The RCOG (‘the College’) strives to provide a professional, respectful and timely service in all our interactions with stakeholders and is committed to adhering to policies and procedures.
However, the College recognises that on occasions services may fall short of expectations; and the conduct of a College member, trainee, staff or representative might fall below expectations. If you believe you have experienced service or conduct that is below standard, you can use this complaints policy, which describes how to make a complaint and how it will be handled.
The Complaints Policy aims to:
- Provide a fair and transparent complaints procedure
- Facilitate anyone, including members of the public, to fairly and equitably express dissatisfaction or concern about any aspect of the College’s work or conduct or the work or behaviour of an individual or individuals working for or on behalf of the College, including the College’s fundraising activity
- Publicise the existence of the complaints procedure so that people know how to contact the College to make a complaint
- Ensure College staff know what to do if a complaint is received
- Provide information on the procedure to be followed both by complainant and respondent
- Ensure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely manner
- Ensure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved in a satisfactory manner. Use any complaints received as a learning experience to improve the work of the College.
The College is a member of the Fundraising Regulator and, as such, complies with the Code of Fundraising Practice.
Definition of a complaint and policy scope
A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction about the College’s work or conduct, or the conduct or behaviour of members, trainees, staff or College representatives.
The scope of this policy relates to:
- The conduct of a College employee
- The conduct of a College member, trainee or representative who is performing duties on behalf of the College, such as a College committee, who has failed to adhere to the expectations documented in the College Code of Conduct
- The professional conduct of a College member, trainee or representative of the College
- A third party performing duties on behalf of the College, such as a lay member or contractor/supplier
- Actions of the College governed by its legal duties
- Actions of the College governed by its Royal Charter, College Regulations, or Charity Code of Governance
- Actions of the College governed by its policies or procedures.
- Actions of the College associated with our fundraising activity.
Out of scope are:
- Examination appeals should be made via the College Examinations appeal policy
- Complaints about the College’s National Guideline Alliance developing NICE guidelines, should be directed to NICE
- Complaints that relate to the conduct of a College member whilst delivering work not directly associated with College activity, will in the first instance need to be raised and processes concluded locally, before the College’s Complaints policy can be invoked
- Complaints about the Disciplinary, Removal and reinstatements Committee (DRRC) or Appeal Panel decisions
- Note: in such circumstances, specifically related to fundraising, where you are not satisfied with the response received from the College, you still have the option of reporting concerns to the Fundraising Regulator.
How to make a complaint
To make a complaint, please email Complaints@rcog.org.uk ensuring you include the following information:
- Details of the nature of your complaint, including where relevant, names and dates and /or the College policy, process or Regulation not followed
- Available evidence to substantiate your complaint either within your email or as an attachment
- The remedy you are seeking in relation to your complaint
- Your name, address and daytime telephone contact number
Complaints should be submitted as soon as possible after the relevant incident. Ordinarily, this is within a month so that the College can effectively investigate and identify any remedy. We understand that there may be circumstances, including the nature of the alleged incident, where an individual needs time and support to come forward and the College will always respect this need. However, it should be noted that College investigations into complaints that relate to historical incidents may take additional time to progress and may not be fruitful or conclusive if there is limited or no access to documents and individuals. Complaints made in public forums or on social media will be investigated by the College and details might be requested.
How your complaint will be managed
We will acknowledge your complaint within two working days of its receipt. We will request any additional information required if items 1-4 above are not provided or further information is required to ascertain if the complaint is in scope or not. Please note that where requested information or further information is not made available the investigation may be delayed or prevented from continuing.
Within ten working days of receiving your complaint, we will confirm whether it falls within the scope of this policy and the appropriate next steps.
Complaints that relate to the conduct of a College member whilst delivering work not directly associated with College activity, will in the first instance need to be raised and processes concluded locally before the Colleges Complaints policy can be invoked.
An appropriately qualified member of College staff will be appointed as the Investigating Manager by the CEO and will gather the facts relevant to the complaint, ensuring that the information gathered is accurate and complete. The Investigating Manager may invite you to a meeting to discuss your complaint in person and may seek additional information from you. The protocol for the appointment and conduct of the Investigating Manager will be made available.
Following completion of the Investigating Manager’s investigation, the Complaints Manager will respond in writing to confirm the investigation outcome and the reasons for either upholding or rejecting the complaint. Where the College has upheld a complaint and proposes a remedy, all individuals affected will be contacted to discuss this further. Remedies might include (but are not exclusive to):
- For members, trainees or representatives
- To be asked to offer an apology
- Referral to the College’s DRRC, (see DRRC Referrals, below).
- For staff
- To be asked to offer an apology
- Informal warning via the staff Disciplinary procedure
- Formal warning via the staff Disciplinary procedure
- Gross acts of misconduct may lead to termination of employment via the staff Disciplinary procedure
- For general College activity
- A representative of the College to offer an apology
- A review of our position
- Issuing a remedy statement
In addition, if the complaint is upheld, the action taken and the lessons learned or to be learnt will be formally recorded by the Corporate Governance and Risk Manager in the College’s complaints register (annually reported to the Board of Trustees).
Taking your complaint outside of the College – Fundraising
If your complaint is about our fundraising work or activities and you are not satisfied with our response, you are entitled to take it to the Fundraising Regulator. As a member of the Fundraising Regulator, the College is committed to abiding by any decision they reach on complaints that are escalated to them.
Their contact details are:
The Fundraising Regulator, 2nd floor CAN Mezzanine Building, 49-51 East Road, London, N1 6AH
Telephone: 0300 999 3407
If the complaint is about an individual (the ‘respondent’), rather than the organisation, that person has the right to know that a complaint has been lodged. The College will ensure that the respondent is aware of the process of managing the complaint and what support and advice is available at each stage of the complaint, including how and when the respondent will be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint via the Investigating Manager. The respondent will also be informed of the possible sanctions available. The College will ensure that at no stage will the rights of anyone involved in the complaint be infringed.
If the complaint is in scope, related to an individual (respondent) and deemed to be of a serious enough nature to warrant consideration of suspension of duties, the College President will, as part of the DRRC referral process, make a decision regarding temporary suspension of official College duties whilst the investigation is ongoing. (This process is defined in our College Regulations, point 23.4).
The following process applies both to the person making the complaint and the respondent, i.e. the person about whom the complaint has been made.
If you are unhappy about the outcome of the complaint, you can request a review within ten working days of receiving the College’s response to the complaint. You must provide sufficient new and relevant evidence to substantiate your appeal. This could include evidence that the College did not follow its protocol in the initial investigation. The College cannot review a decision with which you disagree if there is no new evidence to consider.
Note: For complaints about the RCOG’s fundraising, where you are not satisfied with the response received from the College, you still have the option of reporting concerns to the Fundraising Regulator.
Your request for a review will be acknowledged within two working days of receipt.
Within ten working days, the College will confirm whether sufficient further evidence has been provided in order for this to be considered as part of a review of the complaint.
A different College Investigating Manager, appointed by the CEO, who has not been involved in any aspect of your complaint, will consider your request for a review and respond to you with reasons for either upholding or rejecting your review. Where the College has proposed a remedy you will be contacted about this. In addition, if the review is upheld, the action taken and the lessons learned or to be learnt will be formally recorded by the College’s Corporate Governance and Risk Manager.
Your complaint and all accompanying documentation will be kept confidential as far as is possible in facilitating a fair and thorough investigation. The privacy rights of all the individuals concerned and any potentially confidential information will be respected and upheld; this needs to be balanced with:
- The need for an open and fair investigation, including contacting the person against whom a complaint has been made for a response where appropriate
- Appropriate remedial action to be taken
- The outcome of the investigation to be reported appropriately
- Action to be taken to improve our processes and quality of service
The College will endeavour to anonymise complainants when considering complaints. However, it will occasionally be necessary to disclose a complainant’s identity beyond the Investigating Manager to progress an investigation. Complainants who are not willing for their identity to be disclosed in this way should make this clear in their letter of a formal complaint.
The College will take all necessary steps to support all parties involved in a complaint, and undertake all investigations sensitively and expediently.
Complainants are assured that they have the opportunity to raise matters of legitimate concern through this policy without risk of disadvantage or criticism.
All materials relating to your complaint will be kept on active file for six years from the date of conclusion of your complaint and will then be destroyed.
Where complaints against a respondent member of the College are considered to be so serious that they merit consideration by the College’s DRRC, the Investigating Manager must refer the case to the College CEO who will decide the most appropriate Officer to escalate the case to. This will be the President unless there is a conflict of interest. Only the President or nominated Officer may make referrals to the College’s DRRC. This referral will be made before any conclusion has been reached by the Investigating Manager. At this point the College’s DRRC processes and the College’s Regulations will supersede this Complaints Policy and Procedure.
The College reserves the right at its sole discretion to decline to take forward any complaint where in its opinion the complaint is malicious, vexatious or is motivated in a way which the College considers unacceptable. In such a case the College will advise the complainant that the complaint will not be taken forward and the reasons for that.
The term ‘member’ refers to anyone in a category of RCOG membership including, but not limited to Fellow, Member, Associate.
This is version 3 of the Complaints policy and procedures document, and was approved 21 March 2021.