Anonymous Complaints

All anonymous complaints, both written and verbal, should be recorded and brought to the attention of the relevant line manager for a decision as to whether quality improvements are required on the basis of the complaint.

It is the policy of the HSE that Complainants must provide contact details when making a complaint against the HSE to enable appropriate validation, follow up and investigation of that complaint unless there is a good and sufficient reason for withholding this information.

Anonymous complaints will not normally be investigated as there is always a possibility that they are vexatious or malicious and the anonymity of the Complainant does not enable the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness to be upheld. Notwithstanding the fact the anonymous complaints cannot be the subject of a formal investigation unless there is supporting evidence, management should assure themselves that the systems in place are robust and the welfare of patients/clients is not at risk.

If the complaint is made by phone, or by person, the member of staff taking the complaint should encourage the caller to provide a name and telephone number at which they may be contacted.

The caller should be advised that unless they provide their name and contact details, it may not be possible to investigate the complaint if the disclosure of identity is regarded as essential to facilitate a full and proper investigation of the complaint.

If a Complainant makes a complaint in confidence, the identity of the Complainant will only be known to the recipient of the complaint and the Complaint Officer. If the investigation of the complaint requires the identity of the Complainant to be disclosed, the consent of the Complainant must be obtained to disclose this information. In this case, the Complainant must be informed that it may not be possible to carry out a full and proper investigation of the complaint without their consent to disclose their identity. (Confidentiality can never be guaranteed due to Freedom of Information Legislation).

If an anonymous complaint provides details that enable the identification of individual staff members, these details must be anonymised and there must be no record of an anonymous complaint on the file of any individual staff members.

The Complaints Officer is responsible for trending anonymous complaints within his/her area of responsibility and for providing the Hospital Group Chief Executive Officer / Community Healthcare Organisation Chief Officer with this information.