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Practice managers 'must play key role' in new complaints procedure

By Ashleigh Goff

Practice managers must be aware of the key role they have to play in the new complaints procedure, according to medico-legal experts.

The Medical Defence Union is warning that the new NHS complaints procedure, introduced in England on 1 April, has given practice managers even more responsibility in handling complaints, with new tasks including ensuring the complaints procedure is well publciised, establishing a protocol for signing off on all complaint responses, and producing an annual report of complaints for the PCT.

An article in the latest edition of the MDU's practice manager journal Inpractice highlights how a seemingly straightforward complaint from a patient over telephone access led to the practice reviewing its telephone system and training for staff.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr John Holden said: 'While only a tiny minority of patients will have cause to complain about the caree they have received, if problems do arise, practice managers can ensure concerns are addressed quickly and sympathetically.

'They need to be aware of the changes to the complaints proceudre because there are now specific responsibilites for which practice managers may be held accountable. For example, the new procedures place a greater emphasis on learning from complaints and there are requirements to have formal mechnaisms in place to drive learning

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