Most medical treatment and care goes according to plan, but occasionally things go wrong and you want to complain. You may also want to feedback positive comments on the care and services you have received. These comments are just as important as they tell us what factors are contributing to a good experience for our patients.
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) under the NHS Constitution you have the right to complain and:
- have a complaint dealt with efficiently and have it properly investigated
- know the outcome of any investigation into the complaint
- take your complaint to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you are not satisfied with the way the NHS has dealt with your complaint
- make a claim for judicial review if you think you have been directly affected by an unlawful act or decision of an NHS body
- receive compensation where you have been harmed
When should I complain?
As soon as possible. Complaints should normally be made as soon as the matter first came to your attention and within 12 months of the date of the event you’re complaining about. The time limit can be extended sometimes (provided it is still possible to investigate the complaint). An extension might be possible, for example, in situations where it would have been difficult for you to complain earlier, such as if you were grieving or undergoing trauma.
Where do I start?
From 1st April 2009, the government introduced a new, simplified process that involves the following stages.
- Your first step will normally involve raising the matter verbally with the practitioner, e.g. the nurse or doctor concerned, or with our practice manager (acting as complaints manager) and obtaining a quick (within 1 day) answer to the problem. This is called local resolution and most cases are resolved at this stage. If the matter is more serious, and to avoid any misunderstanding, it may be easier to put the complaint in writing, perhaps using one of our forms that are available in reception, or by letter – this will then be investigated under the full complaints procedure.
- If you wish to escalate an unresolved problem to NHS England you can do so as follows:
NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT
Electronically using the commissioning board’s email address
Please write ‘For the attention of the Complaints manager’ in the subject line.
0300 311 22 33 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, excluding English Bank Holidays)
If you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who is completely independent of the NHS and government. Telephone 0845 015 4033.
Who can I complain for?
You can complain
· For yourself
· As representative of a patient who has died
· As representative of a child
· As representative of a patient who has given written authorisation
· As representative of a patient who is incapable, either physically or mentally, of making a complaint
If representing a child or incapacitated person, we must be satisfied you are acting in their best interests and that they are indeed not capable of making the complaint themselves.
Who can help?
Making a complaint can feel like rather a daunting process, but there is help available.