1. A complaint may be defined as an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard or quality of service, action or lack of action, by the college or its staff, or its officers, affecting an individual or group of individuals in receipt of a service from the College. There is a separate College complaints procedure for College examinations.
2. The complaints procedure is not intended to be used as a primary appeals mechanism concerning examination results. For details on such a mechanism, please contact the Examinations Department.
The function of the complaints process
3. The primary function is to address the concerns of the complainant. This may include giving an apology, giving an explanation or giving an assurance that the matter has been investigated and action has been taken to prevent recurrence.
Time limits for complaints
4. A complaint should be made within eight weeks from the date of the incident that caused the problem or of discovering the problem.
How the College deals with complaints
5. If you are unable to resolve the issue informally you can write to the Chief Executive setting out the full details of the complaint, the consequences for you as a result and the remedy that you are seeking. Complaints can be sent to the College by post or email, addressed to:
The Chief Executive
The Royal College of Pathologists
6 Alie Street
Please note that we are unable to accept anonymous complaints.
6. The Chief Executive will send a written acknowledgement of the receipt of the complaint within five working days, which may include a request for further information.
7. The Chief Executive or a member of the Senior Management Team will normally be the person to investigate the complaint. Complaints involving the Chief Executive will be dealt with by the President.
8. A letter confirming the College’s official response will be sent from the investigator within 20 working days of the initial complaint arriving at the College. If further information is requested by the College the 20 day response will be from the receipt of this additional information. Inevitably, some issues will be more complex and therefore may require longer to be fully investigated. Consequently, the timescales given for handling and responding to complaints are indicative. If a matter requires more detailed investigation an interim response will be sent explaining why and giving a new deadline for the response.
9. At this stage many complaints will be resolved. If the complainant feels that a resolution has not been achieved they may seek to present their case to an appeal panel. If the complainant wishes to do this they must restate their complaint in writing and give the reasons why the College’s written response was unsatisfactory. They must also state what they expect from the appeal panel. Any appeal must be made within 20 working days of the letter giving the College’s response.
10. The appeal panel will meet within 30 working days of the receipt of the letter of appeal and will normally consist of the Chief Executive, President and two members of Council. The decision of the panel is final.
Conduct of the panel
11. The complainant will be invited to attend. They may be accompanied by one other person if they wish. Attendance is optional, but if this right is exercised the attendance of the complainant and their accompanying person will be at their own expense.
12. If in attendance the complainant will verbally present their appeal and the reasons for their dissatisfaction with the outcome to the panel. The panel may ask questions. The complainant and their accompanying person will then withdraw.
13. The panel will consider the matter and will notify the results of their conclusions to the complainant, in writing, within seven working days of meeting.
14. A central register of complaints will be maintained by the Chief Executive detailing the nature of the complaint and the outcome. The register will be reviewed on a periodic basis by the Trustee Board.