The NHS has a complaints procedure which anyone
who is receiving, or has received NHS treatment or services can
use. If you are unable to complain yourself then someone else, usually
a relative or close friend can complain on your behalf.
The procedure works the same whichever part of the
NHS you wish to complain about.
It is important that you make your complaint as soon as possible
after the event you wish to complain about has occurred. Usually
the NHS will only investigate complaints that are made within six
months of the event - or within six months of you realising that
you have something to complain about as long as this is not more
than 12 months after the event itself. These time limits can be
waived if there is good reason to do so.
Local Resolution of complaints
The NHS complaints procedure provides for Local Resolution as a
first step. All NHS Trusts and health authorities, GPs, dentists,
opticians and pharmacists have complaints procedures in place and
NHS Trusts and health authorities will also have complaints managers.
You can try to resolve your problem informally first
by talking to someone close to the cause of your complaint - a doctor,
nurse, receptionist, or practice manager, for example.
If informal attempts do not work or you would prefer
to talk to someone who is not involved in your care, you can telephone
or write to the appropriate complaints manager.
If your complaint is about a GP, family dentist, pharmacist
or optician you can ask a staff member for details of the complaints
procedure. You may wish to use this procedure before contacting
the complaints manager at your local health authority.
The telephone number of your locl health authority
will be in the phone book.
The Patients Charter entitles you to have a full written reply from
the chief executive to any written complaint against a trust or
health authority. The NHS tries to do this within four weeks and
should inform you of progress if this is not possible.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of Local Resolution then
you can ask the trust - or health authority - to consider taking
your complaint to Independent Review.
You should do this within four weeks of the result
of the Local Resolution.
You will be asked to explain in writing why you are
dissatisfied with the result. A specially trained member of the
trust or health authority will then decide whether there should
be an independent review of your complaint by a special panel. You
will be informed of the decision in writing. If he decides to set
up a panel, you will be told what will be investigated.
The panel has three members and will re-examine the
facts, conduct interviews and take any specialist advice needed.
It will then prepare a report together with its conclusions and
recommendations. You will be given a copy of this and will also
be informed of any action being taken.
Health Service Commissioner Ombudsman
If you are still unhappy with the result you
can ask the Health Service Commissioner Ombudsman - to investigate
your case. The Ombudsman will not usually look at matters that have
not been through the NHS complaints procedure.
The Health Service Ombudsman for
Tel: 020 7276 3000
The Welsh Health Services Ombudsman can be contacted
Fifth Floor, Capital Tower
Tel: 01222 394621