MANCHESTER SPECIFIC INFORMATION
A complaint is defined as any expression of dissatisfaction about a council service, provided directly or by a contractor or partner, or the behaviour of a staff member.
A complaint can be made by:
A service should not be delayed, withdrawn or suspended because a person has made a complaint.
The local authority’s complaints procedure should aim to achieve the best outcome for:
Each complaint should be seen as an opportunity to improve the service offered.
There is a single complaints procedure for adult social care and the National Health Service (NHS) in line with the The Local Authority Social Services and National Health Services Complaints (England) Regulations 2009.
Where a complaint involves these two organisations or more, the complainant should receive a coordinated response.
Responding appropriately to complaints includes:
The local authority’s complaints procedure may be used in relation to:
The Complaints Procedure also includes an appeal process for those citizens who wish to appeal against an individual budget allocation. The appeals process sits within the Complaints Procedures and as such, following the outcome of the appeal, people have the right to approach the Local Government Ombudsman if they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of their appeal.
The local authority’s complaints procedure does not apply when the complaint:
Any person expressing a concern about a service should be listened to, so that the nature of the complaint is properly understood and wherever possible the issue causing concern can be quickly resolved locally and informally for example by a change in arrangements which can be managed easily within the person’s overall plan. Informal resolution should be completed within 24 hours of receipt of the complaint.
Where a quick resolution is possible without further investigation, this should be done with the agreement of the relevant operational team manager so long as the complainant is happy with this outcome and there are no risks to others using services, for example because the complaint raises serious issues.
Any complaint received should be recorded (on MiCare) and Manchester City Council’s Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) should be notified even where a quick resolution is achieved.
If it is clear the person wishes to make a formal complaint or that local resolution has failed, this should be passed to the Corporate Complaints Team (Adults), who will obtain all information possible in order to consider the seriousness of the complaint and to enable the complaint to be investigated and resolved as quickly as possible.
After receiving a complaint where a quick resolution is not possible, the Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) will acknowledge the complainant within three working days. The acknowledgement will:
Where the complaint relates to more than one organisation, it should be agreed between the relevant organisations which of them will take the lead and a single point of contact should be given to the complainant.
The lead person will be responsible for liaising with the other organisation throughout the duration of the complaint.
Complaints can be resolved more effectively if it has been made clear from the outset what the person complaining expects as an outcome. If this is not a feasible or realistic outcome, this must be explained to the complainant.
Complaints which have any element of adult abuse or suspected abuse will be immediately referred through the Manchester City Council’s Contact Centre, and the safeguarding adults procedure will be followed (see Safeguarding Procedures for Responding in Individual Cases.
At this point the complaint will be reconsidered and may be placed on hold until the outcome of the safeguarding investigation is known.
Citizens who are in receipt of services from the Council should be informed of the Complaints Procedure and how they can use it.
Citizens should have access to advice and information about making complaints, including how to complain and who to complaint to.
There are many reasons why someone might need support (e.g. disability, language, age) and there are a number of services that help.
The purpose of the complaint is to establish the facts of what occurred. This should include – where appropriate – reviewing records, interviewing staff, conducting visits to the location involved and receiving specialist advice.
The person appointed as complaints investigator will usually be the manager of the service to which the complaint relates, as this will usually be the person with the most experience and knowledge of the service being complained about. There may be reasons why the complainant does not wish their complaint to be investigated in this way, and this can be discussed with the Complaints Manager to identify a way forward with the complaint investigation.
Once evidence has been collated and analysed the investigator will produce a written report setting out a summary of the complaint, methodology used during the investigation, key findings, conclusions and recommendations for action and remedy where appropriate.
It should be noted that mediation may be useful in some cases.
The investigating officers report will be sent to the complainant along with a covering letter outlining:
It may be agreed that an invitation to the complainant for a meeting in person to go through the points in the letter would be useful.
The complainant will be informed of their right to take the matter to the next stage of the complaints process if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint investigation
The Local Government Ombudsman defines unreasonably persistent complaints as “Those who, because of the frequency or nature of their contact with an authority, hinder the authority’s consideration of their, or other people’s, complaints”.
Complainants may be considered persistent or vexatious, for example by:
A log may be made to record all the actions that lead up to the decision to treat the complainant as a vexatious / unreasonably persistent complainant. The log will record the date, time and duration of any phone calls and a summary of the calls. The log will also document written correspondence, noting the date it was written and received and include a copy of the correspondence kept.
A number of options can be considered to regulate access from vexatious and persistent complainants:
Consider whether an advocate can be used to provide a bridge between the citizen identified as vexatious and the Council. To explore this option the Council’s Mediation Services can advise and may provide this service but in some cases a support worker, friend or personal contact of the complainant may be more suitable as long as they have the skills to remain objective and impartial.
Prior to classifying someone as vexatious / unreasonably persistent, a letter will be sent by Manchester City Council’s Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) to inform them their actions are being considered as such and if they continue, they will be treated as a vexatious / unreasonably persistent complainant.
If the prior warning is not issued by letter but instead conveyed in a phone call it must be recorded in the log.
When the Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) it is decided to treat someone as a vexatious / unreasonably persistent complainant, we will write to tell the complainant why we believe their behaviour falls into that category, what action we are taking to regulate their contact with the Council in relation to their complaint and the duration of that action.
The Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) will also tell them how they can challenge the decision if they disagree with it, this would normally be referring them to the Local Government Ombudsman. If we decide to carry on treating someone as an unreasonably persistent complainant, and we are still investigating their complaint six months later, a review will be carried out to decide if restrictions will continue.
The Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) will ensure a record of complaints is kept, including outcomes and lessons learned, together with any actions taken to improve services.
If a complaint investigation highlights errors on the part of the Council, an action plan will be completed by the Complaints Manager in conjunction with the Investigating Officer to highlight what the Council did wrong, why the Council did it wrong, what it will do to ensure this error is not repeated including timescales for implementation, and in some cases, evidence that this has been completed.
This information is regularly shared with all senior managers within Manchester City Council.
An annual report is also produced by the Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) and presented to senior managers and elected members before being published on our website. The annual report will include:
If a constituent chooses to address their enquiry, complaint or issue to a Councillor or MP they have the right to do so, however this falls outside the complaints process.
All contacts from Councillors or MPs on behalf of a constituent will therefore be treated as an enquiry. Councillors and MPs often approach individual officers directly; these contacts should be forwarded to the Manchester City Council’s Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) where they will be logged, acknowledged and allocated to an appropriate manager for a response to be prepared within the ten day timescale.
The Corporate Complaints Team (Adults) will identify if the enquiry is appropriate for this directorate or should be answered by other agencies, and will also identify if written consent is required.
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