Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

New Local Authority Duty to commission NHS Independent Advocacy Services for complainants


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

2 thoughts on “New Local Authority Duty to commission NHS Independent Advocacy Services for complainants

  1. Is this just for England or does it apply to Wales too?

    Sent from my iPhone


    • This applies in England, there are separate arrangements for Wales as follows. The NHS has a comprehensive Complaints Procedure and the Welsh Government has funded CHCs to provide a free NHS Complaints Advocacy Service – to provide support, assistance and guidance.

      Should you be dissatisfied with the service provided by a Local Health Board or NHS Trust, you should write initially to the Chief Executive involved – outlining the reasons for complaining. For Example:
      Allison Williams, Chief Executive, Cwm Taf Health Board, Ynysmeurig House, Navigation Park, Abercynon, CF45 4SN – Tel: 01443 744800.
      From 1st October 2009, for formal complaints against the National Public Health Service, Screening Services and the Welsh Cancer Intelligence Surveillance Unit correspondence shoudl be sent to:
      The Chief Executive, Public Health Wales Trust, 1 Charnwood Court, Heol Billingsley, Parc Nantgarw, CF15 7QZ.
      If your complaint is against a GP, then your letter should be addressed to the Practice Manager at the Surgery.

      Please contact the Advocacy Service if you require assistance in drafting any letter or if you would like guidance on how to proceed on 01443 403590 or by emailing Cwm Taf Advocacy Service. The CHC Advocacy Service can offer support during the NHS complaints procedure and provide guidance on the most appropriate course of action.

      Information taken from http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/903/page/45251 which was last updated in 13 February 2012


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