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Online complaints from patients

The increased use of social media has lead the the increase ease in which patients can feedback about their experiences.  Often, this is positive but in some cases it is used as an outlet of discontent.  


To help you manage these situations, we’ve compiled some useful tips.




Remember confidentiality.

Limit your public response.

Highlight your legal and professional duty of confidentiality.  

It may be appropriate to give general information about your usual practices.



Don’t air your dirty laundry in public.

Limit your public response.

Public disputes can worsen conflict and may undermine confidence in the profession.



Stay calm.

A defensive or combative knee jerk response may worsen the conflict.



Respond in a timely manner.

Feedback is more effective when received at the time of an incident when the facts are fresh in your memory.  

The complainant will think more positively to a rapid response about their complaint.



Be grateful for feedback, whether it’s positive of negative.

Thank the patient for their comments.  

It will help to de-escalate conflict.



Apologise.

Apologise for any upset that the complainant feels.  

An apology about feelings is not a confession of guilt, it’s empathetic.

This will also help to de-escalate conflict.



Investigate the issue.

Explain that you take all concerns seriously and that you will investigate the matter further.



Follow established processes.

Invite the patient to contact you in the usual way at your Practice highlighting the routes outlined in your complaints procedure.

If you don’t already have a social media zero tolerance notice and policy, consider creating one.



Ask for help

If you need support or advice on how to respond, contact Doncaster LMC or your medical defence organisation.





Downloads and Links


Defamation Act 2013