Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Code of Practice on Complaints

Part 1: Introduction

Purpose of the Code

1.1 This Code sets out the arrangements for handling complaints within the National Museums & Galleries of Wales

1.2 It deals with the Museum's internal procedures for the investigation of complaints about actions and perceived failures on the part of NMGW. However it does not provide for review of the substance of decisions taken by NMGW acting properly within its legal powers. Nor is it intended as a substitute or exclusion of any legal remedy that may be available to the complainant

Specific Complaints Procedure

1.3 Part 2 of the code sets out NMGW's internal complaints procedure for handling complaints. However, it does not substitute for any specific complaints procedures such as those provided by, for example:

  • National Assembly for Wales
  • Re:source
  • Welsh Language Act

Specific procedures apply for complaints arising from the Welsh Language Act

Status of this Code

1.4 This Code is not a legal document

Part 2

Internal Procedures for Considering Complaints

2.1 The Director NMGW shall ensure that procedures are in place so that:

  • Complaints about NMGW's actions or omissions are acknowledged and properly investigated; and

  • complainants are kept informed about the progress of investigations and replied to, with remedies provided as appropriate

2.2 The Director shall arrange for the publication of these procedures

2.3 In order to monitor performance and to ensure that complaints are handled effectively all complaints will be forwarded to the Director of Strategic Communications and will be registered by a specific member of staff - the Head of Administration - who will fulfil the role of 'Complaints Officer'.

2.4 To meet these requirements, NMGW will operate a complaints system which will encompass the following principles:

Courtesy

NMGW will treat all complainants with courtesy and understanding

Accessibility

The system will be easy to understand, easy to access and well publicised

Timely and Informative

There will be clear limits for taking action to deal with the complaint

The Museum will keep complainants informed of progress

Fairness

As far as possible, all parties will be given the opportunity to provide evidence

Further Review

If the complaint falls within the scope of the Code, complainants have the right to pursue their complaint if not satisfied, until it has been reviewed by a panel chaired by a person who is independent of the Museum

Effectiveness

NMGW will examine thoroughly all aspects of the complaint. If the complaint is upheld, NMGW will identify and action suitable and appropriate remedies as soon as possible

NMGW will monitor, audit and report on its internal complaints procedure regularly.

NMGW will communicate lessons learned to its staff

Courtesy

2.5 NMGW will treat all complainants with courtesy and understanding

Accessibility

2.6 NMGW will:

  • Publicise its complaints system by means of a leaflet setting out NMGW's internal complaints system. The same information will be posted on NMGW's website;

  • Accept complaints either orally or in writing (including via fax or electronic mail). Where necessary, particularly where the complaint is complex, complainants will be encouraged to put their complaints in writing, setting out the details of the complaint. A complainant who needs help in setting out the complaint will be able to seek assistance from the Complaints Officer. Oral and written complaints will be given the same consideration;

  • Where the complaint is received orally the member of staff who receives it will, where appropriate, make a note of the complaint and ask the complainant to confirm that it records the complaint accurately. This may require an exchange of letters between the complainant and the member of staff to whom they spoke;

  • Where a complainant is unable to act for him/herself, a complaint may be made by a representative. A person claiming to be acting on behalf of someone else may be asked to provide proof that he or she is authorised to act in this way;

  • If a complaint is made by a third party who is not acting on behalf of the person affected and the person affected has not complained, staff should consider what action is necessary to address the issues raised by the complaint. In such circumstances, staff will have regard to the rights and wishes (for example the right to privacy) of the person directly affected.

Timely and Informative

2.7 The complaints procedure will operate to the following timetable:

  • Where the complaint is made orally (eg by telephone) it may be possible to give an immediate explanation/apology which satisfies the complainant;

  • All complaints will be dealt with promptly with the aim of identifying as quickly as possible whether there has been an error, delay or poor service, so minimising the risk of a recurrence of the circumstances which gave rise to the complaint and allowing a speedy remedy. Such prompt examination may also establish that it would be appropriate to refer the complainant to another body;

  • All written complaints which warrant more than a simple explanation or apology will be acknowledged and complainants told that they will receive a response as soon as possible and normally within 15 working days of the receipt of the complaint; all oral complaints (made by telephone or in person) which warrant more than a simple explanation or apology will be handled in the same way;

  • Some complaints may be complex, or raise serious issues, and will require particularly detailed and careful investigation. Where a response cannot be provided within 15 working days, an interim reply will be sent with an undertaking to provide a full reply by a date specified in the letter;

  • Where a complaint is not resolved at this stage the same approach and deadlines will apply to further stages. Should a complaint proceed as far as the complaints panel (see 2.7) the complainant will be notified of the appointment of the panel within 15 days of the receipt of the request that the complaint be considered by a panel;

  • Delay in considering a complaint may be considered to be maladministration.

Fairness

2.8 Where a complaint is one which warrants more than a simple explanation or apology, a thorough investigation will be carried out on the following basis:

  • The complaint will be logged and examined initially and immediately by the member of staff who receives it;

  • The complaint will be referred for a full examination to the relevant line manager (normally at least Head of department level). If other staff are involved they will be informed and asked to contribute to the investigation;

  • Where possible, any error or omission identified during the course of the examination will be addressed immediately. The complainant will receive a letter of apology, redress and explanation from a member of staff with management responsibility for that area (usually Head of Department);

  • The letter will also enclose information on NMGW's complaints procedure and will give a contact point should the complainant have any further concerns or queries. The contact point will be the Director of Strategic Communications

* If the complaint involves an allegation of a criminal offence, the complainant will be referred immediately to the relevant Director who will refer it through NMGW's agreed procedures.

Further Review

2.9 When the complainant is dissatisfied with the apology/explanation or with any redress offered he/she may take up the next stage of the complaints procedure which will operate as follows:

  • The first follow up complaint will be examined by a senior line manager (normally the relevant Director) who will review the first investigation and respond in accordance with the timetable set out in 2.5 above. If the Director judges it necessary (for example if he/she was directly involved or because of the seriousness of the complaint) he/she may refer the complaint, via the Director NMGW, to the complaints panel (see below);

  • When a complainant is still not satisfied that the complaint has been fully investigated and addressed, and the complaint falls within the scope of the Code defined above, he/she may ask for the complaint to be put to a complaints panel. This will consist of a Chair who is independent of NMGW and two senior NMGW staff who are independent of the area in which the complaint arose. The panel will be supported by the Complaints Officer;

  • One member of the panel will review the complaint and put his/her conclusions to the full panel for consideration. No complaint will be dismissed without the agreement of the Chair. The Chair of the panel will then send a report to the Director for the area from which the complaint arose, who in turn will send a response advising the complainant:

    • of any action/apology/redress which the second review has concluded is appropriate; or

    • that there is no more NMGW can do to put things right

The response will be copied to Director NMGW and the Head of Department for the area concerned:

  • The response will enclose a copy of the panel's report;

  • If the complainant responds further saying that he/she is still not content, the Director NMGW will consult the President who will decide if there is any further action which should be taken beyond advising the complainant to contact the National Assembly for Wales sponsor division if the subject appears to be within their remit.

Effectiveness

2.10

  • All aspects of the complaint will be thoroughly examined and suitable remedies identified and put into practice including changes to procedures where appropriate;

  • The internal complaints procedure will be regularly monitored to make sure that it is effective and improved as necessary with a review of the procedures being carried out annually to ensure its continuing effectiveness;

  • An annual summary of complaints investigated via the internal complaints procedure together with a report of lessons learned will be prepared and referred to Council;

  • Lessons learned from mistakes will be acted on to ensure improvement in services.

March 2001

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