The National Health Service is one of the British points of pride, but sometimes it falls short of the standards that it should deliver. If failures of service have a negative impact on your health, then you have a right to make complaints. The outcome may simply be rectifying the problem and administering the correct treatment. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may want to make a legal claim against the NHS for financial compensation. This is a separate case entirely. If you merely want acknowledgement, apology, and the correct medical approach, then a complaints letter is the way to go. Read this guide to learn more.
What can I complain to the NHS about?
There are lots of areas within the NHS and many services that they offer. Equally, there are a lot of things that you could complain about if they go wrong. These are some examples:
- NHS or GP services
- hospital, pharmacy, ambulance, community healthcare
- a specific appointment (consultation or treatment)
- the general quality of care or staff attitude
- difficulties or delays with administration
- poor communication regarding your care
- mistreatment or misdiagnosis
You should always keep records of NHS appointments, including the names of staff who are responsible for your care. You will need to explain details such as when, where, and who was involved when you make a complaint. If there has been a case of severe clinical negligence then you may prefer to go to a solicitor instead of the complaints procedure.
When can I complain to the NHS?
Make a complaint as soon as possible after the event occurs. This should ensure that a full investigation can take place into the matter. The sooner that you complain, the sooner you will see results and, hopefully, things will be fixed. You cannot submit a written complaint if you have already made a verbal one and the NHS addressed this sufficiently. You may not realize that you have a cause for complaint until later. This is fine, as long as you make the complaint within 12 months. It is possible to complain on someone else’s behalf if you have their permission. You do not need permission if they are mentally incapable or deceased.
How to Complain to the NHS
Every NHS service provider should have a complaints procedure of its own. You should contact them directly at first to determine the correct steps to follow. The provider might be your GP, a hospital, a pharmacy, or your dentist. They should give you a copy of their complaints procedure. Otherwise, you can contact the commissioner for the NHS service. For primary care services, this will usually be NHS England. It is better to make complaints in person first, and then escalate should they fail to take adequate action. If the complaint is already in progress, then do not make a duplicate complaint. They should inform you of their progress during the formal complaint investigation and issue a final written response.
NHS Complaint Letter Template
If you choose to write a complaint letter to the NHS, it must be concise but contain all of the necessary details. Avoid using emotional language or including irrelevant comments. You should separate your complaint into points and order them according to their importance. Discuss all of the facts regarding every concern that you are raising in the letter. Be firm but not aggressive, and include photocopies of supporting documents rather than the originals. You should also photocopy the letter to keep a copy of it for your own records. Post this to the appropriate address, which you can ask the NHS provider for, using recorded delivery.
[NHS PROVIDER NAME]
[DATE OF WRITING]
[DATE OF BIRTH]
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this letter to make a complaint about my experience with your services. On [DATE] I [attended a consultation appointment with/received treatment from STAFF NAME at LOCATION NAME]. I was not happy with the quality of care that I received here because [REASON: the staff member behaved unprofessionally/there were long delays/the diagnosis or treatment itself was not carried out correctly/etc]. This was not acceptable because [DETAILS: the staff member was discriminatory towards me/I was left waiting for X amount of time/I was given inaccurate information/improper care resulted in further problems]. It should not have been the case that [SPECIFICS: e.g. I was ignored while waiting to see the doctor for 3 hours].
I spoke to [STAFF NAME] regarding this issue on [DATE] but unfortunately, they failed to address my concerns. In response to my complaint, I am expecting an explanation and an apology for this. I expect you to investigate this issue and provide an appropriate response in line with the NHS Complaints Procedure. I also expect action to be taken to ensure that this does not happen again. Please contact me in writing at the above address or [YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS]. If you would like to discuss the matter on the phone or arrange a meeting to discuss it in person, then please call me on [YOUR PHONE NUMBER]. I look forward to receiving acknowledgement of my complaint and your further responses regarding this.
Yours sincerely,[INSERT YOUR FULL NAME]
[INSERT YOUR SIGNATURE]