Complaints Procedure

 

Our Complaint Procedure

We are committed to providing high-quality services and we will resolve any problems in our services as quickly as possible. We also consider complaints to be an important source of information for improving our services for the future.

The Complaints Procedure is split into informal and formal complaints. The College hopes to be able to resolve most complaints on an informal basis. Therefore, you are asked to pursue the informal complaints procedure before invoking the formal complaints procedure.

You should normally complain within 6 months of the event(s) concerned or within 6 months of becoming aware that you have something to complain about. We do have discretion to waive this time limit if there are good reasons why you could not complain earlier.

The complaints procedure is available in other formats on request (e.g. enlarged type or coloured paper; other formats may be possible).

The complaints procedure can be used by anyone in receipt of College services, including patients/clients, students and recent students (defined as having had their final award determined by the Progression and Finalists Board within the last six months or having withdrawn within the last six months.  Current students include those on an approved leave of absence/suspension of studies).

Definition of a Complaint

We define a complaint as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction relating to academic, clinical or administrative services, when the complainant has drawn their concern to the attention of the College’.

This definition does not include complaints that are covered by the following separate College procedures detailed in the College handbook for students:

  • Probation, Suspension or Exclusion and Appeals
  • Student Grievances and Appeals.

The Registrar, in consultation with the Principal, will decide if a complaint is made which is better dealt with by following one of the above procedures.

Appeals relating to admissions processes and decisions, including eligibility for transferred credit, should be dealt with by following the Admissions Appeals and Complaints Policy and Procedure in the first instance.

Formal appeals are also excluded from the complaint procedures.  We define a formal appeal as ‘a request for a review of a decision taken by an individual or academic body charged with making decisions on students’ progression, assessment and awards’.  These decisions include:

  • Marks for assessments and examinations
  • Arrangements and guidance for assessments and examinations
  • Requirements for awarding qualifications

The College and University Verification and Appeals Procedures, detailed in the College Handbook, cover these.

On occasion a student may submit a complaint which is better dealt with as an appeal or as a grievance, or vice versa. The Registrar, in consultation with the Principal, will decide on re-classification of appeals as complaints or grievances and vice versa.

Professional Negligence

Any serious case of clinical professional negligence should be referred to the relevant professional body in the UK. Further details of this procedure can be obtained from the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM), or for nutritional therapy, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

Informal Complaint

If you experience problems with any aspect of our academic, clinical or administrative services, you should raise your concerns immediately by speaking to a member of staff. They may be able to resolve your concerns without the need to make a more formal complaint. In some cases a staff member will be able to take rapid corrective action, often acting together with other College staff. Other options for resolving an informal complaint include arranging a face-to-face discussion, an informal arbitration process or an informal internal enquiry as a first attempt to find a resolution.

When you make a complaint, please tell us what outcome(s) you are hoping to achieve from your complaint.

If at all possible, please address your complaint to the member of staff most directly involved in the event leading to the complaint, in order to give that person the opportunity to address your concerns. If for any reason you not feel that this is possible, you should seek advice from the College Manager, Principal or Course Director in order to identify an appropriate alternative mechanism of early resolution.

In some cases a staff member will be able to take rapid corrective action, often acting together with other College staff. Other options for resolving an informal complaint include arranging a face-to-face discussion, an informal arbitration process or an informal internal enquiry as a first attempt to find a resolution. The College’s “sorting out” process provides a helpful structure for a face-to-face discussion, and a third party can be involved in this process to provide informal arbitration if necessary. If an informal internal enquiry is necessary, one or more members of staff who are not involved in the complaint will be asked by the College Manager or Principal to conduct an initial investigation and make recommendations. The investigator(s) will make every effort to enable the clear articulation of the issue and to resolve the complaint simply and quickly. The investigator(s) may invite you to a meeting to discuss the matter in an attempt to reach a resolution.

If you have told us about problems and you are not satisfied with our response, you may wish to make a formal complaint.  The formal complaints policy and procedure is detailed below.

Formal Complaint

Stage One

Contact the member of staff responsible for providing the service you are complaining about. If you want to complain about more than one area, you should either contact each area separately or write to the College Manager. If you are not sure which member of staff to contact, ask our Reception staff.

To make sure that we record your complaint accurately you should put it in writing (if you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to send a written complaint, please contact us so that we can discuss alternatives) and send it to us by post or email. Concise numbered points can be a helpful way to set the situation out clearly. You must provide your name in order to make a formal complaint.

We will send you a reply within 10 working days of receiving your complaint. If we can’t give you a full reply within that time, we will advise you when we will be able to do so. To guarantee confidentiality, we will send our reply to you by post, unless you ask us to reply by email.

Stage Two

If, when you receive our reply to your complaint, you are not satisfied that we have done everything possible to answer it, you can ask the College Principal to review your case. At this stage in the complaint process, you should put your complaint in writing (if you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to send a written complaint, please contact us so that we can discuss alternatives) and send it to the College Principal.

You should include:

  • Full details of your complaint and all matters relating to it
  • Details of other areas of the College that you have had contact with in relation to your complaint
  • Copies of any previous correspondence with us related to your complaint.

You should also tell us what you think we should do to resolve your complaint.

The Principal or their representative will send you an acknowledgement of your complaint within five working days of receiving it, and will tell you which senior member of staff has been asked to reply. The senior member of staff will send you a full reply within 10 working days of the date of the Principal’s acknowledgement letter or, if that is not possible, contact you again to let you know when you can expect a full reply.

Stage Three

If, when you have a full reply from the senior member of staff, you are still not satisfied that we have done everything possible to answer your complaint, you can ask the Principal to refer it to the Board of Directors/Trustees.

The Principal or their representative will acknowledge your request within five working days. The Directors/Trustees will investigate whether we have handled the matter fairly in line with our policy and procedures, and whether we should do anything else. The Directors/Trustees will reply to your complaint within 15 working days of the date of the Principal’s acknowledgement letter or, if that is not possible, contact you again to let you know when you can expect a full reply.

This stage may take longer because the Directors/Trustees will need to see previous correspondence and may seek advice from other areas, and may also wish to discuss things with you. The reply from the Directors/Trustees, will explain the basis of their decision. The Directors’/Trustees’ decision is final.

Rights and Responsibilities

We will:

  • Deal with all complaints within the time limits set out in this policy;
  • Make sure that we deal with all the points you raise, and that our replies explain the outcomes clearly;
  • Handle your complaint confidentially and only give people the information that is needed to carry out a proper investigation and make a full response;
  • Keep records of all complaints;
  • We will store records of complaints separate from other records;
  • Make sure that no complaint you have made in good faith will be used to your disadvantage in the future;
  • Treat all complaints with equal importance;
  • Treat an anonymously made complaint as an informal complaint; and
  • Always be polite.

 

What you should do:

If you are making a complaint, you should:

  • Give us full details of your complaint;
  • Deal sensitively with issues that involve students or staff;
  • State your name and contact details, if making a formal complaint; and
  • Always be polite.

 

Complaints against the Principal

Personal complaints made against the Principal should be sent to the College Board of Directors/Trustees.

 

Vexatious Complaints

A complaint can be rejected at any stage if an investigation into the complaint finds that it is vexatious in nature. A vexatious complaint is one that is manifestly unjustified, inappropriate or improper. In deciding whether a complaint is vexatious, the investigation will consider the motive, context and history in which a complaint is made. In identifying vexatious complaints, we will do our best to distinguish between complainants who are raising genuine concerns and people who are simply being difficult. We recognise that:

  • complainants may often be aggrieved, frustrated or have other reasons for their behaviour, and therefore the focus must be on careful consideration of the merits of the case rather than the attitude of the complainant; and
  • every complaint must be considered on its merits and, even if someone has made a vexatious complaint in the past, it must not be assumed that any other complaint they make will also be vexatious.

The need to consider every complaint on its merits cannot be over-emphasised. However, Indicators of vexatious complaints include abusive or aggressive language, unfounded accusations, personal grudges, frequent or overlapping complaints, unreasonable persistence, unreasonable demands or expectations of our resources, intransigence, trivial or frivolous complaints which are out of proportion to their significance, and complaints which remain vague and undefined despite our attempts to help you to clarify them.

Support and advocacy

Various forms of support and advocacy are available to complainants.  Please ask the Registrar or Principal for advice.

Students can also ask for support with a complaint from their personal tutor, a fellow student, or student rep.

Group Complaints

Occasionally a group of people may wish to complain. A group must nominate a single spokesperson to speak on their behalf. The College will work with the spokesperson to ensure as far as possible that the views of all members of the group are fairly represented.

Complaints to Middlesex University

The College uses its own regulations for handling student appeals and complaints and therefore Middlesex University regulations relating to appeals and complaints (Section G) does not apply to NCA students.

Complaints to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)

Office of Independent Adjudicator

Once the College’s complaints procedures have been exhausted, you may be able to complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.  The OIA’s website contains details all the pertinent details at www.oiahe.org.uk

We will write to your at the completion of any formal complaint process or appeals process, and this letter will meet the OIA’s requirements for a “completion of procedures” Letter.

Sources of Advice

If you would like advice prior to making a complaint or at any point in the complaint procedure, the College Manager or Principal will be happy to help you.

College Manager

Alison Edwards

61 Micklegate, York, YO1 6LJ

Tel: 01904 343300

Email: Alison Edwards

College Principal

Richard Blackwell

61 Micklegate, York, YO1 6LJ

Tel: 01904 343301

Email: Richard Blackwell

 

Also, if you are not satisfied after pursuing the College’s complaints process you can contact:

British Acupuncture Council (BAcC)

63 Jeddo Road

London W12 9HQ

Tel: 020 8735 0400

Fax: 020 8735 0404

Email:

Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM)

Office 5, 1 Exeter Street, Norwich, NR2 4QB

Tel: 01603 623994

Fax: 01603 667557

Email:

Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)

Albert Buildings, 49 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4N 4SA

Tel: 020 7653 1971

Email:

Complaints to Nutritional Therapy Education Commission (NTEC)

It is possible to complain to the NTEC if you think there is a breach of an Essential Requirement, criterion, policy or procedure of the NTEC.  Refer to the NTEC Accreditation Handbook at:
http://www.nteducationcommission.org.uk/trainers.html .
The NTEC will not normally pursue a complaint unless you have already followed the College’s grievance or complaints procedures.

Ensuring Effectiveness of the Procedure

The Academic Board will receive a summary of all formal complaints from students, and of informal complaints from students when they are cumulative, when complaints relate to the quality of students’ learning experiences. The Board of Directors/Trustees will receive a summary of all other formal complaints and of informal complaints when they are cumulative. These are standard agenda items for both Boards.

Management team agendas also have a standard item "Corrective and Preventative Actions" which is used to discuss any complaints, concerns or other feedback received from students, staff or patients/clients (as well as any positive praise received). This importantly includes informal complaints or concerns.

The focus of these processes is on ensuring that issues have ben resolved to the satisfaction of all parties wherever possible, and that lessons for the future are identified and acted on.

Formal complaints, and informal complaints when cumulative, will inform the internal processes of evaluation and performance review.

The complaints procedure will be reviewed bi-annually.  Both the Academic Board and the Board of Directors/Trustees will agree proposed amendments.

 

Policy dated April 2016 Reviewed by Academic Board Next review due November 2019