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'Making A Complaint About General Practice'

All family doctors and NHS dentists operate their own practice-based complaints system. Every practice should have a written complaints procedure which gives you the name of the person responsible for investigating complaints in the practice.

  • Stage One:

    • Complain direct
      Make your complaint direct to that person or to your general practitioner. You should receive an acknowledgement within two working days and a response within 10 working days, or be kept informed about progress of the investigation.

    • Seek Advice
      If you do not wish to complain to the practice direct, you should talk or write to the Complaints Manager at the Health Authority. The name and address should be in the practice leaflet. The local Community Health Council will also advise.

    • Time limits
      You should complain no later than 6 months after the events that have led to the complaint (or 6 months after you realise that you have something to complain about - as long as there is no more than one year after the incident).

  • Stage Two:

    If you are dissatisfied with the response to your initial complaint you can ask the Complaints Convenor at the local Health Authority to investigate. You must do this within 20 working days of the response from the practice.

    The Convenor can decide to set up an Independent Review Panel. If you are not satisfied with the Convenor's decision or are not satisfied with the Review Panels investigation you can ask the Ombudsman to investigate. There is no appeal against the Ombudsman's decision.

    Complaints relating to, for example, failure to respond to an out of hours call could be dealt with by the above procedure. Complaints relating to the attitude or behaviour of a doctor are still made to the General Medical Council (GMC) 178-202, Great Portland Street, London W1N 6JE Tel: 0171 580 7642. The GMC has powers to discipline all registered medical practitioners, whether in the NHS or private sector. It considers complaints about serious failures of care, violent or indecent behaviour, dishonesty etc.

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