details about the complaint before any personal details
•    Ask for clarification where necessary
•    Show that you have understood the complaint by reflecting back what you have just noted down
•    Acknowledge the person’s feelings (even if you feel that they are being unreasonable) – you can do this without making a comment on the complaint itself or making any admission of fault on behalf of Meadowbank Vets e.g “I understand that this situation is frustrating for you”
•    If you feel that an apology is deserved for something that was the responsibility of Meadowbank Vets then apologise
•    Ask the person what they would like to have done to resolve the issue
•    Be clear about what you can do, how long it will take and what it will involve
•    Don’t promise things that you cannot deliver
•    Give clear and valid reasons why requests cannot be met
•    Make sure that the person understands what they have been told
•    Wherever appropriate, inform the person about the available avenues of review or appeal.

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