Courses | Sector Specific

Effective Responses to Complaints in Healthcare

Developing written skills to respond to complaints

  • Sector Specific
  • Time
    09:15 - 16:15
  • CPD Certified
  • Venue
    etc. Venues - Marble Arch
  • Sue Calthorpe
  • Chaired by:

    Sue Calthorpe

Tue 31




Figures from NHS Digital show that there were 198,739 written complaints from 2015 – 2016. This is the equivalent to 3,822 written complaints a week or 544 complaints per day.

Successive reviews have highlighted that complaint handlers can lack the necessary skills to deal with the range of issues which arise most frequently. The Care Quality Commission has also placed significant emphasis on evidencing comprehensive complaints handling procedures. In order to competently deal with complaints, NHS staff must be able to write an effective letter response.

This Effective Responses to Complaints in Healthcare course, led by communications specialist Sue Calthorpe, will focus on discussing and delivering effective complaints letter writing skills, through a combination of expert tutor input, group discussion and practical, supported exercises. Delegates will leave the day with the techniques and the confidence to respond effectively and efficiently to complaints through letters. Participants will also receive a course handbook for use as a reference tool in the workplace.

  • Understand what is working and what needs improvement in hospital complaints letter writing
  • Learn from best practice how to respond to a complaint
  • Effectively assess and plan your reply
  • Develop practical written techniques to elicit information from colleagues
  • Create credible correspondence moving forward


  • 09:15 - 09:45

    Coffee and Registration
  • 09:45 - 10:00

    Trainer's Welcome and Introduction
  • 10:00 - 10:45

    Patient Complaints: What is Working – and What Needs to Improve
    • Respond to reviews that highlight the need for better complaint handling
    • Overview of trends and insight into the most common complaints
    • Lack of information, dignity and care, comments on staff attitudes and lack of resources
    • Understand the effect complaints have on both NHS staff and patients and their families
  • 10:45 – 11:30

    Best and Bad Practice
    • Assess a range of real-life correspondence
    • Identify best practice use of style, tone, vocabulary, presentation of facts and evidence and expert comment
  • 11:30 - 11:45

  • 11.45 – 12:45

    Assessing and Planning Your Reply
    • Understand how patients want their complaint handled and what they expect from the reply
    • Develop planning tools to create a suitable reply
    • Identify ‘trigger’ point from correspondence to provide better responses
  • 12:45 - 13:45

  • 13.45 – 14:30

    Asking for Answers

    One of the most challenging aspects of handling correspondence is getting a timely response from colleagues who hold vital information.

    • Ensure that your response is delivered efficiently
    • Develop practical written techniques to elicit information from colleagues
  • 14:30 - 16:00

    Creating Credible Correspondence

    In this practical session, delegates will create and give feedback on a range of letters to review and refresh personal skills.

    • Utilise skills developed throughout the day to create letters
    • Develop your own best practice
    • Identify areas for improvement
  • 16:00 - 16:15

    Closing Remarks and End

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