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GPs to face six-month complaint response targets under ombudsman proposals

GP practices are set to face new targets for responding to patient complaints under standards being piloted by the health ombudsman.

All ‘straightforward’ complaints should be dealt with within six months and 95% within three, while 80% of ‘complex’ complaints should be completed within six months and half within three, under the proposals.

The new Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) complaint standards are currently being piloted in every sector of the NHS – including one GP practice – and were due to be implemented across the NHS this year. 

However, a PHSO spokesperson told Pulse that due to delays caused by the pandemic, the full rollout is now planned for the beginning of next year, with the ombudsman to implement the standards from April 2023.

The proposed complaints standards said staff should ensure they ‘consistently meet expected timescales for acknowledging a complaint’ and ‘respond to complaints at the earliest opportunity’, providing ‘regular updates throughout’.

They should also give ‘clear timeframes’ for how long investigating the complaint will take and ‘agree timescales with everyone involved’, including the complainant.

An accompanying draft model complaint handling procedure said that complaints will be acknowledged within three working days either verbally or in writing.

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Source: Pulse, 24 March 2022


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