Most medical care and treatment goes well, but things occasionally go wrong, and you may want to complain. So where do you start?
Every NHS organisation has a complaints procedure. To find out about it, ask a member of staff, look on the hospital or trust’s website, or contact the complaints department for more information.
What are my rights?
If you’re not happy with the care or treatment you’ve received or you’ve been refused treatment for a condition, you have the right to complain, have your complaint investigated, and be given a full and prompt reply.
From April 2013, the general principles of allowing a complaint to either the service provider or commissioner of that service will remain in place, but there will be procedural changes following the demise of primary care trusts, and the introduction of the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups.
You may still make a complaint to either a provider of NHS-funded care about the provision of services by them under arrangements made with an NHS body or to the commissioner of that service. However, instead of the commissioning body being the PCT, a complaint to the commissioner will go to either the NHS Commissioning Board or to a local clinical commissioning group.
Where do I start?
Since April 2009, the NHS has run a simple complaints process, which has two stages.
- Ask your hospital or trust for a copy of its complaints procedure, which will explain how to proceed. Your first step will normally be to raise the matter (in writing or by speaking to them) with the practitioner, e.g. the nurse or doctor concerned, or with their organisation, which will have a complaints manager. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can raise the matter with your local primary care trust. From April 1 2013, this will be the relevant commissioning body such as the NHS Commissioning Board or a local Clinical Commissioning Group. The process is called local resolution, and most cases are resolved at this stage.
- If you’re still unhappy, you can refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who is independent of the NHS
Who can help?
For independent help go to the NHS Complaints Independent Advocacy Service
From April 1 2013, individual local authorities have a statutory duty to commission independent advocacy services to provide support for people making, or thinking of making, a complaint about their NHS care or treatment. Arrangements will vary between local authority areas. Contact your local PALS or complaints manager, or local authority for information about how this service is provided in your area. To read more, go to: http://www.local.gov.uk/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=1924abde-49d9-4383-b6fe-b13c50242c29&groupId=10171
Patient Advice and Liaison Service
Officers from the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) are available in all hospitals. They offer confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters to patients, their families and their carers. You can find your local PALS office at the Office Directory at PALS Online.