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'Making A Complaint About NHS Treatment'

If you are dissatisfied with the care you or someone you are responsible for received; do complain. The following section provides information on how and who to complain to, what response you can expect and where you can go for advice.

  • Complain direct
    Problems can be resolved quickly and distress reduced if you complain when the problems occurs. The complaint should be made directly to the person responsible or other staff member. Department of Health guidance (contained in EL (96) 19) emphasises the importance of staff resolving complaints as soon as they are brought to their notice.

  • Seek advice
    We are often very distressed when we have cause to complain. Staff may also be distressed by the complaint. When this is the case seek advice. The Complaints Manager at the NHS Trust or Health Authority can advise on the most effective way to complain. Details may also be obtained from the Freephone Health Information Service (0800 665544). Your local Community Health Council can also provide you with a copy of the complaints procedure that each Trust and GP practice must have. This will give you the names of people responsible for investigating complaints and tell you how your complaint will be dealt with.

  • Clarity and Brevity
    It is very important to make clear from the beginning what you are seeking from the complaint. It will also speed the resolution of the complaint if you are clear about:

    1. dates
    2. place and time of incident
    3. the hospital number (if appropriate)
    4. who was involved (the name if known)
    5. what happened
    6. what action you expect to be taken

    If you are complaining on behalf of someone else you will need their permission.

  • Time limits
    The sooner you complain after an event the easier it is to investigate. You should make a complaint within 6 months of the events that have led you to the complaint (or 6 months after you realise that you have something to complain about - as long as this is no more than one year after the incident). This includes complaints against GPs, dentists or hospital and community services.

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