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General Ophthalmic Services Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007

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Complaints

10.—(1) Subject to sub-paragraphs (2) and (3), a contractor shall establish, and operate in accordance with this paragraph, a procedure (in this paragraph and in paragraph 11 referred to as a “complaints procedure”) to deal with any complaints made by or on behalf of his patients and former patients.

(2) The complaints procedure to be established by a contractor may be such that it also deals with complaints made in relation to one or more other contractors.

(3) The complaints procedure to be established by a contractor who provides general ophthalmic services from more than one set of premises may be such that it relates to all those premises together.

(4) A complaints procedure shall apply to complaints made in relation to any matter reasonably connected with the contractor’s provision of general ophthalmic services and within the responsibility or control of—

(a)the contractor;

(b)where the contractor is a body corporate, any of its directors or former directors;

(c)a former partner of the contractor;

(d)any other person (being an optician, an ophthalmic medical practitioner or a person authorised to test sight by rules made under section 24(3) of the Opticians Act 1989) who is either employed by the contractor or engaged as his deputy;

(e)any employee of the contractor other than one falling within head (d),

and in this paragraph and paragraph 11, references to complaints are to complaints falling within this sub-paragraph.

(5) A complaint may be made on behalf of a patient or former patient with his consent, or—

(a)where the patient is a child under the age of 16 years—

(i)by either parent, or in the absence of both parents, the guardian or the other adult person who has care of the child, or

(ii)where the child is in the care of an authority to whose care he has been committed under the provisions of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, by a person duly authorised by that authority, or;

(iii)where the child is in the care of a voluntary organisation, by that voluntary organisation or a person duly authorised by it, or

(iv)where the child is in a juvenile justice centre, by the Manager of that juvenile justice centre;

(b)where the patient is incapable of making a complaint, by a relative or other adult person who has an interest in his welfare.

(6) Where a patient has died, a complaint may be made by a relative or other adult person who had an interest in his welfare or, where the patient was as described in head (a)(ii), (iii), or (iv), of sub-paragraph (5), by the authority, voluntary organisation, or the Manager of the juvenile justice centre.

(7) A complaints procedure shall comply with the following requirements—

(a)the contractor must specify a person (who need not be connected with the contractor and who, in the case of an individual, may be specified by his job title) to be responsible for receiving and investigating all complaints;

(b)all complaints must be—

(i)recorded in writing,

(ii)acknowledged, either orally or in writing, within the period of three days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) beginning with and including the day on which the complaint was received by the person specified under head (a) or where that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable; and

(iii)properly investigated;

(c)within the period of 10 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) beginning with and including the day on which the complaint was received by the person specified under head (a), or where that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable, the complainant must be given a written summary of the investigation and its conclusions;

(d)where the investigation of the complaint requires consideration of the patient’s sight testing records, the person specified under head (a) must inform the patient or person acting on his behalf if the investigation will involve disclosure of information contained in those records to a person other than the contractor, or a director, partner, deputy or employee of the contractor; and

(e)the contractor must keep a record of all complaints and copies of all correspondence relating to complaints for a period of seven years from and including the date of the last correspondence relating to the complaint, but such records must be kept separate from all patients’ sight testing records.

(8) At each of the premises at which the contractor provides general ophthalmic services he must provide information about the complaints procedure which he operates and give the name (or title) and address of the person specified under sub-paragraph (7)(a).

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