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Making a Complaint

Making a complaint about an NHS hospital

If you are not happy with the care or treatment you've received or 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 in full.

Every NHS organisation has a complaints procedure which will be available on their website, by asking a member of staff or speaking to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) which can offer advice on how to submit a complaint.

Since April 2009, the NHS has run a simple complaints process, which has two stages:

  1. Ask your GP, hospital or trust for a copy of its complaints procedure, which will explain how to proceed. Your first step will normally be to raise the matter (in writing or by speaking to them) with the practitioner (eg the nurse or doctor concerned) or with their organisation, which will have a complaints manager. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can raise the matter with the relevant commissioning body such as a local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The process is called local resolution, and most cases are resolved at this stage.
  2. If you're still unhappy, you can refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, who is independent of the NHS and government. Call 0345 015 4033.

More information is available on NHS Choices.

Making a complaint about a private hospital

The Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service publishes a code of practice for private hospitals to adhere to and advice on complaints. Two documents, one of which has been written in association with the Patients Association, offer a step-by-step guide to making a complaint.

Making a complaint about a surgeon

The General Medical Council (GMC) regulates doctors and surgeons, with the authority to withdraw a surgeons' 'fitness to practise'. The GMC provides detailed information about how to make a complaint, when to do so, and who to direct it to.

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