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ANNUAL REPORT 2013 Adjudicating Complaints for the Independent Healthcare Sector

ISCAS Complaints Code of Practice

The Complaints Code is the cornerstone of ISCAS and the review of the Code has been the focus of development work over the year. The new Code has a different approach and look, providing clear standards of what to expect for everyone that uses it. The effective 3 stage approach has been retained as it affords greater opportunity for local resolution.

The review of the Code included a consultation with the ISCAS Governance Board, ISCAS members and then a wider external consultation. This latter phase ensured ISCAS engaged with regulatory bodies, medical defence organisations and importantly with patient groups. The patient groups largely welcomed the changes to the Code but wanted ISCAS to be much clearer about the interface between complaints and clinical negligence, which led to further changes. It is important to reduce barriers for complainants as they work their way through a complaints process and the new Code strives to achieve this.

The Code has retained the prescribed timescales unlike the NHS framework, as these have proven helpful in managing complaints for both ISCAS members and complainants. A major change is how the Code takes account of potential clinical negligence issues within individual heads of complaint. Under the previous Code, complaints that involved potential clinical negligence, and in particular if a legal claim had been made, would have halted the whole complaints process. This is no longer the case with the new Code and ISCAS recommends that the complaints procedure, including stage 3, continues even if a complaint relates to matters that may give rise to a potential claim.

ISCAS also responded to feedback to increase the time a complainant has to escalate their complaint at each stage. Complainants now have up to six months to escalate complaints at each of the three stages. The Code was published in June 2013 and members had until September 2013 to comply with the changes.


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