This page outlines the Royal Free Charity’s commitment to managing complaints in relation to the service provided by the charity. It also provides information about how we manage, respond to and learn from complaints made about our services.

Download our full policy and procedure regarding complaints.

The charity will treat complaints seriously and ensure that complaints, concerns and issues raised by service users, volunteers, donors and their representatives are properly investigated in an unbiased, non-judgmental, transparent, timely and appropriate manner.

The outcome of any investigation, along with any resulting actions, will be explained to the complainant by the investigating officer.

The Royal Free Charity’s complaint process meets the requirements of the Fundraising Regulator, the charity sector’s independent, non-statutory body that regulates fundraising across the charitable sector in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As a member of the scheme, we follow the Fundraising Regulator’s Code of Fundraising Practice.

The complaints process

A complaint can be made:

  • by telephone: 020 7472 6677
  • by email: [email protected]
  • by post: Royal Free Charity, The Pears Building, Pond Street, London,  NW3 2PP

On receiving a complaint, by whatever means, this will be recorded on a complaint recording form, detailed in appendix 1. The individual receiving the complaint will request supporting evidence from the complainant and pass the complaint form to a member of the senior management team for them to:

(i) detail the complaint on the charity’s complaint log

(ii) allocate an investigating officer as detailed in appendix 2

(iii) where applicable, notify the relevant line manager.

The log entry will include the name and contact details of the complainant and their relationship with the charity (eg service user, donor, event participant, customer or volunteer) together with details of the nature of their complaint and the date of the incident giving rise to the complaint.

The investigating officer will write to the complainant to acknowledge the complaint and will aim to do this no later than five working days after the day the complaint is received. The acknowledgement will usually be in writing but can be verbally in some circumstances although this should be the exception rather than the norm.

The acknowledgement will detail:

  • how the complaint will be handled
  • the timescales for responding
  • how the investigation will be conducted
  • how the complainant will be advised of the outcome.

The investigating officer will investigate the complaint and aim to issue a formal response within 20 working days of the complaint being received.

The investigating officer will capture relevant information about the case and ensure this is accurately recorded, including any necessary data collection.

A complainant should expect:

  • to be kept up to date with the progress of their complaint
  • that if a case has passed the 20-working day target (or the timescale agreed with the complainant if different), the complainant (and advocate if relevant) should receive an update every 10 working days after the target has been surpassed. This could be by telephone, email or letter. The format should be agreed with the complainant.
  • to receive a quality response with assurance that action has been taken to prevent a recurrence if the complaint is found to merited
  • to be informed of anything that has been learnt from the complaint and investigation.
  • that the charity’s response to a complainant is,  wherever possible, by the complainant’s preferred method of communication. Email correspondence will be responded to by email only when the complainant has expressly requested this as their method of communication and security measures will be implemented to protect personal information sent via email.

Once the investigating officer has concluded the report, a summary of the findings, the outcome and any lessons learned will be sent to the complainant, including information on the next stages of the complaint’s procedure should the complainant wish to take matters further.

Wherever possible, Royal Free Charity team members are informed if a complaint has been made about them or actions for which they were responsible; we have a duty of care to Royal Free Charity team members who are the subject of a complaint as well as to complainants and we are committed to ensuring that team members have an opportunity to respond to the allegations made.

We investigate complaints thoroughly and fairly to establish the facts of the case. This includes reviewing all relevant evidence and might include speaking to any individuals complained about as well as the complainant and any third parties involved.

Reaching a decision

As soon as it is reasonably possible after completing the investigation, and within the timescale agreed with the complainant, the charity will send a formal response in writing to the complainant which will be signed by the investigating officer.

The response will include:

  • an explanation of how the complaint has been considered
  • an apology if appropriate
  • an explanation based on facts
  • whether the complaint in full or in part is upheld
  • the conclusions reached in relation to the complaint including any remedial action that the organisation considered to be appropriate
  • confirmation that the organisation is satisfied any action has been or will be actioned
  • information and contact details of the chief executive and board of trustees for the next stage of the process, if the complainant is not satisfied with the response.

We keep a record of the complaints we receive, the outcomes of any investigations and the reasons for any decisions. The charity’s management team regularly review any complaints we receive to identify any trends or wider learning.

Further steps

If the complainant is unhappy with the outcome of the investigation and final outcome, they may at this stage escalate the complaint to the charity’s chief executive, with copies of all correspondence and case documentation. The chief executive will then decide whether or not to uphold the response of the investigating officer.

Within 10 days the chief executive will write to the complainant with their final decision and the reasons for it. Whether the complaint is upheld or not, the reply to the complainant should describe what action will be taken as a result of the complaint.

If the complainant is still not happy, the case may be escalated to the chair of the board of trustees who will consider all the facts afresh and then decide what the final response of the charity will be.

Within 10 days the chair of the trustees will write to the complainant with this final decision and the reasons for it.

The complainant may contact the Charity Commission or the Fundraising Regulator for further advice if they are still unhappy.