Unreasonable or persistent complainants - Guidance

Whilst we remain committed to always dealing fairly, honestly, consistently and appropriately with all service users, there may be occasions where certain behaviour requires us to closely manage the contact between our staff and the complainant.

  • We do understand that people can act out of character in times of trouble or distress.

  • We do not view behaviour as unacceptable just because someone is forceful or determined.

  • We accept that being persistent can be a positive advantage when pursuing a complaint.

  • We believe that everyone who contacts us has the right to be heard, understood and respected. We also consider that our staff are entitled to the same rights.

Accepting the above the following behaviour will not be tolerated:

  • Aggression directed towards staff.

  • Abusive behaviour.

  • Unreasonable demands and/or unreasonable persistence.

Managing unacceptable actions by complainants

Actions that we might take include:

  • Restricting communication to one method of communication only i.e. by email.

  • Assigning one particular member of staff to deal with all correspondence.

Our intention will always be to maintain at least one form of contact however in extreme cases we may be required to advise a service user in writing that they must restrict contact with our office to either written communication or through a third party.

This decision is never taken lightly and a service user can appeal such a decision by contacting a Director of the Trust who will consider the appeal and advise the service user in writing of their decision.

A Senior Manager will monitor the behaviour of all service users with restricted contact arrangements as necessary and may consider removing the restrictions if future behaviour improves.

Aggressive or abusive behaviour

Examples include:

  • Threats.

  • Physical violence.

  • Personal verbal abuse.

  • Derogatory remarks and rudeness.

The Trust also considers that inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations can be abusive behaviour.

Violence is not restricted to acts of aggression that may result in physical harm. It also includes behaviour or language (whether oral or written) that may cause staff to feel afraid, threatened, or abused.

The threat or use of physical violence, verbal abuse, or harassment towards Trust staff is likely to result in the ending of all direct contact with the perpetrator. Incidents may be reported to the Police.

Unreasonable demands

Examples include:

  • Demanding responses within an unreasonable timescale.

  • Insisting on seeing or speaking to a particular member of staff.

  • Continual phone calls, emails, or letters.

  • Repeatedly changing the substance of the complaint or raising unrelated concerns.

  • When someone repeatedly telephones, visits the office without appointment, sends irrelevant or duplicate documents, or raises the same issues already considered.

When a person continues to correspond on a wide range of issues and this action is considered excessive, then the Trust will tell them that only a certain number of issues will be considered in a given period, and ask them to limit or focus their requests accordingly.

Unreasonable persistence

Examples include:

  • Persistent refusal to accept a decision or explanation made in relation to a complaint.

  • Continuing to pursue a case without presenting any new information.