Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy
The National Health Service (NHS) provides care and treatment in a range of settings and services. Many people who use an NHS service are happy with their care and treatment however, there may be times where this is not the case.
If you’re not happy with the care or treatment you’ve received for example from a hospital, doctor or local surgery 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.
The NHS Constitution explains your rights when it comes to making a complaint. You have the right to:
- Have your complaint dealt with efficiently, and properly investigated,
- Know the outcome of any investigation into your complaint,
- Take your complaint to the independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) if you’re not satisfied with the way the NHS has dealt with your complaint.
It’s important if you’re not happy with any aspect of your care and treatment that you raise your concerns or make a complaint. This will enable services to learn from your experiences.
NHS Complaints Advocacy leaflet
Making an NHS complaint guidance
Writing an NHS complaint guidance
How Can We Help?
Mind in Salford provides free, independent and confidential NHS Complaints Advocacy that can support you to raise your concerns or make a complaint. As our service is independent of the NHS you can speak in confidence to an advocate.
Information on the complaints process is on our website www.www.mindinsalford.org.uk.
An advocate can help you in the following ways:
- Provide information on the complaints process
- Help you think about what you would like to achieve which may be an apology, explanation or information on how your experience can improve NHS services.
- Help you to write a complaint letter
- Support you at local resolution meetings
- Speak to third parties with your consent
- Giving you the opportunity to speak confidentially to someone who is Independent of the NHS
Advocates work under instruction which means we listen to what you want.
When should I complain?
You should complain as soon as possible. Complaints should normally be made within 12 months of the date of the event that you’re complaining about, or as soon as the matter first came to your attention.
The time limit can sometimes be extended (so long as it’s still possible to investigate the complaint). An extension might be possible, such as in situations where it would have been difficult for you to complain earlier for e.g. you were too ill.
Where Do I Start?
Before starting the complaints process it is important to be clear about what aspect of the service you have received you are unhappy with. This may include:
- Care and treatment
- Attitude of staff
- Waiting times
- Poor communication
- You may not have been given the correct information to make an informed decision
- Staff may not have treated you with respect
- Delays in receiving treatment
The NHS Complaints Procedure cannot be used in the following:
- Financial compensation for clinical negligence
- To take disciplinary action against a member of NHS staff
- Private healthcare complaints unless your treatment was funded by the NHS
- If your care home or nursing home is paid for privately
Who can complain?
You can complain about any NHS service you have received that you have been unhappy with. Usually you should make the complaint yourself; however, someone else can make a complaint on your behalf provided you have given them your written permission. If someone is ill or does not have capacity you do not need their written permission to raise a concern or make a complaint.
You can still make a complaint if the person the complaint relates to has died.
If you are under 18 you can complain independently. If for any reason you need help to complain you can ask someone else to make your complaint with your permission.
Who should I complain to?
You can complain to either the Provider or the Commissioner of the health service you are unhappy about.
The provider is the organisation that provides the service to you, for instance a GP, dentist, pharmacist or a hospital.
- NHS England is the commissioner or purchaser of Primary Care i.e. GPs, dentists, opticians, pharmacy and some specialised services.
- Clinical Commissioning Groups commission hospital services, mental health services, out of hours services and 111 services amongst others.
You can raise a concern or make a complaint by:
- Speaking directly to a member of staff involved in your care and treatment
- Contacting the Patient and Liaison Service (PALS)
- Make a complaint using the NHS Complaints Procedure
- Contacting NHS England.
NHS Complaints Procedure
Since April 2009, the NHS complaints process has had two stages.
Stage 1: Local Resolution
Local Resolution is important because it gives you an opportunity to explain what you are unhappy about and what you would like to happen. This may be an explanation of what when wrong, an apology or improvements to current practices and procedures. The aim of the NHS Complaints Procedure is to resolve issues at a local level where possible and many complaints are resolved at this stage.
Stage 2: The Health Service Ombudsman
If after progressing through stage 1 of the complaints procedure you are still unhappy with how your complaint has been dealt with you can refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which is independent of the NHS and government. If you would like more information about the Health Service Ombudsman you can visit their website: www.ombudsman.org.uk or by telephone on 0345 015 4033.