If you are unhappy with the service or treatment you, your family member or someone you care for had received from your GP, you may want to make a complaint about medical treatment gone wrong. Many people who have been victims of medical negligence or GP negligence have wondered how to put a complaint in about a doctor’s surgery or how to make a complaint about GP practice.
As you read on, you’ll find answers to numerous questions that may have bothered you in the past, including how to complain about your GP, how to complain about a doctor’s surgery, how to file a complaint against a doctor’s office, where to report a doctor, and so on.
Complaints Against My GP
Valid question is ‘can you make a complaint against a doctor? Yes, but why?
You can proceed to making a complaint about a GP for what they did which they should not have done, or for what they didn’t do which they should have done.
There are numerous conditions for which you can complain about. They include, but are not limited to the following:
- Not being able to get an appointment to see your GP. The government target is that you should be able to get an appointment with your GP for an urgent medical problem within 48 hours
- An incorrect diagnosis
- Incorrect treatment
- Problems with your GP out-of-hours service
- There’s been an unreasonable delay in diagnosis or treatment
- There’s been an unreasonable delay in telling you the results of tests
- Your GP ignores important symptoms
- Bad communication
- Your GP doesn’t provide appropriate pain relief
- Clinical negligence resulting in personal injury
- The behaviour of staff at your GP surgery
- Consent issues. For example, you weren’t given information about the severe side effects of a certain medication so you weren’t able to make an informed choice about consenting to the treatment
- Discrimination, for example, you’re not given proper treatment because of your disability. This is against the law
- Lack of patient confidentiality. For example, the GP receptionist refuses to make you an appointment unless you tell them what is wrong with you. You’re concerned by this, because everyone else in the waiting room can hear
- Errors in medical records, or loss of medical records
- A refusal (or an unreasonable delay) to provide information about your medical condition for things like a benefits or insurance claim, or when information is requested by the DVLA so you can drive again
- Refusal to make an appropriate referral to a hospital
- Delays in passing on information to other professionals
- Refusing to prescribe you a drug that you need. But you can’t complain if it’s a drug that the GP isn’t allowed to prescribe on the NHS, or if it’s a drug which a GP may only prescribe in certain circumstances or for specific patient groups.
The conditions stated above are not the only reasons for which you can make complaints against GP. As has been implied earlier, if your GP fails in their duty of care to you, then you should make medical complaints to the medical council and report the doctor’s surgery.
Next question on your mind should be ‘how do I complain about my GP?’
How To Make A Complaint About My Gp?
We are all entitled to receiving good healthcare. However, if you’re unhappy with your GP or doctor’s surgery (as one of our clients put it, ‘my doctor is not helping me’), then you should start asking questions like ‘how to make a complaint about a doctor surgery’, or ‘how do you make a complaint against a doctor’, or even ‘how to make a complaint about GP practice’.
Before making a complaint, you could raise your concerns or complaint verbally or in writing with the GP. Inform them of your GP surgery and how you have been treated.
This way, your complaint could be sorted out within the shortest possible time. However, if your GP fails to sort out your complaint, you can go ahead to air your concerns to the practice or to the Association of Managers in General Practice.
If they, too, are unable to favorably respond to the concerns you’ve raised, then you can complain to the NHS or seek legal advice.
If you’d like to complain about your GP or doctor’s surgery, you should ask for a copy of the surgery’s medical negligence complaints procedure against the GP. This will guide you in making a complaint about a GP.
If you are making a written complaint, ensure that you keep records of all the documents involved in the process. This will serve as evidence if you are reporting a doctor’s surgery.
If you are making a verbal complaint, ensure that you write down everything that is being discussed during the process.
The following information should be in your formal complaint:
- What or who you’re complaining about
- What happened and when
- What you’d like to be done to resolve your complaint
- How to contact you
According to the NHS constitution, you have a right to have your GP complaint properly investigated. Your complaint should be acknowledged within three working days, and you should be told about the outcome of the investigation.
In order to have your complaint investigated, you usually need to complain within 12 months of the event happening, or as soon as you first become aware of the issue you want to complain about.
The time limit can be extended beyond 12 months in special circumstances.
Depending on what you wish to achieve, you may have varying options through which you can make a complaint:
- Use the NHS complaints procedure
- Take legal action, for example, for clinical negligence, discrimination or for breach of your human rights. This can be expensive – take legal advice before considering this option
- Reporting concerns to your GP’s regulatory body
- Reporting concerns to someone else such as your local Healthwatch, NHS England or the press.
How To Complain To The NHS?
You have the right to make a complaint about any aspect of NHS care, treatment or service, and this is firmly written in the NHS Constitution.
The NHS encourages feedback because it’s used to improve its services. If you wish to share your views and experiences, good or bad, simply speak to a member of staff.
If you’re unhappy with an NHS service, it’s often advisable to discuss your concerns early on with the provider of the service, as they may be able to sort the issue out quickly.
Most problems can be dealt with at this stage, but in some cases you may feel more comfortable speaking to someone who is not directly involved in your care.
Who Can I Complain To About My GP?
Knowing who to complain to can seem complicated, especially if more than one organization is involved.
Prior to when you make a complaint, you may raise your complaint with your GP. This could be done in writing or verbally. Let them know about your GP surgery and how you have been treated. When you make your complaints to your GP, they could be sorted out in a very short time.
If your GP fails to work on your complaint, you can proceed to make your complaints to the practice or to the Association of Managers in General Practice.
If this move does not yield any positive result, proceed to reporting to the NHS, or you may choose to seek legal advice.
NHS Complaint Procedure
The NHS GP complaint procedure allows you to make your concerns and complaints known to the NHS.
While making a complaint about GP to the NHS, you need to provide as much information as possible to allow the NHS to investigate your complaint. While adhering to the complaint procedure, ensure that you provide the following:
- Your name and a valid email or home address for reply
- A phone number in case we need to contact you for additional information
- The name, location, and postal address (if you know it) of the service you want to complain about
- A clear description of what you want to complain about and when this happened
- Any relevant correspondence
Ensure that you do not post removable media to NHS England, for example CDs, DVDs, SD cards and memory sticks. Due to security restrictions, the NHS are unable to access information that is sent this way.
Any removable media will be returned to you, or securely destroyed if your details are not with the NHS.
NHS England will acknowledge all complaints not more than the three working days after the day you raise a complaint or after the complaint is received.
Your complaint will be investigated and you will receive the findings of the investigation along with an apology. You will also receive an explanation of any lessons learned during the process or changes that will take place as a result of the findings owebs itsnvestigation.
The amount of time this will take will depend on what your complaint is about and how complex it is. A simple and easy-to-resolve complaint will take significantly less time. Conversely, a much more complex complaint will require a longer time to resolve. Communication with you is important as you need to be kept updated throughout the process.
How To Complain About A Medical Receptionist?
You may have experienced poor medical care due to GP negligence or an unfriendly encounter with a staff member, and as a result, you may have had an unpleasant experience in a medical office. Sometimes, just coping with the experience and trying to move forward without action may not be the best action to take. If you’ve found reason to file a complaint against a medical receptionist, file it with the hospital or health care system affiliated with your particular medical office.
Ensure that you call the medical office where the medical receptionist works. Ask to speak with the manager of the office with an attempt to resolve the problem before taking further action.
Write a letter and address it to the hospital the medical office is a part of. If your medical office is self-sufficient, file a complaint with your state’s medical review board.
In order to find your state’s medical review board, search for your state name and ‘medical review board on the internet. The official website will be displayed for you, including their contact information.
In the letter, write as many details as you can possibly recall, including the date and time of your visits, the names of staff members involved (or descriptions if you cannot recall names), the purpose of your being at the office, what the problem was and if the medical dfive tried to resolve the problem. Explain the steps you’ve taken to resolve the problem with the medical receptionist and why you feel they need to take further action.
Also include in your letter, what you feel could have been done to prevent your complaint or resolve the situation.
Make sure you include your phone number or an email address that you check regularly so a representative can contact you easily, if need be.
Address your envelope and mail your letter.
Can I Complain On Behalf Of Someone Else?
If you are complaining on someone else’s behalf, the NHS will need their consent to proceed with the complaint. You will be contacted about this.
When a complaint is made about a service such as a GP, dentist or pharmacy, specific consent will also be required to share the complaint with that service in order to investigate it. The process will be sped up if you include the following line in your complaint:
“I give permission for my complaint to be shared with (insert name of GP) in order for NHS England to carry out an investigation.”
How Do I Contact My Gp?
Even though you can get help from your GP for free, you usually need to make an appointment.
Recently, in order to curb the spread of coronavirus, there have been some changes to GP appointments. However, it still remains vital that you get help from a GP if you need it.
You can always contact your GP surgery by:
- Visiting their website
- Using the NHS App
- Calling them
Asking the question, ‘can I get through to GP surgery?’ It is important to note that you should only visit a GP surgery if you have been told to do so.
While trying to make contact with your GP, you should be able to book or change an appointment at your GP surgery through the following ways:
- Online, find out more about how to start using online services
- By phone
- In person, by going into the surgery and talking to the receptionist
In some GP surgeries, it is possible that you may be able to have a consultation online or over the phone. You should speak to your HP surgery for more information about phone and online consultations.
You can call your GP surgery if you need an urgent appointment. If your GP surgery is closed, a recorded message will tell you who to contact.
You can use the online services of a GP surgery if you are registered with them. With that, you can book, check or cancel appointments with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional.
If you are already signed up to an online service, you can log on to your usual service provider and book one of the available appointments.
If you need to change an appointment online you will need to cancel the appointment you already have and book a new one.
You can see your GP on:
- Weekday evenings between 6.30pm and 8pm
- Saturdays and Sundays
You can call your GP surgery or use their online services to book evening and weekend appointments. You may also be able to get an appointment on that same day.
You could be offered an appointment at:
- Your GP surgery
- Another local GP surgery
- Another local NHS service
If you’re not registered with a GP, you can call any GP surgery or contact a local GP to get emergency treatment for up to two weeks. That is if you are not registered with a GP or you are away from home.
If your treatment will last for more than two weeks, you’ll have to register as a temporary or permanent resident.
How to complain about NHS in Wales?
If your doctor is an NHS doctor in Wales, you may be wondering how to complain about a doctor in Wales.
The NHS in Wales focuses on providing the very best care and treatment. But sometimes, things may not always go as well as expected.
When that happens, you should raise your complaints with the staff involved with your care or treatment, so that they can look at what may have gone wrong and try to make it better.
In NHS Wales this is done through a process popularly known as ‘Putting Things Right’.
Who should I talk to?
The best place to start your complaint is by talking to the staff involved with your care or treatment as soon as possible. They will try to resolve your concerns promptly.
If this does not help, or you do not want to speak to the staff, you may choose to contact the health board or trust’s concerns team. If you have a concern about services that you have received from your General Practitioner (GP), Dentist, Pharmacist or Optician you should normally ask the practice to look into it for you, as it may possibly amount to a case of GP negligence or doctor’s negligence or even NHS negligence. But if you prefer, you can ask your health board to do so.
Every health board or trust has their own concerns team. To find their details you can phone NHS 111 Wales on 0845 4647 or you can visit the websites below:
Local Health Boards:
- Swansea Bay University Health Board – Complaints
- Aneurin Bevan Health Board – Concerns/Complaints
- Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – Complaints
- Cardiff & Vale University Health Board – Concerns/Complaints and Compliments
- Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board – Concerns and Complaints
- Hywel Dda University Health Board – Patient support services (feedback and complaints)
- Powys Teaching Health Board – Feedback and Complaints
NHS Wales Trusts
- Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust – Putting Things Right
- Public Health Wales – Complaints
- Velindre NHS Trust – Raising a Concern
What will the complaint team or practice do?
- Listen to your concerns to try to resolve them as quickly as possible.
- Look into your concerns and speak to the staff involved in your care or treatment.
- Put you in contact with the right person to help you.
- Let you know what they have found and what they are going to do about it.
Please do not fail to tell the complaint team or practice if you need information or communication in a different format such as large print, Braille or audio.
How soon should I tell someone about my concern?
You can take up to 12 months to do so, even though it is best to talk to someone as soon as possible. If a longer time has passed and there are good reasons for the delay, the complaints team or practice may still be able to deal with your concern.
Who can raise a concern?
You can be able to raise a concern yourself. Though, if you prefer, a carer, friend or relative may represent you. But you’ll need to give them written permission to do so.
Can I get support to raise my concern?
Yes. The Community Health Council’s independent advocacy service provides free and confidential support for anyone making a GP report or complaining about NHS incompetence.
What happens when you have raised your concern?
After you have raised your concern, the complaint team will:
- Contact you and may offer a meeting to discuss your concerns.
- Look into your concerns and talk to the staff involved in your care or treatment.
- Aim to respond to you within 30 working days of receiving your concern. If they cannot reply to you at that time, they will explain why and let you know when to expect a response.
Some concerns, though, may take a longer time to resolve.
What if you are still not happy?
If you are left unhappy with the health board’s response, you can contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
General Medical Council Complaints Against Doctors
The General Medical Council (GMC) deals with the most severe concerns about doctors. These are concerns that may require a doctor’s registration to be restricted or removed to protect the public and uphold public confidence in the medical profession.
GMC is one of a number of organisations responsible for considering patients’ concerns and, depending on the circumstances, it may be more convenient for you to raise your concerns with another one of these organisations first.
Who should I contact if I am concerned about a doctor?
There are a lot of organisations responsible for looking into complaints patients raise and it can be confusing to know who to speak to. Your complaint will be dealt with fastest if you raise it with the right organisation in the first place.
If you want an apology, an explanation or a review of your treatment, you should first and foremost, contact the place where you received care.
Most concerns about doctors can be settled locally, and more quickly, by the doctor’s employers. The hospital, GP practice, private hospital or clinic where you received care has its own specific complaints procedures.
Please do well to contact them for details.
If you remain unhappy, you can refer your complaint to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will evaluate your concern and decide whether to investigate it. You can contact them on their freephone number 0800 343 424 or visit their website www.ni-ombudsman.org.uk.
What kind of concerns should I raise with GMC?
These are examples of the types of cases in which the GMC may need to act:
- Serious or repeated mistakes in carrying out medical procedures or in diagnosis, such as prescribing drugs in a dangerous way
- Failure to examine a patient properly or to respond reasonably to a patient’s needs
- Fraud or dishonesty
- Serious breaches of a patient’s confidentiality
- Any serious criminal offence.
If you think that a doctor has committed a criminal offence, you should endeavour to contact the police as well as the GMC.
How do I report a doctor to the GMC?
The easiest and fastest way to raise a concern about a doctor is through the council’s online complaint form at www.gmc-uk.org/concerns. This form will guide you to provide all the information needed by the GMC to consider your concern.
You can also report a doctor to the GMC by:
- Writing to the council at Fitness to Practise, General Medical Council, 3 Hardman Street, Manchester M3 3AW
- Filling in and returning the form at the back of this booklet.
You can find more information, including a useful example of a complaint by letter or email, on the GMC website at www.gmc-uk.org/concerns.
You will be required to provide the following information:
- The doctor’s name and work address
- An explanation of your concerns – with dates when the incidents happened
- Copies of any supporting documents, such as copies of your correspondence with the organisation or NHS trust if you have complained locally
- The names and addresses of anyone else who witnessed or was involved in the incidents
What will the GMC do with my concern about a doctor?
The GMC will review all concerns carefully to see if there are issues that need to be investigated. If the council decides that they are not the right organisation to investigate the concern, they may pass it to the doctor’s responsible officer who monitors performance and tell the doctor to pass it to the local complaints body.
If the council decides to investigate your concern, they will need to show it to the doctor. They’ll ask whether you have any concerns or specific requests about how your information will be used. If you do, the council take them into account in deciding how to use your information, but they may still decide to share your concern with the doctor and others in some situations to protect the public.
Usually, the GMC does not investigate concerns about doctors when the events took
place more than five years ago. If they don’t investigate, they may still show the doctor a copy of your concern so they can use it to learn and improve.
Before they do, they’ll take into account any concerns or specific requests you’ve raised about how your information will be used.
Once they have received the doctor’s comments, they will give you a chance to respond. They’ll also give you more information on what will happen during the investigation.
Once they have collected the information they need, the case will be considered by two senior GMC decision makers (one medical, the other
non-medical). They will consider whether the complaints are serious enough to refer the case for a hearing with the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS). If they are, an impartial tribunal will decide at the hearing if the doctor is fit to continue practise.
What can the GMC do?
If the council identifies concerns about the doctor, they swiftly take action.
The GMC can:
- Issue a warning to the doctor
- Agree undertakings – for example, the doctor agrees to re-train or work under supervision
- Refer the doctor to the MPTS for a medical practitioners tribunal hearing.
The MPTS tribunal can decide to:
- Put conditions on the doctor’s registration so that they are only allowed to do medical work under supervision, or so that they are restricted to certain areas of practice
- Suspend the doctor’s name from the register – so that they cannot practise medicine during the suspension period
- Remove the doctor’s name from the register so that they cannot practise medicine at all.
What can’t the GMC do?
The GMC cannot:
- Deal with concerns or complaints about nurses, pharmacists, opticians, hospital or practice managers or administrative staff, or anyone who is not a registered doctor – these will be dealt with by other regulators (see www.professionalstandards.org.uk for their details)
- Give you a comprehensive explanation of what happened to you – this can only come from the doctor or the healthcare organisation
- Order a doctor to provide the treatment you want
- Help you with a complaint compensation
- Fine a doctor or GP
- Make a doctor or GP apologise to you.
How long will it take for the GMC to consider my concern?
The GMC understands that raising a concern can be stressful, so the council tries to consider your concern as quickly as possible. The more relevant information you provide, the quicker they will be able to consider your concern. If they decide to investigate your concern, they will give you an idea of how long their enquiries will take.
What if I am not happy with the way the GMC has handled my concern?
The council will keep you informed of any action they are taking and provide you with a clear explanation for their decisions. If you are not happy with the way the council has handled your concern, please discuss the problem with the person you have been corresponding with. You may contact their manager if you are still unhappy, or email email@example.com.
What can I do if my GP doesn’t help me?
If you feel your GP surgery does not help you, you may want to take the following procedures:
- Complain about your GP surgery
- Contact the NHS in your region
- Get help with your complaint
- Complain to the Ombudsman
- Find out which health ombudsman
Can I sue my doctor for not helping me?
There are a few elements a patient must prove to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit for a doctor failing to provide help. First, the patient must show the delay in diagnosis and/or treatment amounted to negligence. … On top of negligence, the patient must prove the delay or failure to treat caused harm.
How do I write a medical complaint letter?
Keep your letter to the point and as short as possible. Try to work together with your health or care professional as far as possible to sort out the problem. List clearly the things you’re complaining about. Write them down in date order, with as many factual details that you can.
What do you say in a complaint letter?
When writing a complaint letter, out should follow the following simple steps:
- Be clear and concise.
- State exactly what you want done and how long you’re willing to wait for a response.
- Don’t write an angry, sarcastic, or threatening letter.
- Include copies of relevant documents, like receipts, work orders, and warranties.
- Include your name and contact information.