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This policy details the procedures APDO will follow in the event of a complaint being made to APDO about an APDO member.
At APDO we take complaints seriously and our policy is to deal promptly with any complaints received in a way which is fair, proportionate, transparent and effective.
We will be outcome-focused in resolving any complaints and endeavour to resolve all complaints sensitively and to the satisfaction of all parties. Our aim is to have a complaints procedure which is clear, straightforward and easy to follow, and we would welcome any feedback or suggestions on how we could improve our policy.
We have carefully considered the Six Principles of Good Complaints Handling, which were identified by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman following a consultation in the summer of 2008, when devising our complaints handling policy.
We promise to keep you informed about the progress of your complaint and to let you know if there is likely to be a delay for any reason in your complaint being investigated and resolved.
In line with our stated aims as detailed above, you can expect that we will deal with your complaint fairly, sensitively, transparently and promptly.
We will treat you with dignity and respect, and without discrimination.
We will keep the details of any complaints we receive confidential, and details will only be disclosed to other members of the APDO Board, if required, in line with step 5 below.
You can expect us to deal with complaints consistently, whilst retaining sufficient flexibility to allow us to take account of the circumstances of your own individual case, including the seriousness of the complaint and its effects on you, and how your complaint has so far been dealt with by the APDO member concerned.
Any investigation carried out by APDO will only involve members of the Board who are not party to your complaint and so can investigate objectively and without prior judgement.
We will always act fairly towards our APDO members and will treat them in the same way that we treat you; fairly, sensitively and without discrimination or prior judgement.
Before taking the step of making a complaint to us, it is important to be clear about what exactly it is that you are complaining about, and what outcome you would like to achieve. This will not only help you in terms of pursuing your complaint but will also help the other party and those investigating to understand your position clearly.
It would be helpful if you could identify:
In the first instance, please direct your complaint in writing to the APDO member whose services you engaged. In order to deal with your complaint, they will need the information detailed above in step 1. APDO will not be prepared to investigate any complaint unless this action is taken – unless there are exceptional circumstances for not contacting the APDO member in the first instance (Please contact us for advice if you feel your complaint falls within this exception).
We would expect our members to respond to any complaint lodged with them promptly. Good practise dictates that you should expect an acknowledgment of your complaint within 72 hours, although there may be occasions when this is not possible (e.g. holidays, illness). Please allow the APDO member a reasonable amount of time to consider and deal with your complaint. Depending on the circumstances, we would expect you to have received an acknowledgment of your complaint within 7 days and a substantive response within 7 days thereafter e.g. within 14 days of lodging your complaint.
In most cases, we envisage that the APDO member concerned will be able to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction and agree a mutually acceptable outcome with you. In cases where your complaint is not resolved, please proceed to step 3.
Where your complaint has not been resolved by following step 2, please contact APDO directly via the contact page on our website https://www.apdo.co.uk and submit all details regarding your complaint in writing. Please provide as much detail as you can about your complaint, which will then be passed to the APDO Board Representative for investigation. The Board Representative will acknowledge your complaint, in writing, as soon as possible after it is received and in any event within 72 hours of receipt – unless this is not possible (e.g. holidays, illness) in which case acknowledgment will be made as soon as practically possible.
The Board Representative will treat all parties (including the person you are complaining about) fairly, sensitively and without discrimination or prior judgment and will take into account all written documentation and any other evidence when investigating your complaint.
Once the investigation is complete, the APDO Board Representative will notify both you and the APDO member of the Initial Findings and Preliminary Decision, in writing. You should normally expect to receive this notification within 7 days of acknowledgment of your complaint.
Both you and the APDO member will then have an opportunity to comment in writing on the Initial Findings and Preliminary Decision, and we would usually expect to receive any such comments within 7 days, although we can and will agree to a longer period of time if necessary, fair to all parties and appropriate.
Once those comments are received, the APDO Board Representative will review their Initial Findings and Preliminary Decision in light of such comments, and then make a Final Decision. Both parties will be notified of the APDO Board Representative’s Final Decision in writing within 7 days of the Review taking place.
The Final Decision will contain details of whether the original complaint is upheld, and if so, what steps we require the APDO member to take regarding resolving your complaint. We will allow the APDO member a reasonable period of time within which to take such action as is required (usually within 7 days of notification of the Final Decision), and that period of time will be detailed in the Final Decision document.
Where the APDO member fails to carry out such actions within the timescale required, and has not lodged an Appeal pursuant to step 5, their membership may be terminated by the APDO Board.
Where the original complaint is not upheld, we will explain the reasons in the Final Decision document.
Where you have followed steps 1 – 4 of the APDO complaints procedure and have received a Final Decision that you do not find satisfactory, you have a Final Right of Appeal within APDO. The APDO member against whom the complaint was lodged has the same Right of Appeal, if they are dissatisfied with the Final Decision of the APDO Board Representative.
If you wish to exercise this right, you must within 7 days of receiving notification of the final decision, notify APDO in writing of your wish to Appeal to the Board for a Review of the Final Decision.
In this instance, the requirement for the APDO member to undertake any actions or remedies as detailed in the Final Decision document will be suspended, pending the outcome of the Appeal.
Where the Right of Appeal is exercised in line with step 5, the full details of the complaint including any and all representations made and evidence gathered, will be submitted to three independent members of the Board – all of whom will have had no prior knowledge of or involvement in the investigation of your complaint.
Each of the three Board members will review the information, then decide whether to uphold the Final Decision of the Board Representative. The decision will be taken by majority vote.
Where the Final Decision is upheld that decision and the remedies required pursuant to it, will stand and be binding on both parties. There is no further right of appeal.
Where the Board members do not uphold the Final Decision of the Board Representative, they will substitute their own Final Decision on Appeal, which will then be binding on both parties. There is no further right of appeal.