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Guidelines for Handling Patients Complaints

The document Gauteng Department of Health: Guidelines for handling patients' complaints was used as a basis for this procedure.

Four basic steps are to be followed:
Step 1: Capturing the complaint
Step 2: Investigating the problem
Step 3: Responding to the complainant
Step 4: Turning the complaint into a strategic asset

The clinic manager must keep a register of all complaints. All documents regarding a complaint (eg the response letter) must be filed with the original complaint. Complaint forms are available in Zulu, Afrikaans, English, Tsonga, Sepedi and Tswana. Procedure:

1.The person receiving the complaint (from the client in person, a third party or the complaint box) captures the complaint on a standard form.The clinic manager must unlock the complaint box daily in the presence of a member of the quality assurance team and record the number of complaints received.

2. The clinic manager investigates and solves the problem within 48 hours.If the problem cannot be solved, he or she must refer it to the next level of management.

3. The clinic manager sends a letter to acknowledge receipt of the complaint to the complainant within 48 hours after receiving the complaint.After the investigation, he or she must send a letter stating the outcome of the investigation to the complainant (within a week of completion of the investigation).

4. Each complainant must receive a reference number.

5. Complaints must be categorised according to the attached "Classification of patient complaints".

6. A complaints register consisting of complaint forms (copy attached) must be available to monitor the number of complaints, their frequency and source, and trends, so as to improve the quality of service delivery.Original completed forms must remain at the clinic and a copy must be sent to the relevant area manager.

7. The clinic manager completes the monthly complaint statistics form and submits it to the relevant area manager (Deputy Director: Primary Health Care Operations or Deputy Director: Primary Health Care Policy and Programmes Compliance).

8. The area manager assesses the register quarterly to improve the quality of service.

9. Complaints must be discussed by the Primary Health Care Facility Committee. This committee must also be informed on corrective actions so as to be able to give feedback to the community.

Important: - Display a flow chart in the clinic on the management of complaints and add contact details.

  • Ensure that the flow chart is in the languages of the clinic's feeding area.
  • Handle complaints from patients received through councillors in the same way.
  • Handle telephonic complaints in the same way.
  • Assist illiterate complainants to complete the forms.

  • Attend to anonymous complaints and report the action taken in the statistics forms.
  • Suggestions - Ensure that suggestion forms are available in the local languages.

  • Capture the suggestions.
  • Discuss the suggestions at the monthly clinic meeting.
  • Decide whether a resolution can be made and implemented.
  • Give feedback to the person who made the suggestion.
  • Compliments - Enter all compliments received on the monthly statistics form.

  • Discuss the compliments at the staff meeting and acknowledge the staff concerned.
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