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FPS Complaints – Role of SPPG

Role of the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG)

1.  To provide support and advice.

2.  To act as “honest broker” between complainant and practitioner – ‘honest broker’ is where the complaints manager at the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) acts as an intermediary in an attempt to resolve the complaint locally. (Back to response times)

3.  For example, the honest broker may provide advice to both the complainant and the Practice/Pharmacy; act as a link between both parties and/or negotiate with them; and facilitate and attend meetings between both parties. However, agreement to the SPPG acting in this role is required from both parties. Further information on the Honest Broker role is available in Annexe 11 within the Guidance.

4.  To facilitate alternative methods of local resolution, such as separate or joint meetings with both parties, mediation and conciliation.

5.  The appointment of Independent Experts – the SPPG may approve, arrange and finance input from independent experts, where it is deemed that these may be helpful.  The appointment of a Lay Person – the SPPG may approve, arrange and finance input from independent lay persons, where it is deemed that these may be helpful. Lay persons are not intended to act as advocates, conciliators or investigators. Neither do they act on behalf of the provider or the complainant. The lay person’s involvement is to help bring about a resolution to the complaint and to provide assurances that the action taken was reasonable and proportionate to the issues raised. Lay persons are totally independent of Health and Social Care (HSC). They review documentation relating to the complaint, meet with relevant personnel and offer their opinion on the complaint in a written report with suggestions/recommendations for resolution. SPPG complaints staff provide administrative support to lay persons, to include drafting letters, arranging meetings and maintaining records of meetings.

It is also the SPPG’s role to:

  • Monitor complaints processes, outcomes and service improvements – For the purposes of monitoring, SPPG is required to ensure that all FPS Practices have effective complaints handling arrangements in place.
  • Investigate any patterns or trends of concern against practitioners – They will also consider the nature, volume and outcome of complaints.
  • Disseminate learning- It will identify any patterns or trends of concern or clusters of complaints against individual practices and it will collate and share learning and intelligence from complaints.
  • Provide advice and support- The SPPG can provide complaints training as and when required to Family Practitioner Services. SPPG staff are willing to provide support and guidance to Practices and are able to review anonymised responses to complainants if requested.
  • FPS should provide anonymised copies of all written complaints (i.e. letters, statements taken, complaints forms) received and responded to directly at Practice level, to the SPPG for monitoring purposes (and within 3 working days of the response having been issued). Please note that only the patient’s name and contact details should be anonymised. To ensure that patients and complainants are aware that the SPPG will be receiving anonymised copies of their complaint and the Practices’ responses, it is suggested that when acknowledging complaints, the Practice should make reference to this. If any objection is subsequently received the correspondence can be legitimately withheld.

All FPS Practices should address relevant correspondence to –

Complaints Department,
Strategic Planning and Performance Group,
12- 22 Linenhall Street,
Belfast   BT2 8BS

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