Receiving complaints from third parties

Often a complaint is made directly by the patient, but sometimes a relative or another third party will be the first to contact the practice. 

If someone other than the patient makes a complaint, you will need to make sure that he or she has the authority to do so. This will usually involve writing or speaking to the patient to obtain the patient's consent before responding to the person who has complained.

Our advice

  • Never assume that someone complaining on behalf of a patient has the authority to do so.
  • Patients over the age of 16, whose mental capacity is unimpaired, should usually be able to make a complaint themselves. You should get the patient's consent before responding to a complaint from their parents
  • Children under the age of 16, who are able to do so, may also make their own complaint.
  • If a complaint concerns a child, your practice has a duty to satisfy itself that the complainant is authorised to act on the child's behalf. Evidence of parental responsibility for the child would usually be required.
If a patient lacks capacity to make decisions for themselves, their representative must be an appropriate person to act on their behalf. You can contact us for individual advice before speaking or writing to anyone who has complained on behalf of a patient.

This guidance was correct at publication . It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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