According to the NHS constitution, you have the right as a patient to make complaints about any aspect of NHS treatment, care or service which you feel fell below standard and has caused you or your loved one to suffer unnecessarily.
In this guide, we will look at the NHS complaints policy and procedure and every other thing you need to know about complaints procedure in the NHS.
Complaints Procedure In The NHS
The NHS in its nature encourages users of its services to give feedback which will be used to improve its services. You can speak to a member of staff if you wish to share your thoughts or views whether positive or negative. Also, many of the NHS service providers make feedback forms available on their websites or in the premises and you can make use of them. Now what is the NHS complaints procedure?
Sometimes, issues which you are unhappy about such as the standard of care or treatment you or your loved one is receiving or has received from an NHS service provider can be resolved quickly by making complaints or discussing your concerns.
The NHS complaints procedure allows you to either speak directly to the staff involved in your care. However, you may also want to speak to someone who understands the NHS complaints procedure and is able to guide you on how to make your complaints.
This is where the Patient Advice and Liaison Service(PALS) comes in very useful. The PALS is found in most hospitals and speaking with a PALS member can help you discuss your concerns and resolve your issues informally before you even have to make a formal complaint. This can be very helpful when an urgent action is required while you or your loved one is still receiving treatment in the hospital.
However, should you want to make formal complaints, then you can have someone from the independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service to guide you. An advocate will be able to help you with relevant pieces of advice throughout the complaints stage, attend meetings with you and also help you review any information the NHS gives you during the complaints process.
To find the advocacy provider in your area, you can reach out to your local council for help. Also, your local Healthwatch can also help you with information on making complaints about the NHS.
NHS Complaints Handling Procedure
Sometimes, making a complaint especially when there is more than one organization involved can be confusing. However, every NHS service provider in England has their own complaints procedure. This information can be found in waiting rooms, at reception, on the service provider’s website. Alternatively, you can ask a member of staff.
NHS dental complaints procedure in England, doctor negligence complaints and making a complaint about GP surgery negligence can be pretty straight forward. You can make your complaints directly to the NHS service provider which in this case could be a GP, dentist surgery or hospital or to the NHS commissioner of the services. The commissioner of the services is the body that pays for the NHS services you use. You can make complaints to either of the two and not both. That is how to complain about a GP surgery or how to make a complaint about a doctor in the NHS.
Furthermore, if your complaints involves more than one organization- for instance GP negligence, hospital negligence as well as an ambulance service, you will only make one complaint. However, the organization that receives your complaint will then collaborate with the other bodies involved to give you a coordinated response.
To find a commissioner and make complaints about primary care services GPs, dentists, opticians or pharmacists), you can contact NHS England. NHS England can also help with issues concerning military health services and some other specialised services.
For secondary care such as hospital care, mental health services, out-of-hours services, NHS 111 and community services like district nursing, you can contact your local integrated care board (ICB) for complaints. The complaints procedure for every ICB is found on their website.
NHS Complaints Procedure Timescale
The NHS Complaints procedure has it that complaints should normally be made within 12 months of the negligent care or when you became aware of it. In some cases, the time limit can be extended provided you give good reasons why you couldn’t make your complaints sooner and if it’s still possible to conduct a fair and thorough investigation on the matter.
You can make your complaints either verbally, in writing or by email. When you make your complaints verbally, it will be recorded and a written copy will be given to you.
Furthermore, when making complaints on behalf of someone else, you will need to include their written consent with your letter -that is if you are making your complaints in writing. This will make the process go faster.
There are however certain cases where consent is not required. These include cases of a;
- A Deceased Person
- Someone Who Lacks The Capacity To Make Their Own Decisions
- A Non-Gillick Competent Child
According to NHS complaints policy and procedure, you should expect feedback acknowledging your letter within 3 working days of receiving your complaint. You will also receive an offer of a discussion about your complaint.
If you accept to have the discussion, this discussion will usually last the period within which you are supposed to get a response to your complaint. There is no set time frame for this as complaints differ from each other. If there is any reason why the response is delayed, you will be notified.
Furthermore, you will receive a written response as soon as your complaint has been investigated. This response will include the findings made and where applicable apologies will be made. Additionally, information about what had been done as a result of your complaint will be made known to you. The response will also tell you of your rights to complain to the Health Ombudsman if you are not satisfied with how your complaints were handled.
Complaints About NHS Not Resolved?
You have the right to make your NHS clinical negligence complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if you are not happy with the final decision reached after your complaints.
The PHSO which is an independent organization makes final decisions on unresolved complaints about the NHS in England. You can visit the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman website or call 0345 015 4033 for more information.
Making complaints does not actually yield compensation. You will have to make a claim against the NHS if you feel you suffered hospital negligence and deserve compensation.
Making clinical negligence compensation claims can be challenging but with the right NHS solicitors, your NHS claim can go smoothly.
We therefore encourage you to reach out to us via our helplines to speak with our NHS solicitors if you have gone through the process of complaining about the NHS without any tangible results. Also, we can offer you more information, support and guidance about the NHS complaints procedure.
If you however decide to make your claims, you can be rest assured that you will have professional representation from our dedicated NHS solicitors and get a deserving medical negligence compensation.
Contact A Specialist Solicitor Today For A Free Claim Assessment
Call Us Today On: 0800 644 4240
Make A Claim Contact Us