The manner in which complaints are dealt with, or rather not dealt with at all.

The request was successful.

Dear Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board,

This request is a follow up to two previous FOI requests to you which are to be found here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

In Item 2.1 of a report from Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board (DGNHSB), it states, "Dumfries and Galloway NHS implemented the NHS Scotland Model Complaints Procedure from 1 April 2017". It showed that 500 complaints had been received in 2019/20 and 394 in 2018/19. At the same time at Indicator 5 it states, "The Board responded to 503 complaints in this period compared to 394 in 2018/19". It has been established that these figures do not include complaints which were not investigated, or to which Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board did not respond. I note the report states, "The Board responded to...", this is rather than "received".

The information sought under the FOI Act is as follows;

1) Since the NHS Complaints Procedure does not allow for complaints made to be disregarded, on what basis has DGNHSB decided to abandon complaints it doesn't like, or care to investigate?

2) This policy appears to be unlawful, has a legal opinion been sought regarding this? In the event it has, please provide details.

3) Has DGNHSB advised people who made complaints it has decided not to deal with that they won't be hearing from them? Have reasons been provided in respect of these?

4) Have the people whose complaints have not been dealt with been given the opportunity to appeal this decision?

5) What is your statutory authority for declining to investigate complaints submitted under the NHS Complaints Procedure?

6) What audit is made concerning the numbers of complaints received? What checks are made on the treatment of complaints and who does this?

7) Information given previously by DGNHSB is that the complaints which are not investigated, or responded to, are not included in the numbers of complaints received by DGNHSB. Please confirm that is the case.

8) Are records maintained for the numbers of complaints that are neither investigated, nor responded to? What happens as far as retaining these complaints for the record and audit purposes?

9) In a reply to a previous request it stated that Jeff Ace and Nick Morris take the decision not to respond to complaints. Is there any oversight of their decisions? are they accountable to anyone for their actions?

It appears that, prima facie, this is unlawful and an abuse of process.

Yours faithfully,

Caroline Airley

dg.feedback, Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board

2 Attachments

Thank you for your request received 19 April.
Please find attached NHS Dumfries and Galloway's response to your Freedom
of Information request and amended version of our response to 21-093.
Kind regards
Rachel Hinchliffe
Freedom of Information Officer
NHS Dumfries and Galloway

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Caroline Airley <[FOI #748950 email]>
Sent: 19 April 2021 13:57
To: dg.feedback <[NHS Dumfries and Galloway request email]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - The manner in which complaints
are dealt with, or rather not dealt with at all.
 
Dear Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board,

This request is a follow up to two previous FOI requests to you which are
to be found here:

[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

[2]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

In Item 2.1 of a report from Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board (DGNHSB), it
states, "Dumfries and Galloway NHS  implemented the NHS Scotland Model
Complaints Procedure from 1 April 2017". It showed that 500 complaints had
been received in 2019/20 and 394 in 2018/19.  At the same time at
Indicator 5 it states, "The Board responded to 503 complaints in this
period compared to 394 in 2018/19".  It has been established that these
figures do not include complaints which were not investigated, or to which
Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board did not respond. I note the report states,
"The Board responded to...", this is rather than "received".

The information sought under the FOI Act is as follows;

1) Since the NHS Complaints Procedure does not allow for complaints made
to be disregarded, on what basis has DGNHSB decided to abandon complaints
it doesn't like, or care to investigate?

2) This policy appears to be unlawful, has a legal opinion been sought
regarding this? In the event it has, please provide details.

3) Has DGNHSB advised people who made complaints it has decided not to
deal with that they won't be hearing from them? Have reasons been provided
in respect of these?

4) Have the people whose complaints have not been dealt with been given
the opportunity to appeal this decision?

5) What is your statutory authority for declining to investigate
complaints submitted under the NHS Complaints Procedure?

6) What audit is made concerning the numbers of complaints received? What
checks are made on the treatment of complaints and who does this?

7) Information given previously by DGNHSB is that the complaints which are
not investigated, or responded to, are not included in the numbers of
complaints received by DGNHSB. Please confirm that is the case.

8) Are records maintained for the numbers of complaints that are neither
investigated, nor responded to? What happens as far as retaining these
complaints for the record and audit purposes?

9) In a reply to a previous request it stated that Jeff Ace and Nick
Morris take the decision not to respond to complaints. Is there any
oversight of their decisions? are they accountable to anyone for their
actions?

It appears that, prima facie, this is unlawful and an abuse of process.

Yours faithfully,

Caroline Airley

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Caroline Airley

Dear dg.feedback,

Thank you for your response of 30 April 2021.

I note you state that you state you deal with complaints under the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman's Complaints Handling Procedure. The NHS Complaints Procedure is the usual route for dealing with complaints. I am aware of cases where you have acknowledged complaints stating they are being dealt with under the NHS Complaints procedure only to fail to comply with this. In fact you have failed to deal with these at all. This seems to be the norm for Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board who appear to have a policy of ignoring serious, valid, complaints from patients who have been ill treated (or not treated). In the land of Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board the patient is not only mistreated medically but is treated with contempt when they complain. I put it to you that the complainants are never advised that their complaints are put in the bin without any investigation, or action.

I also put it to you that it is unlawful to fail to comply with the NHS Complaints procedure.

It follows that complainants are unable to contact the SPSO since they are unaware of the fact their complaint has been put in the bin.

The fact that you do not include complaints that have been ignored in the figures of complaints in your report means that, in effect, the figures you provide for complaints are nothing less than fraudulent.

It is clear the Board is acting unlawfully in relation to the manner in which complaints are being dismissed with no action taken and no response to the complainant. The figures given for complaints in the report bear no resemblance to complaints received. The manner in which complainants are dealt with is nothing short of despicable.

Given patients are mistreated, or failed to be treated, very commonly by Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board, this is something that needs to be addressed. It is clear that the Board members consider themselves above the law and unaccountable for their failures.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Airley

dg.feedback, Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board

Thank you for your email.
In order for use to proceed can you please clarify exactly what you are
asking the Health Board to review from our response?
Kind regards
Freedom of Information Officer
NHS Dumfries and Galloway

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Caroline Airley <[FOI #748950 email]>
Sent: 01 May 2021 14:40
To: dg.feedback <[NHS Dumfries and Galloway request email]>
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information request - The manner in which
complaints are dealt with, or rather not dealt with at all. 21-134
 
Dear dg.feedback,

Thank you for your response of 30 April 2021.

I note you state that you state you deal with complaints under the
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman's  Complaints Handling Procedure. The
NHS Complaints Procedure is the usual route for dealing with complaints. I
am aware of cases where you have  acknowledged complaints stating they are
being dealt with under the NHS Complaints procedure only to fail to comply
with this. In fact you have failed to deal with these at all.  This seems
to be the norm for Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board who appear to have a
policy of ignoring serious, valid, complaints from patients who have been
ill treated (or not treated).  In the land of Dumfries and Galloway NHS
Board the patient is not only mistreated medically but is  treated with
contempt when they complain. I put it to you that the complainants are
never advised that their complaints are put in the bin without any
investigation, or action.

I also put it to you that it is unlawful to fail to comply with the NHS
Complaints procedure.

It follows that complainants are unable to contact the SPSO since they are
unaware of the fact their complaint has been put in the bin.

The fact that you do not include complaints that have been ignored in the
figures of complaints in your report means that, in effect, the figures
you provide for complaints are nothing less than fraudulent.

It is clear the Board is acting unlawfully in relation to the manner in
which complaints are being dismissed with no action taken and no response
to the complainant. The figures given for complaints in the report bear no
resemblance to complaints received. The manner in which complainants are
dealt with is nothing short of despicable.

Given patients are mistreated, or failed to be treated, very commonly by
Dumfries and Galloway NHS Board, this is something that needs to be
addressed. It is clear that the Board members consider themselves above
the law and unaccountable for their failures.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Airley

show quoted sections

Caroline Airley

Dear dg.feedback,

The comments sent to you on 1 May 2021 were intended to respond to your contentions in the information provided for the FOI request. This was not a request for review. The FOI request has been closed.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Airley